Jugglers

300.00

2008
Engraving on paper
Edition of 50
38 x 38 cm

Only 1 left in stock

Description

Limited edition relief prints struck from a well-preserved 1957 Flora woodcut. Jugglers depicts a surrealistic circus tableau carved on a solid inch-thick block of wood. The work was created shortly after the end of Flora’s three-year tenure (1954-1956) illustrating LP covers for RCA Victor. Although there is no indication Flora intended the work for an album cover, the image roughly conforms to foot-square LP dimensions.

Flora studied wood engraving, copper etching, lithography, and other processes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, which he attended from 1935 to 1939. He produced dozens of woodcuts throughout the 1940s and 1950s. A few were commercial assignments, but most were undertaken as fine art works. Only a handful of original blocks (such as Railroad Town) remain in the Flora family archive.

This numbered edition of 50 was produced by printmaker Bryan Baker at Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress, Knoxville in 2008. Each impression is deep and cleanly articulated. The Jugglers edition, struck from the artist’s original block, was produced with black ink on 280g archival-quality Rives BFK cream. The block measures 11-1/2″ square, and the full print (with border, larger than shown) measures 15″ x 15″. Each print is hand-titled and numbered at the lower corners, and is authenticated in letterpress type in the bottom center with a stamped, dated seal indicating Jim Flora Art LLC (a Flora family enterprise) and Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress.

Given the organic nature of the printing process, small spots or specks are often present. However, such minute imperfections are common, do not detract or distract from the image itself, and give each print unique characteristics. Production is quality-controlled: only first-rate prints are approved; flawed prints are always destroyed.

Jim-Flora-1950s-photo-bioJim Flora, United States Of America, (1914 Bellefontaine, Ohio - 1998 Rowayton, Connecticut)

James (Jim) Flora is best-known for his wild jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records (late 1940s) and RCA Victor (1950s). He authored and illustrated 17 popular children's books and flourished for decades as a magazine illustrator. At the time, few knew that Flora was also a prolific fine artist with a devilish sense of humor and a flair for juxtaposing playfulness, absurdity and violence. Cute — and deadly.

Flora's album covers pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins who fingered cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns. Yet this childlike exuberance was subverted by a tinge of the diabolic. Flora wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives. Taking liberties with human anatomy, he drew bonded bodies and misshapen heads, while inking ghoulish skin tints and grafting mutant appendages. He was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa like bedspread patterns. On some Flora figures, three legs and five arms were standard equipment, with spare eyeballs optional. His fine art works reflect the same comic yet disturbing qualities.

Flora once said that all he wanted to do was "create a little piece of excitement." He overshot his goal with much of his work.

Born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1914, James Flora was trained at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (1936-39). After struggling as a commercial freelancer, in 1942 he moved to Connecticut after accepting a job in the Columbia Records art department. One year later the label appointed him art director. Flora revolutionized the look of Columbia's ads and retail circulars with his wild cartoonish illustrations. He was promoted several times, and though no longer art director, he began illustrating jazz album covers for the label in 1947. However, his executive chores with the company meant less opportunity to create art. In 1950, Flora resigned and moved to Mexico with his family.

After 15 months of exotic life south of the border, during which he and his wife created a mountain of art, Flora returned to Connecticut in 1951. He embarked on a lengthy and prosperous career as a freelance commercial artist, children's book author/illustrator, and album cover designer for RCA Victor. Despite the demanding deadlines, Flora found time to indulge his fine art impulses. He painted, sketched, created woodcuts, and made relief prints at home and during travels. Even in retirement, and particularly during the decade before his death in July 1998, he created an enormous body of work. For more information about Jim Flora Chusid and Economon have published three anthologies of his art with Fantagraphics Books: The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora, and The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora. La Fiambrera Art Gallery is proud to present James Flora’s mischievous art to public thru his fine art prints, serigraph prints, and woodcuts, by special arrangement with the Jim Flora Estate and co-archivists Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon.