Friday, November 9, 2012

Alex Ross at NRM

Alex Ross at Norman Rockwell Museum
Alex Ross, who I profiled briefly in 2005, is an American comics artist and illustrator known for his work in the “fully painted” style of comics art.

Ross has been one of the foremost proponents of this style, in which the traditional outline and color approach associated with comics is replaced by fully rendered, painted illustrations, without outlines.

There has been some controversy over this approach (which, as far as I can determine, was first practiced by Will Elder in his work with Harvery Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny in Playboy in the 1960’s). Some critics contend that it is “not comics”, or somehow inappropriate for a storytelling medium. Others, myself included, feel it works just fine, particularly in the hands of someone as accomplished as Ross, and adds to the range and variety of comics storytelling styles.

Ross also is known for his comics covers — dramatic, forceful, and like his comics pages, beautifully realized in water media.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, opens an exhibition tomorrow: Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross, that will be on display through February 24, 2013.

The exhibition has a dedicated mini-site, with detailed information about the show, a bio of the artist and a gallery of selected works. (Kudos for the management and staff of the Norman Rockwell Museum for understanding how to use their website to promote and generate interest in an exhibition! Other small and medium sized museums should take note.)

The exhibition itself was organized by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Like a number of contemporary comics artists, particularly those who work in a painted style (e.g. Steve Rude), Alex Ross proudly wears his admiration for a number of great American illustrators on his sleeve. The Rockwell Museum has drawn on its collection of American illustration to display work by artists who have been particularly influential on Ross as part of the exhibition, including Norman Rockwell, Andrew Loomis and J.C. Leyendecker.

The website points out examples in particular of Rockwell’s work, such as United Nations, that have inspired Ross in the creation of his signature tableaux of heroes, and/or villains, like those above.

The NRM museum store is also featuring relevant prints by Rockwell and books by Loomis, along with books that feature Alex Ross.

You can find more work by Alex Ross on the artist’s own website.

[Via Gurney Journey]

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