Tuesday, May 11, 2010

RIP Frank Frazetta (1928-2010)

The art world lost one of its treasures yesterday.  Frank Frazetta was one of my idols, not just in his professional career of more than half a century, not just because of his revolutionary painting style and realistic treatment of human anatomy, but also because the man pioneered illustrators' rights in the world of commercial art.  It is because of the latter that many of my working artist friends retain the copyright to their work after delivery.  Used to be 100% work-for-hire.  The pulp magazines would pay artists a pittance and end up owning the original art.  Frank was among the first to employ the concept of publication rights and various licenses.  Nowadays, work-for-hire contracts are the exception.

In the above paragraph, I noted his realistic treatment of human anatomy.  Famed for painting lush fantasy landscapes populated by scantily-clad barbarian warriors, princesses and slave girls, Frank put meat on his subjects.  Unlike the subjects of artists to follow, like Boris Vallejo (who used bodybuilder models), Frank's characters weren't slick and full of unnecessary detail.  They might be muscular and huge, but it wasn't overstated.  His men were just as naked (if not more so) as his women.  His women had curves.  They had boobs, and tummies and dimpled asses.  I think it was probably my exposure to that ethic of "normal-as-beautiful" at such a young age that somewhat influenced the physical traits I found attractive in a partner. 

He was also the master of capturing an incredible amount of energy in one moment and putting it on canvas.  Look at any one of his hundreds of pieces, no matter if it's an action shot or a character in repose; the people in his paintings are simply exuding an energy of their own.  They're alive, in that one moment captured.

There is simply too much to write about Frank, his influence upon generations of artists, illustrators, filmmakers and photographers.  About his influence upon popular culture in general.  About his influence upon the business side of commercial and fantasy art.  But his legacy is clear, and will be felt for generations to come.  I'm proud to have lived in his time.

Fair winds, Frank.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOVE it! - Jam