Thursday, December 30, 2010

hieroglyphic montage

Untitled pencil drawing discovered in mid-1960s sketchpad. Theme unknown. The pad included dozens of rough pencil sketches for Flora's 1964 book My Friend Charlie, along with a number of unrelated sketches, mainly architectural, some Mexico-inspired, most incomplete. This work echoes nothing else in the sketchpad, or any other known Flora work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the business of baseball

Hot Stove League entry: illustration (one of several) from "The Big Leagues Are Killing Baseball," LOOK magazine, April 15, 1958. The above image is an original painting. Many of Flora's early commercial illustrations exist only as printed reproductions, the original art either kept by the magazines or thrown out. When I interviewed Flora in 1998, I asked him about the whereabouts of his commercial originals. "They would reproduce it," I queried, "but they wouldn’t think to give it back to the artist?" Flora replied, "Yes, they would—if the artist wanted it. But most artists didn’t even think of getting it back in those days. I didn’t, mostly."

Flora began reclaiming his periodical illustrations in the late 1950s, and dozens (if not hundreds) exist in the family archives from such publications as Life, Fortune, Look, and the New York Times Magazine.

Bonus baby: this draft figure from a sketchbook looks familiar ...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas, 1942

Christmas greetings Flora-style from Columbia/Okeh Records. Above: cover of the December 1942 new release flyer from Flora's then-employer. James had not yet risen to the position of art director (he would in 1943); at the time he was just nearing the end of his first year in the art department under the legendary Alex Steinweiss.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

music & films

Spot illustration, Columbia Coda, August 1945. That was Flora's final year as Columbia art director, and the final year of the monthly Coda, which Flora launched in 1943 and illustrated single-handedly. In January 1946, Robert M. Jones assumed the AD role when Flora was promoted to Advertising Manager. Coda was transformed into the monthly Disc Digest, few of which featured Flora illustrations.