Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fantasy Venuses: Frank Frazetta

Cat girl (1984)

Agent Triple P has only just discovered that the fantasy artist Frank Frazetta died about three weeks ago at the age of 82. In most artistic genres there is always healthy debate about who was best at this and who was best at that; rightly, as tastes and key factors relating to appreciation vary from person to person. Agent Triple P would be surprised, however, if the vast majority of people who appreciate fantasy art wouldn't acknowledge Frank Frazetta as the finest fantasy artist of the last fifty years. Many would say finest fantasy artist ever but Agent Triple P thinks there is a strong case for Arthr Rackham there. Nevertheless, despite coming from a comic books background, his loose and impressionistic paintings changed the style of fantasy art forever. He was much imitated but never surpassed. Famous for his outrageously muscled barbarians his women were, in contrast, soft and rounded like overripe fruit.

The Moon's Rapture (1987)

Frazetta was born in Brooklyn, New York and started to draw at the age of two. By the time he was eight he was enrolled in the Brooklyn School of Art and by the age of sixteen was already working professionally on comic books. After years of tight, comic style illustration Frazetta really made an impact with his cover paintings, done in oils, for a re-issue of Robert E Howard's Conan books in the mid sixties. Dark, brooding, impressionistic, brutal and often filled with horrible things they changed the nature of fantasy illustration overnight. Recently, one of these became the first of his paintings to sell for over $1 million.

Saber-tooths (1977)

He also changed the way that book cover artists were treated: insisting on the return of his originals rather than having them sold or thrown away by uncaring publishers and insisting on the acknowledgement of copyrights. The series of books of his work published in 1975 were the first time a popular, commercial genre artist had had a book devoted to his work. This spawned a whole industry devoted to publishing fantasy artists' portfolios that is still going strong today.

Nude (1985)

His paintings got looser and more luminous during the eighties, when he produced some of his finest work on the female form.


He had been in ill health for some time and a series of strokes meant that he had to learn to paint with his left hand instead of his right. Frank Frazetta died on May 10th 2010 in Fort Myers, Florida.

Egyptian Queen

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