Friday, March 29, 2013

Hard-Edge Fantasy Artists

Nineteenth century academic painting usually took the form of what can be called "hard-edge" art, where subject matter is portrayed in sharp detail. Back in those days, the term used to indicate it was "finish," meaning the state of completion. Paintings by the French Impressionists were considered lacking in finish.

Nowadays, the degree of hard-edge treatment can be a matter of an artist's personal preference or perhaps is demanded by an important class of viewers. For instance, some fans of aviation or railroad art might prefer to find rivets and sheet metal joins crisply and correctly shown and there are artists temperamentally inclined to produce such illustrations who will do the job. I'd say that it's the artist's wishes that usually prevail, because the greatest part of his work falls in an identifiable zone on the hard-edge to painterly continuum.

I tend to favor painterly art, but thought it might be worthwhile to present some examples of detail-oriented artists who specialize in science-fiction and fantasy art.


John Carter Mars scene - by Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
Vallejo and Bell are married and sometimes work together, as for the painting above, or make illustrations on their own. Biographical information on Vallejo is here and for Bell here.

Through a Dark Red Veil - by David Palumbo
Palumbo is Julie Bell's son from a previous marriage, as mentioned here.

Demon Hunter - by Gerald Brom
As this indicates, he has been called Brom most of his life, and it does make for a nice, easily-remembered brand name.

Tarzan scene - by Joe Jusko
Biographical information on Jusko is here.

By John Jude Palencar
I don't have a title for this Palencar work.

Guardians - by Raoul Vitale
No Wikipedia entry as yet, but this is what Vitale has to say about himself on his Web site.

Celebrant of Peace - by Volkan Baga
The same applies for Baga. He mentions that for a while he was studio assistant to Donato Giancola, an established fantasy artist.

Illustration for fantasy and science fiction should be given more than casual consideration because it represents one of the few remnants of illustration art as it was practiced before 1970. Incidently, much SFF illustration is make using digital media these days, but the artists mentioned above prefer traditional painting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leon Kroll at the Edge of Modernism

Although Abraham Leon Kroll (1884-1974) studied art in Paris when Cubism was about to burst on the scene and many other art isms were in place, he never delved very far into modernism. Art gallery biographical notes are here, here and here (the Wikipedia entry is skimpy).

If Kroll was never much of a modernist, his work is clearly not in the traditional vein either. Generally speaking, he tended to simplify his subjects to the point where viewers would see that this was a stylistic intent. To this degree he was a modernist. I discuss in detail the problems artists of his generation faced in my e-book "Art Adrift."

Kroll's style varied somewhat over his career, so it can be a little hard to spot his work aside from paintings of nudes in urban settings (see the photo at the bottom).


Eastern Point Lighthouse, Gloucester - 1912

Queensborough Bridge - 1912

Broadway and 42nd Street - 1916

Central Park scene

Manhattan Rythms

Santa Fe Hills - 1917

Four Maids Combing Their Hair - 1919

Dorshka - 1929

Woman in red beret

Kroll working on the painting "Summer, New York"

Monday, March 25, 2013

Teresa Saia, Best at La Quinta

I don't often go to art shows. From my point of view, most of what I see at them in the way of paintings (my main interest) is mediocre. Plus, the shows I do visit have evolved to become largely arts-and-crafts shows with a lot of photography thrown in and comparatively few paintings. When I was a lad, such shows seemed to have lots of paintings. Sic transit something or other.

A show I now visit fairly regularly is the La Quinta Arts Festival, held in the city of La Quinta in the Palm Springs area of California early in March each year. I visit it because my wife spends two weeks watching the Indian Wells tennis tournament and, when I'm not in the taxi driver role, I try to occupy my time as best I can. So the art show takes up part of a morning and keeps me away from coffee shops.

The show management cites magazines that claim it to be one of the top such shows in the country, though I'm not sure how such findings are made. Like other such shows these days, most of it deals with sculpture, photography, clothing, jewelry, furniture and perhaps a few other things I can't recall. In any case, I don't consider myself qualified to evaluate the quality of such items. For the most part the paintings fall into what I consider the "pretty good" range from a technical standpoint. Subject matter tends to be skewed to what the artist has found to be salable. That's because, so far as I can tell, the artists exhibiting at La Quinta do art as a full-time job.

Along with the matter of artists selling their wares, prizes are awarded. This year's winners are mentioned here. Leading the pack is Teresa Saia, who is a fellow Seattle dweller. I wandered by her tent, spotted the blue ribbon and noted that quite a few of her paintings had already sold (this was the morning of the second day of the four-day show). She was busy talking to other people, perhaps potential buyers, so I moved on to view other displays.

I remembered Saia's works from last year because they were richly colored landscape and cityscape pastels that at first glance seemed like oil paintings. But this year she had some nice thinly-painted oil landscapes on view that in some respects reminded me of Bernie Fuchs' landscapes (here are some examples of his work). Unfortunately, I could find no Web images of Saia's oils of the kind I saw.

For once, I agreed with the judges, because I thought Saia's works were the best on view at La Quinta. Here are examples of her work. The first three are pastels, a fragile medium in my opinion. Of the final two, one is definitely an oil, the other looks as though it might be. Note that she tends to show scenes from a viewpoint looking towards the sun.


The Light Within - pastel

Landscape pastel

Reflecting pool pastel

Morning Pasture - oil?

Evening Light - oil

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seen in Florida

Compared to places I've lived such as Korea and Upstate New York, Seattle has a pretty mild winter. My wife, who lived for many years in California, begs to differ. Seattle's winters feature short days, plenty of overcast and even rain. Although it isn't frigid, it can be pretty gloomy. So we head off to sunnier places for much of November through March. For the last two years this has included Florida, at the opposite corner of the contiguous United States.

It turns out that the airline distance from Seattle to Orlando or Miami is about the same as to Honolulu. Plus, the route is over land, unlike the Hawaii run that is seriously lacking in emergency landing fields. Better yet, with a rental car, one can range over a lot of Florida to visit a variety of sites, unlike the islands where you are pretty much stuck once you arrive.

Even though many readers, especially those living in the Midwest and Northeast, have visited Florida, I thought I'd post some photos I took so that others might become aware of what can be found there.


A few miles down the shoreline road from downtown Miami is the Vizcaya estate, built by the bachelor scion of a farm equipment manufacturer who, like other rich Americans, brought many objects of art and architecture from Europe to the New World. The Wikipedia entry on Vizcaya is here. Photography of the interior is forbidden, so I can offer only some exterior views.

South Beach

The South Beach portion of Miami Beach is perhaps best known these days for its collection of Art Deco style hotels that were built in the 1930s and very early 1940s. Aside from the buildings, I have to say I'm not fond of South Beach, lively though it can be. Many of those buildings along Ocean Drive have restaurants by or even on the sidewalks, and there are so many and competition is so fierce that a number of them hire pretty girls to entice you to a meal.

New River, Fort Lauderdale

The southeast coast of Florida is home to thousands of fancy boats and yachts that somehow weather the occasional hurricane. The photo below was taken from the Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Tarpon Springs

A short ways north of St. Petersburg on Florida's west coast is Tarpon Springs, a small city with a large Greek population. One can eat lots of Greek food, enjoy watching the boats and even take a tour out to an island on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

Universal Studios, Harry Potter Area
The Big Deal for tourists in the Orlando area is Walt Disney World. But once that becomes old hat, there are other attractions, one of which is the east coast version of the Universal Studios theme park. So far as I'm concerned, it's okay, but doesn't measure up to Disney. The area I liked best was devoted to Harry Potter. Below are a few street scenes. Yes, it was actually raining that day.

Hard Rock Cafe

You have to eat someplace. So my wife chose the Hard Rock Cafe, a venue we normally avoid. The most striking thing for me was the pink Cadillac rotating above the bar.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anglada-Camarasa, Colorful Catalonian

Since the time of Goya, Spanish painters who spent much of their careers in Spain have been usually neglected by art historians and the art public. I think this is unfortunate. (Picasso and DalĂ­ made their names in France, though Sorolla's reputation is on the rise.) One of several noteworthy Spanish painters active in the early twentieth century was Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa (Hermenegild Anglada i Camarasa in Catalan) whose first name is often rendered Hermen (1871-1958). Although he was born in Barcalona, Anglada spent years in France, first as a student, later as an exile. And for a large share of his life he lived and painted landscapes in Majorca.

His English language Wikipedia entry is here, and a more detailed entry in Spanish is here.

Spanish artists have the reputation of being especially fond of the color black, and Anglada used his share. But he also made good use of bright colors to the point where some of his work has been associated with Fauvism, a movement he was well aware of. He also has been mentioned as a kind of Catalonian Gustav Klimt with respect to his treatment of women in some of his paintings.

I find Anglada something of a mixed bag. Much is rather heavily painted and, due to influence by the modernist styles that abounded in his day, there is inconsistency in his approach and little in the way of artistic progression. Nevertheless, several of his paintings are arrestingly interesting, particularly those featuring women and some of his later landscapes.

Here are examples of his work. Titles are in French, Spanish and Catalan, depending on the source. They are arranged in chronological order, though some are undated and their timing is speculative.


Paisatge amb pont - 1890

El casino de Paris

Estudi de retrat de Mme. Berthe - c.1900

La morfinomana - 1902

La paon blanc - 1904

À la cafeteria - 1904

Champs Elysées - 1904


Sonia de Klamery, Comtessa de Pradere - 1913

La Sibila - c.1913

La gata rosa

Calle mallorquina - 1935

Monday, March 18, 2013

Glackens Beyond the Ashcan

William Glackens (1870-1938) was a newspaper artist and painter usually associated with the Ashcan School of artists active in New York City in the early 1900s. His Wikipedia entry has more than the usual detail, and stresses that he was most heavily influenced by French Impressionist Auguste Renoir. Another useful biographical site is here.

In any case, Glackens' style evolved over his career, passing through the rough, realist Ashcan look through a Renoir-inspired era and ending with a dash of 1930s simplified solidity.

Unlike some of the other Ashcan artists such as John Sloan, Glackens did not strongly focus on the life and times of the lower elements of society, but seems to have preferred associating with and depicting the upper-middle class and those even higher such as art collector Albert Barnes.

Here are examples of his work dealing with people as opposed to landscapes and cityscapes, which he also painted at times.


Figures in a Park, Paris - 1895

Seated Actress with Mirror - 1903

Chez Mouquin - 1905
Perhaps his most famous painting.

The Shoppers - 1907
That's Glackens' wife in the center.

Cafe Lafayette - Kay Laurel - 1914
She was a Ziegfeld Follies performer also known as Kay Laurell.

Kay Laurel - 1915

Nude, unfinished - 1920s
Very Renoir-like.

The Soda Fountain - 1935
Glackens slides slightly from Renoir to 1930s simplified-solids style not long before his death.