2003-07-11 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein
From The Artists Studio by Susan Hartenstein Rockaway Artists Alliance

“Fisherman’s Dream” by M. Elliott Killian, a watercolor that will be displayed in RAA’s “Local Motion: A Sports Show.” The exhibit runs from July 19 through August 31, 2003.“Fisherman’s Dream” by M. Elliott Killian, a watercolor that will be displayed in RAA’s “Local Motion: A Sports Show.” The exhibit runs from July 19 through August 31, 2003.

Know where the term "pulp fiction" came from? From the 1920’s through the 1940’s popular fiction magazines were produced containing potboiler stories of the Old West, adventures in exotic lands and science fiction. They were often written by authors like Zane Grey and Ray Bradbury under different names. With titles like The Shadow and Thrilling Wonder Stories, these inexpensive magazines were produced on cheap paper. Hence the term "pulp" fiction. The front covers of these publications were frequently melodramatic and lurid, in order to attract as many readers as possible in this highly competitive, highly popular market. In an era that included the Depression, people were looking to escape the trouble in their lives with these exotic, faraway tales of crime, mystery and adventure.

Through August 31 the Brooklyn Museum of Art presents "Pulp Art: Vamps, Villains, and Victors from the Robert Lesser Collection." This touring exhibition contains over one hundred now rare paintings created for the front covers of the "pulp" magazines, by some of the most important cover artists of the day. They include Rafael de Soto, Virgil Finlay and H. Parkhurst, among others. Most of these paintings, created to suit the publishers’ needs, were about 30 inches by 21 inches, with room left at the top for the title, author and story blurb, to be added later. The exhibit displays many of the works alongside the corresponding magazine covers. Once the paintings were photographed they were often destroyed or covered over with another painting. The canvas stretchers were considered more valuable than the original paintings. Therefore, only a few hundred of what must have been 50 or 60 thousand of these paintings remain.

The exhibition explores how the cover images reflect the attitudes of the times, including racial and gender stereotypes and the profound fears and concerns of a population in an era of historical and social transition. "Pulp Art" also examines how the artists drew upon art historical prototypes. Illustrating the continuing influence of this art, a section of "Pulp Art" displays works by certain present-day artists.

The next general meeting of the Rockaway Artists Alliance is Monday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at building T-49, Fort Tilden. Guest speaker is M. El­liott Killian, who will discuss watercolor art. All are welcome. Bring your latest artwork or just yourself.

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