Saturday, December 4, 2010

Can a Science Major Appreciate Art?

One of the best illustrators of all time is Frank Frazetta.  This is not about Frank Frazetta.  To do Frazetta justice would require more energy than I feel like applying today.  Instead, this is about books that showcase the work of two other illustrators, Manuel Sanjulian and Jeffrey Jones.

Sword's Edge by Sanjulian (rating: 6/10) is not a comprehensive look at this artist's work but rather a particular segment of his work: illustrations of Robert E. Howard's sword-and-sorcery hero Conan.  Sanjulian's style is much different than Frazetta's, and many people are more familiar with Frazetta's Conan.  Unfortunately this is a short book marred by mislabeled pictures and typographical errors and an introduction that says more about Robert E. Howard than it does Manuel Sanjulian.

I didn't realize until I read The Art of Jeffrey Jones (rating: 7/10) that I had seen paintings of his used to illustrate book covers on fantasy novels.  Like Sanjulian, Jeffrey Jones's style is much different than Frazetta's.  Where Frazetta is detailed Jones is more impressionistic.  And yet energy and dynamics and movement still come through.  This book gives the reader much more of Jones's work than Sword's Edge gives of Sanjulian's work.  And the introduction tells us much much more about the artist.

Frazetta himself gave Jones great praise.  Artist Gerald Brom has said "In the footsteps of Wyeth, Pyle and the Brandywine school, Jeff Jones has kept alive the grand tradition of American illustration as art."  I'm beginning to better understand - me, a science major in college, not an art major! - why the work of Frazetta and Jones and other modern illustrators, as well as that of Wyeth and Pyle and Waterhouse, appeals to me like it does.

Similar books waiting on my shelves:
Knightsbridge: The Art of Keith Parkinson.
Wondrous Strange: The Wyeth Tradition.
Cutler, Laurence S. and Judy A. G. Cutler.  Maxfield Parrish.
Hobson, Anthony.  J W Waterhouse.

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