Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rudolph Belarski's Pulp Art

Rudolph Belarski (1900-1983) was one of many illustrators whose early career was spent painting covers for the many "pulp" (low-quality paper) magazines that were especially popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s thanks to their low prices and ability to distract readers from the hard times. A short biographical sketch is here.

Belarski came from Pennsylvania's coal mining country, but was able to get away to New York City and study engineering and art at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute. Unlike his contemporary, Walter Baumhofer, Belarski never graduated from pulp to "slick" magazines, but he did move on to illustrating covers for paperback books.

Below are examples of his pulp work, 1928-1943.


War Stories cover - 16 August 1928
Early Belarski cover art. It's not well done. The helmets of the (probably) American soldiers are a lot smaller than in reality, which helps to make the heads unconvincing.

Aces cover art - July 1930
This is better, though the scene is improbable -- the American pilot twisting around to fire the dead gunner's Lewis gun at a pursuing German fighter. Perhaps the magazine featured a short fiction story that included this action.

British or American soldiers attacking
Again, Belarski has trouble drawing Great War British style helmets, though these are better than in the earlier image.  The case was the same for many illustrators and fine artists, including William Orpen.

War Birds cover - June 1936
A Three Musketeers theme, though the flyers are in American planes.

Thrilling Mystery cover - November 1936
Damsel in distress. The red dress helps attract the attention of news stand browsers, a standard pulp cover practice.

Argosy Weekly cover - 8 January 1938
That airplane really interests me because it resembles the De Havilland Vampire jet fighter that first flew in 1943. Belarski's plane seems to be rocket powered.

The Phantom Detective cover - n.d.
Belarski's technique has improved considerably by the time this cover was painted -- I'm guessing it's from the end of 1930s or the early 1940s.

Charging French poilus
Probably painted in 1939 after World War 2 started but before France fell in June, 1940.  The helmets are convincing, as is the Char B1 bis tank in the background.

Flying Stories cover - Fall 1943
The geometry of the relationships of the aircraft and tracer bullet streams is haywire, but I assume the art director asked for lots of Japanese army fighters shooting, burning and otherwise keeping the USAAF B-17 occupied.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Adriano Sousa Lopes, Portuguese Semi-Modernist

As best this blog's internal Google search tool can tell, I've never posted about a Portuguese artist. Perhaps that's because there are no famous artists from Portugal. Consider this Wikipedia list -- none of the names mentioned is familiar to me.

Not even listed there is Adriano Sousa Lopes (1879-1944), some of whose work I've noticed on the Internet. His Wikipedia entry mentions that after studying art in Portugal, he went to France and studied under Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard and "from 1904 to 1912, he exhibited regularly at the Salon d'Automne." In 1917-18, during the Great War, he was commissioned as a war artist to depict Portuguese troops serving on the Western Front.

The entry mentions that Sousa Lopes was a modernist, but later changed to a more traditional style. To me, his modernism was tepid. Mostly it boiled down to sketchiness in his paintings and the use of bright, faintly Fauvist color.

On the whole, his work doesn't excite me, though a few paintings are interesting.


As Ondinas - 1908
A painting done in traditional style even though his French teachers were modernists. Perhaps this was done with the intent of pleasing the Portuguese art establishment of his time.

Le Moulin Rouge - c. 1910
More a sketch than a finished modernist work.

I don't have a date for this, but guess from the clothing and hair style that it was painted around 1915. Sousa Lopes did a good job here.

Ferme du Bois, distribuição do rancho
A Great War engraving.

Margerite Gros Perroux - 1920
This surprised me, because it's so different from other Sousa Lopes paintings. For now, I'll have to trust the source site, but let me know if another artist painted this.

At the Park - early 1920s
This might be his wife.

Blusa azul - 1925-28
This is probably Sousa Lopes' best known painting, probably of his wife.

Retrato Madame Sousa Lopes - 1927

Great War mural panel in Museu Militar de Lisboa - early 1940s?
Other artists might has assisted in the painting because Sousa Lopes' health was deteriorating.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Edward Arthur Walton, Glasgow Boy

A 19th century school of painting I find interesting is that of the Glasgow Boys (Wikipadia entry here, scroll down for Glasgow Boys material). One of the original Boys was Edward Arthur Walton (1860-1922), biographical information here.

The paintings he did around the mid-1880s featured a style similar to that other Glasgow Boys such as James Guthrie and George Henry, who I wrote about here and here. Later on, his style became more conventional as he turned to portraiture to earn his artistic keep.

I find his Glasgow Boys era paintings less interesting or well done than those of Guthrie or Henry. Perhaps he was paying more attention to technique than to the overall impression the paintings created.


Brig o'Turk (The Trossachs) - 1879
A pre- Glasgow Boys landscape.

A Berwickshire Field-Worker - 1884

Joseph Crawhall - 1884
Crawhall was a fellow Glasgow Boy.

Noon-day - 1885-86

A Daydream - 1885
One of Walton's best-known paintings.

The White Flower
This is undated, but seems to have been painting while Walton was changing his style.

Miss Jane Aitkin - 1894
Here Walton is painting thinly.

Miss Aimée de Burgh (Mrs Quartermaine) - 1904
Nice depiction of character.

The Portfolio - 1905
Back to heavy brushwork.

Andrew Carnegie - 1911
Not all of his subjects were unknowns.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Earle Bergey: Pinups, Pulps, Paperbacks and More

Earle K. Bergey (1901-1952) earned a good deal of his living painting cover art for "pulp" (printed on really cheap paper) magazines. But there was more to him than that.

His Wikipedia entry mentions that Bergey studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for four or five years, but this more detailed source mentions that his attendance was at evening school and that there is no record of his having graduated. Nevertheless, he probably received at least a little good training. Bergey worked at the Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper for a while, but then drifted into painting pinups and pulp cover art. By 1948 he also was busy doing cover art for paperback books.

Here are examples of his work.


Starling Stories cover - May 1948
This cover is pretty standard science-fiction pulp cover fare from those good old days featuring a monster, a heroic man and a scantily-clad woman in distress. One difference is that the illustration is slightly better done than what was usually seen on sci-fi mags ten years earlier.

Fantastic Story Quarterly cover - Fall 1950
Here we have pretty much the same thing, but with a better view of the BEM (bug-eyed-monster).

Starling Stories cover - May 1951

Starling Stories cover
Two more Bergey sci-fi pulp covers. Note the similarity of the space ships diving towards the lower left corner of each cover. As for those large images of women, note that they are well done. It seems that Bergey liked to paint beautiful women and was good at it.

Thrilling Wonder Stories cover - December 1950
The lion in the background is also convincingly done.

Pinup - mid-1930s

Thrilling Love cover - March 1948
Bergey offers this face that's part glamour and part girl-next-door -- a well-dressed version of Bettie Page.

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" paperback book cover - 1948
The postwar paperback edition of Anita Loos' best-known book.

Saturday Evening Post cover - May 25 1935
Bergey was a Philadelphia guy, so he also did a cover for the town's most famous magazine.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

More Illustrations and Sketches by Albert Brenet

I wrote about Albert Victor Eugène Brenet (1903-2005) here. He was a popular French illustrator and marine painter for many years (French Wikipedia entry here).

He enjoyed going on-site to capture the scenes he wanted, acquiring a sketchy style that he would sometimes use in more formal works and advertising art. Below are some examples.


Le Train Bleu - album cover
The Train Bleu was an express train that whisked tourists to the French Riviera. Milhaud wrote the score for a ballet using it as its setting. The illustration was probably made for other purposes and later used for the album. Below is a similar illustration by Brenet.

Train Bleu leaving Gare de Lyon
This railroad station is used for trains heading to Provence and other destinations. The illustration used for the album cover shows Train Bleu unloading in Antibes, or perhaps an imaginary, evocative station.

Basilique Saint-Marc de Venise - c.1960

Mechaniciens travailant sur un Thunderjet - c.1954
The Armée de l'Air used American F-84s during the early 1950s.

Directing armored car convoy

Fuelling a Constellation
Air France flew Constellations in the 1950s before the Jet Age.

Imperial Airways poster - 1930s
A poster done in a sketchy style. Perhaps this was expected of French illustrators.

La preparation de l'hydravion

La wagon restaurant
A dining car scene, probably for a railroad client.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Strange, Dark World of Zsolt Bodoni

Zsolt Bodoni (1975- ) is a Budapest-based painter who creates dark (usually), vaguely Surrealistic scenes combining nearly realistic drawing with nearly abstract settings. He is basically hinting at things, but includes enough detail in a painting to make viewers such as me very interested in what he has going on.

A biographical note is here. It states: "Born in Élesd, Romania in 1975, Zsolt Bodoni received his MFA from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary." I should point out that he comes from a place in northern Romania close to the eastern border of Hungary, a zone where ethnic Hungarians had lived for centuries.

Bodoni usually paints in acrylics and oil, but sometimes overpaints photographs with acrylics. Many of his paintings are large, between one or two meters on their longest side.


Ignis Fatuus - 2011

In Bloom - 2012

Horses - 2012

Untitled - 2014
Some of Bodoni's more recent paintings are brighter.

Untitled - 2014
Another brighter, recent work.

The Room - 2012

Szent Istvan II - 2010
Saint Stephen is the name of this imaginary aircraft carrier.

Merlin - 2010
The Merlin was a World War 2 vintage V-12 aircraft motor designed and built by Rolls-Royce.

Propeller - 2010
Rear view of a Merlin with its propeller.

Stalin's Head - 2008

Stalin's Boots - 2009