Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta, R.I.P.

I was introduced to Frank Frazetta's work through a couple of paperback art books collecting images of his paintings that my friend's family owned. I was in 5th or 6th grade and looking at those pictures brought about an unidentifiable sense of euphoria. His renderings of flesh, metal and marble seemed impossible to have achieved and yet there was the evidence, before my eyes, these materials illustrated perfectly. But it was not just the illusion of surface, it was his conveying of weight and gravity in his figures, their sublime gesturing, swords parrying, languidly laying, voluptuous women. Everything. The imagination on display, his paintings were windows to fully realized worlds we knew existed somewhere, but had never seen before.

I rediscovered Frazetta's work in college while studying illustration. A professor of mine, lecturing on science-fiction and fantasy illustration said "You publish a blank book with a Frazetta cover and it would sell." I have no doubt.

After college I began to take art creation very seriously as a sacred act. I was young. I dismissed all illustration, but in the back of my mind I still coveted being able to draw and paint not only like Frazetta, but also draw and paint his subject matter: warriors, women, monsters, etc. Eventually I shed my narrow outlook and let comics and fantasy illustration back into my heart. It never had left really.

It's a sad day to learn of Frank Frazetta's passing. He has meant so much to burgeoning artists of all disciplines, his technique and genres are vehicles for feelings of excitement and passion and the limitlessness of imagination. I truly believe he will always be remembered as a true American visionary. He will always be alive in the vast scope of his artistic influence and in the souls of everyone his pictures touched, which I believe is anyone who has seen them. I read in an essay bemoaning the fact that Frazetta's work was not included among the greats in museums. But I believe the temple that keeps and respects his legacy is safe within the hearts those who will always revere him and his genius. Frazetta's emotional content is like the earth and cosmos, base level, and have no need for shelter in the sometimes cold and blind hallways of self-important institutions.

Thank you, Frank Frazetta, for what you shared with us, what you gave to the world.

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