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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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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Fantasy Art: Alberich Steals the Rhinegold and Rushes Off

Arthur Rackman - Alberich Steals the Rhinegold and Rushes off (1910)

Holy shit, before fantasy art would become the things I wore on my oversized button up silk shirt, it was only celebrated in horrifying children’s books. Arthur Rackman did dozens of illustrations that ranged from the slightly unsettling to the “I will never grow up stable.” One large project Rackman undertook was numerous illustrations for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen which saw the primordial roots of high fantasy still encased in German nationalism. In this picture you will see the dwarf Alberich stealing the magical ring from the less than…

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Fantasy Art: BEGUILED by Barry Windsor Smith

Barry Windsor Smith - Beguiled (1982/1995)

Barry Windsor Smith has been one of my favorite fantasy artists since seeing his work in Epic Illustrated. Smith is distinguishable from other fantasy artists for his near academic style and embrace of the Pre-Raphaelites of nearly a century past. Both Smith’s love of medieval fantasy and classical renderings gives his work an almost timeless quality which compliments the romantic qualities of his paintings. Oh, and he drew Conan in the 70’s kicking the shit out of everyone. Beguiled was suppose to accompany his story of the same name in…

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Fantasy Art: A FIGHTING MAN OF MARS by Frank Frazetta

Hollywood Metal Fantasy Art - A fighting man from mars

Frank Frazetta – A Fighting Man Of Mars (1973)- This painting takes its name from the 7th book in Edgar Rice Burrough’s science fantasy epic The Barsoom Series. This is Tan Hadron, warrior from the Helium Kingdom and beside him is Tavia, a runaway who could take the head off a horse with her hands. The original cover art from the 1930 publication was approximately 150 times less badass than Frazetta’s painting.

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Fantasy Art: PROGENITUS by Jamie Jones

Hollywood Metal Fantasy Art: Jamie Jones - Progenitus

Jamie Jones – Progenitus (2009) — It was only a matter of time before I did this. For anyone nodding their head in approval this is the Jamie Jones and the Progenitus that appeared on the Conflux expansion of the Shards of Alara block of Magic the Gathering. Yes it was the ten mana 10/10 creature and yes we are talking about the card game and no you can not leave. Jones has also done some extraordinary and larger than life art for Magic cards including Awaken the Ancients which…

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