I got my copy of The Mischievious Art of Jim Flora, by Irwin Chusid (Fantagraphics 2004), a couple of days ago, and have been admiring it greatly.
The press release about the book describes his work better than I can:
In the 1940s and ’50s, James (Jim) Flora designed dozens of diabolic cover illustrations, many for Columbia and RCA Victor jazz artists. His designs pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins fingering cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns. In the background, geometric doo-dads floated willy-nilly like a kindergarten toy room gone anti-gravitational. He wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring up flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives.
Up until this book, my exposure to Flora's work has been limited to several smallish reproductions in a book about album cover art, a record cover I bought at a garage sale, and Irwin Chusid's web site about Jim Flora.
I already thought Flora was one of the greatest illustrators ever, but I wasn't prepared to have my mind blown all over again. This 11" x 10" book has hundreds of large, clear, bright reproductions of Flora's work, and Chusid has done an amazing job of compiling a bunch of great stuff about Flora, including interviews with him, and remembrances from other artists who loved his work.
I can relate to what Tim Biskup said when he first saw Flora's work: "'This is going to change the way that I draw,' I said out loud in a record store. I was holding a copy of Shorty Courts the Count on LP." Link
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