Felix Lorioux

Felix Lorioux was a well known illustrator in his native France, but not as recognized here in the U.S. His fantasy filled, colorful, Art Nouveau inspired illustrations are an excellent match for the storybook subjects he took on.

They were not a good match, however, for Disney’s Mickey Mouse. His attempt to handle the French adaptations of Silly Symphonies were too stylized for Disney’s liking.

Lorioux is best known for his illustrations for children’s books by Charles Perrault. Perrault was a French author who, in the late 17th Century, took folk tales and codified them into the literary form we know today as fairy tales. His tellings of the stories of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, for example, are pretty much the ones we recognize today, not in the least because they were adapted by Disney for their film versions.

A 1927 edition of Perrault’s book Contes de Perrault (Tales of Perrault) contains Cinderella, Le Petit Pouchet (Tom Thumb) and Puss-in-Boots (images at left) illustrated by Lorioux. There is a complete scanned version of the French printing of that book available on the German site Digitale Bibliothek.

Links via BibliOdyssey (illustrated article)


The Nativity – Rembrandt

The Nativity - Rembrandt
The Nativity – Rembrandt, etching 1654, 106x129mm. Larger version here on Rembrandt: life, paintings, etchings, drawings & self portraits.

Addendum: Li-An writes to mention that those near Paris can still catch Rembrandt the Draftsman (EN) (FR) at the Louvre until January 8th, 2007.

Here in the U.S., in the midwest, Rembrandt: Master Etchings From St. Louis Collections goes to January 14, 2007.

Those of us on the East Coast have the opportunity to see Strokes of Genius: Rembrandt’s Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery until March 18th, 2007.

Illustrators’ Visions of Santa Claus

Santa by Thomas Nast, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell and Haddon Sundblom
Over the years, great illustrators have created and shaped the popular vision of Santa Claus. Clockwise from top, left:

Thomas Nast, who gave Santa Claus a form almost like the modern idea in the mid-1800’s, with his clay pipe and arm full of toys (including a sword). You can see some of his visions of Santa here.

J. C. Leyendecker, who really created the modern vision of Santa [correction, see addendum below], and painted a number of memorable Saturday Evening Post covers featuring the jolly elf over the years. You can find them in the SEP cover archive.

Norman Rockwell, along with Leyendecker, provided numerous SEP covers with images of Santa, often with clever takes on the vision of his traditional role. The SEP cover archive has a section devoted to Rockwell Christmas covers.

Haddon Sundblom was an American illustrator who became noted for his yearly portrayals of Santa Claus for the Coca-Cola company. There is a section on the Coca-Cola site, and an album of Sundblom Santas here.

Reginald Birch, St. NicholasAddendum: I stand corrected. Stephen Worth of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive was kind enough to share with us illustrations from 1906 St. Nicholas Illustrated Magazine that show that illustrator Reginald Birch was in fact the one to flesh out Nast’s Civil War St. Nicholas concept into the the red-suited version we know today, prior to Leyendecker.

The Archive has posted a number of wonderful Birch illustrations from St. Nicholas Illustrated Magazine.

(Any fans of classic illustration and animation who are not familiar with ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive should click over there immediately and prepare to be amazed and delighted.)


Hergé at Centre Pompidou

Herge at Centre PompidouIn another clear example of how much more respected comics and cartoons are in Europe and Japan than they are here in the U.S., the Centre Pompidou (George Pompidou Center for Contemporary Art) in Paris has mounted a major retrospective of the comics work of Hergé, the creator of Tintin.

Tintin, whose stories to my mind are one of the first examples of long-form comics (i.e. “graphic novels”), is a character much beloved in France and his native Belgium, and highly respected elsewhere. The exhibit at the Pompidou is in celebration of the fact that Hergé (Georges Remi) would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2007. It also marks the Centre Pompidou’s own 30th anniversary.

There have been flickerings of recognition of comics as a major art form in America, the Whitney, MOMA and other museums have had sporadic exhibits (see my post on the Masters of American Comics exhibit currently in New York), but we still have a lot to get over in a country that continues to regard cartoons, and particularly comics, as juvenile and unworthy of serious attention. Part of the problem, of course, is that Americans associate comics with super-heroes, and aren’t often exposed to the undercurrent of broader subject matter that is flourishing in independent comics and in pockets on the web, and has always existed in Europe and Japan.

In Europe, where currency was for years imprinted with the faces of artists, writers and other cultural icons rather than politicians, art is viewed a bit differently and comics have a natural place in the mix and represent a wide range of style and subject matter.

The Centre Pompidou has draped an enormous banner with the image of the checked moon rocket from Tintin in Space on the front of the building, hinting at the extent of the exhibit inside. Laurent Le Bon, organizer of the exhibit said “It was important for the Centre to show the work of Herge next to that of Matisse or Picasso, important that the museum show Herge as another artist…”.

The exhibit displays over 300 original drawing and plates from Hergé’s career, which spanned much of the 20th Century. He created 24 Tintin albums, including one left unfinished on his death in 1983.

For those fortunate enough to be in Paris, the exhibit runs until February 19, 2007. For the rest of us, see if you can find some Tintin albums in your local bookstore or library. For more on Hergé see my previous post from last July.


Ilene Meyer (update)

Ilene Meyer - The World Below
I wrote about Ilene Meyer’s beautiful Surrealist inspired paintings back in September.

Since then a new book has been released, written by D. Michael Tomkins and illustrated with her nature themed fantastic art paintings. The book is called The World Below and is a children’s story about survival and change in an ancient civilization that has parallels in modern environmental issues.

There is a site devoted to the book, but for some reason that eludes me, the site doesn’t take very good advantage of the book’s strongest selling point, and fails to feature Meyer’s beautiful illustrations as prominently as I would have expected. There is a sample chapter, a video interview with the author, a foreword by novelist Clive Cussler and a few small reproductions of Meyer’s images, but that appears to be it.

If you look harder, though, you’ll see a small row of text links below the main interface. There, amid links for Return Policy and Shipping Methods, is an easy to miss link for “Wallpaper“.

Here you’ll find a little treasure trove of Meyer’s illustrations at a higher resolution than you’ll find on her own site or elsewhere on the web. Until you can pick up one of her books (the other is a collection of her work), this is your best option to get a feeling for the appeal of her highly detailed and freshly imaginative paintings.

The other news is that Ilene Meyer is having her first gallery showing in the U.S. in ten years, at the Arts Partnership Gallery in Tucson, AZ. (Apparently there is no web address, the gallery is at 125 S. Arizona Ave., Tucson, AZ, 520-624-9977.) The show runs from January 12 to February 10, 2007.

Drawing Dinosaurs with David Krentz

Drawing Dinosaurs with David Krentz
I was one of those lucky kids who didn’t “outgrow” my fondness for dinosaurs, or drawing them, as I grew older. They are amazing animals in many ways, and their variation in size, wildly bizarre appearance and astonishingly exaggerated forms make them as much of a delight to draw now as they did when I was 10.

The Gnomon Workshop, a video-based offshoot of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, is now offering an instruction al DVD called Drawing Dinosaurs: Anatomy and Sketching with David Krentz.

Krentz was the lead character designer on Disney’s Dinosaur, a disappointing movie with great character design and effects. (My understanding is that the original plan was to do it wordlessly, like an updated version of the terrific dinosaur sequence in Fantasia, which would have worked great, but Eisner insisted that the dinosaurs talk and have cutsie mammal companions).

Krentz is also a founding member of Ninth Ray Studios, a concept and production art group that includes Iain McCaig, Ryan Church and other major concept artists. In addition to his work on Dinosaur, Krentz has worked on titles like Fantasia 2000, Treasure Planet, Spider-Man 2, The Ant Bully, John Carter of Mars and Eragon.

Krentz is also a dinosaur sculptor, and has a site devoted to his small scale sculptures, of which he sells limited edition castings. His main web site has galleries of his concept art and illustrations for movies and games, as well as examples of his story boards from Dinosaur and John Carter of Mars. There is also a nice gallery of six images on the Gnomon Workshop page for the DVD, in addition to the stills from the video.

It’s interesting to note that his credits include story boards and animatics for Eragon, the new movie that prominently features dragons. Our long history of a fascination with dragons in various cultures just shows that if dinosaurs didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them.