Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Is Automation? (part 1)

Partial illustration, "What is Automation," Collier's magazine, March 16, 1956. Pull quote from the layout:
Automation has been heralded by some as the threshold to a new Utopia, in which robots do all the work while human drones recline in pneumatic bliss.
The complete two-tiered illustration—half-utopian (above), half-apocalyptic—was reproduced in our second anthology, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

music amid the ruins

Spot illustration, April 1946 Columbia Records Disc Digest, a monthly "commentary on the new Columbia Masterworks and popular records plus interesting features on the artists who make them." DD was the successor to Flora's popular monthly Coda, which he created for the label in 1943. Coda was seemingly "retired" when Flora was promoted from Art Director to Advertising Manager in 1945. He illustrated all issues of Coda, but very few DDs. Here's Flora's cover for the April '46 issue:

Many (but not all) of Flora's covers and spot illustrations for Coda and DD showcase a more sober side of the artist. These publications focused primarily on classical ("serious") music. Besides his well-known penchant for hot jazz—as evidenced in his wild album artwork for Columbia—Flora was a devotee of classical music and many of his Coda illustrations reflect the dignity of the genre.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A New Turn in Taxes

The above tempera on illustration board by Flora was recently purchased by a fabulous financial blogger. The Rube Goldberg-like catalytic pipeline originally appeared in the December 1964 issue of Fortune magazine accompanying an article entitled "A New Turn in Taxes."

Most of Flora's work-for-hire illustrations from the 1940s and 1950s cannot be located, having been kept (or disposed of) by client art directors. Judging by what's in the Flora family collection, starting in the late 1950s the artist began retrieving his creations after publication. Hundreds of commercial illustrations—some elaborate like "Taxes," others simple black and white spot illos—remain in storage. There's no way of knowing how many commercial illustrations Flora provided during his career—surely thousands, because that's primarily how he earned his livelihood. Despite his considerable legacy of fine art, it was topical deadline assignments that paid the mortgage and supported the family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bell Island at Night

We return from a fine art print hiatus with our first new work of 2011: Bell Island at Night, a 1968 tempera in which Flora provides a surreal nocturnal impression of his neighbors. Bell Island is part of Rowayton (which in turn is part of Norwalk, CT), and the Flora family lived on the island at 7 St. James from the late 1940s to Flora's death in 1998. Our newest fine art print will be launched in an edition of 30 in the next week or two. We'll re-post this info upon launch. The print is currently in the final proofing stages.