Quiet Dreams: The Work of Arnold Böcklin

This article continues my exploration into the use of the supernatural and fantastic within the world of art. From the trivial to the classical, fantasy within art has been employed in various fashions and through numerous means. We have looked at the work of the symbolists as a delver into fantastical imagery. The life of Arnold Böcklin is not something of great note as this Swiss artist came through life most like other artists of the same period, studying at an academy and under different tutors, and with time to…

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The Wonder of Real: The Work of Donato Giancola

It is strange talking about realism when it comes to fantasy art. Realism means many different things as it could be related to the qualities of the picture, the subjects of the painting, the idealization of those subjects, or a melange of all of those things. The realism of Jan Van Eyck is different than Jean-François Millet as it is different to Chuck Close. When we talk about the Real we discuss many things that may not be related. Realism, for many, discusses and expresses how things are portrayed and…

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Guilds of Ravnica: Artwork

I love Ravnica and so will you. We are about to fully plunge into spoiler season regarding the next set for Magic the Gathering: Guilds of Ravnica. This set will bring players back to a plane that is a “Ecumenopolis” — a word I just learned which means a worldwide city. Ravnica was initially released in 2005 and with a sequel, Return to Ravnica, in 2012. The announcement of a third installment into this ecumenopolis, instilled a deep seated sense of joy as Return to Ravnica was my first set…

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House Of Life: The Aspirations of George Frederic Watts

The Sower of Systems (pictured below) was a 1902 painting by Victorian painter George Frederic Watts. Watts, a symbolist painter, would die two years later so The Sower of Systems would be one of his last. Sower of Systems is notable for its use of abstraction before the Impressionist and Expressionist movements which would precede the exploration into visual abstraction. Watt’s painting of God creating the world remains a heavily atmospheric painting depicting an obscure entity creating the galaxies and sowing the seeds of life across the darkness. This factoid…

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Life Beyond The Real: The Legacy of John Bauer

John Bauer Dwarf

If you have paid attention to the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few years, you have seen the work of John Bauer and more specifically his illustration “Ännu sitter Tuvstarr kvar och ser ner i vattnet” (Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water). This watercolor was a favorite among Dungeon Synth fans for its vintage quality in fantasy art and the deep folkloric traditions of Swedish myths. The painting came in a collection of other myths which were published in the 1907 anthology “Bland tomtar och troll” (Among Gnomes and Trolls). This painting was popular at its time which was used in a shampoo ad in the early 20th century and later in the 90’s as a cetnerpoint for a nature conservation campaign. For as relativity obscure John Bauer has become int he canon of art and even fantasy art, Tuvstarr has become a beacon for many people to find his work. Even though Tuvstarr has been used in various ways, the lure of imagination and myth is still potent today as it was over a hundred years ago.

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Weird Stories: The Life and Work of Hannes Bok

Stumbling on Hannes Bok was much like anyone other random run in with a fantasy artist. It began with searching through names of artists I did not recognize and then looking at their work and immediately falling in love with everything they did. Most fantasy artists I find fall into the contemporary era of 70’s to the present as the time period fits into the idea of what we think of fantasy. Finding fantastical art done pre 1950’s is rare and it usually belongs to the realm of illustration. One…

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Diminished by Nightmare: The Phantasmal Architectures of Monsù Desiderio

Throughout my writing tenure at Hollywood Metal, I have always been into art — specifically fantasy art. While there is much to discuss on contemporary fantasy art, I have found myself drawn to the fantastic works of pre fantasy — meaning fantasy before it became fantasy as we know it today. Since the mid 20th century, fantasy has taken on certain tropes and stylistic markings that we can easily identify something belong to the fantasy genre or at least near it. My interest in pre-fantasy comes from fantastic artworks made…

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A Life Dreaming: The Fantasies of Richard Dadd

I enjoy fantasy – a lot. Part of my dedications into the idea of fantasy have focused on delving into all aspects of its history. From games to literature to folklore, the term “fantasy” becomes more nebulous when stretched into history becomes even more intangible across centuries when compared to what we know today. Fantastic subject matter before the 20th century has this ethereal quality when placed alongside fantasy art of the last quarter century and becomes the source of great fascination when trying to dissect. A style today that…

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Esoteric Affinity: Symbolism and the Fantastic

In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals. -Symbolist Manifesto by Jean Moréas (1886) My interests lie in fantasy before the idea of fantasy existed. I believe this is where I am walking to with these articles. Being the second article on this time period, there is quite more to discover in terms of visual and cultural zeitgeists?. My purpose is…

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Fantasy Art and the Pre Raphaelites

Fantasy art has always been an interest of mine in conjunction with, unsurprisingly, fantasy literature. Fantasy art now and its short history from the pulp illustration of the early 20th century has its own history which can be examined as a separate entity. Fantasy art after Tolkien and the the advent of high fantasy has become something else entirely worthy of study and obsession. To be honest, I sat down to just do a showcase on one contemporary fantasy artist and found myself drawn to another subject entirely. As much…

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THE PHAROS AT ALEXANDRIA (1975) – Roy Krenkel

pharaoh lighthouse

Roy Krenkel was an American illustrator who was a contemporary, and colleague of fantasy titan Frank Frazetta. Krenkel, along with Frazetta and Al Williamson contributed cartoons for the growing speculative market created by EC Comics. Krenkel’s work can bee in issues of Weird Science, Incredible Science Fiction, and Weird Fantasy and had a savage world charm all of its own. Krenkel’s mastery over black and white detail complimented the strange stories which were written for a strange demographic of teen and young adult fantasy enthusiasts.

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fantasy art: PALADIN (1972) – Roger Dean

Paladin (1972) — Roger Dean’s work has been seen on a lot of album covers if you happen to really like progressive rock. Perhaps one of the most recognized connections is between the artist and the bands Yes and Asia as Dean has done the covers for pretty much all of their albums. Roger Dean is damn amazing and his brightly exotic landscapes do more at immersion than some novels do. The gatefold cover for Paladin’s 1972 album charge depicts a normal hazy landscape and a figure which is half…

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THE DYING EARTH by George Barr

George Barr – “The Dying Earth” [1976] — This was a paperback spread for the 1976 Underwood/Miller publication of Jack Vance’s 1950 science fantasy novel The Dying Earth. Vance was instrumental in creating the small subgenre which revolved around the depletion of life sustaining resources and a civilization at the end of time where the universe itself is in the throes of death. Barr was instrumental in, well, painting wizards that are doing cool ass shit. It does not take much to impress me.

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