After posting a couple of magazine covers by American illustrator Gordon Ertz I thought he deserved a closer look, especially when documentation about his life is lacking; even the Library of Congress only lists his birth year, 1891, while nobody seems to know when he died. (Update: See the comment below by Douglas A. Anderson for biographical details.) Mr TjZ is to thank for this post (thanks!) after identifying one of the Double-Dealer covers as an Ertz. I said in a mail to Joe that I’d not seen Gordon Ertz’s name before, but a consequence of writing these posts for so many years is finding that I have mentioned somebody a decade or more ago then forgotten all about them. Thus it was with Ertz whose cover for The Golden Book first appeared here in 2010.
The Inland Printer was a magazine for the print trade which commissioned covers from illustrators, all of whom seem to have been given free reign. Or they were until the 1920s when the magazine abandoned this kind of frivolity. Most of the available Ertz oeuvre is magazine covers and book illustrations from the 1910s to the 1920s, but his later work includes this map from 1936 intended as a guide for the anglers of North America. The map was designed and annotated by Joe Godfrey Jr, a writer whose subsequent books about fresh-water and salt-water fish were also illustrated by Ertz.
Continue reading “The art of Gordon Ertz”
Jetpac (1983) by Ultimate Play The Game. Lunar Jetman was the superior sequel but Jetpac had the better loading screen.
• RIP Clive Sinclair. Products made by Sinclair Research Ltd. were among the first electronic gadgets I owned: the Sinclair Scientific calculator which compelled you to learn Reverse Polish notation before you could use it; the ZX Spectrum computer, of course; and the pocket TV that came bundled with the computer, a machine with such feeble reception that it only ever worked outdoors. I’ve still got my Spectrum computer, and it still worked the last time I plugged it in although it’s hardly worth keeping when emulators proliferate. Spectacol for Android is a good example of the latter. Related: World of Spectrum; the early stages of the Spectrum design process by Sinclair designer Rick Dickinson; XL-1 by Pete Shelley, electro-pop with Spectrum-generated lyrics and graphics.
• Mixes of the week: A Lee “Scratch” Perry tribute mix by Dennis Bovell, and Blood Tide Station 1: Breakaway plus Blood Tide Station 2: Force of Life by The Ephemeral Man.
• “It’s not an easy time to be daring,” says Dennis Cooper, talking to Barry Pierce about his new novel, I Wished.
• London under London: Adam Zamecnik interviews Tom Chivers about searching for London’s lost rivers.
• New music: Ode To The Blue by Grouper, and A Shadow No Light Could Make by Nathan Moody.
• At Public Domain Review: 700 years of Dante’s Divine Comedy in art.
• At Wormwoodiana: The Mushroom Man—A Note on EC Large.
• DJ Food trips out with a collection of psychedelic drug posters.
• Nodnol (1969) by The Spectrum | Spectrum (1969) by The Tony Williams Lifetime | Spectrum (1973) by Billy Cobham
The development of the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century led to the publication of many books and periodicals offering design suggestions to artists, craftspeople and decorators. The more popular examples, like the long-running Dekorative Vorbilder, comprised collections of plates by different artists, in styles that ran from imitations of rococo decoration to the latest Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) graphics. Other books presented designs by single artists. Alphonse Mucha created two of these, Documents Decoratifs (1902) and Figures Décoratives (1905), while also collaborating with Maurice Verneuil and George Auriol on Combinaisons Ornementals (1901). Verneuil produced a book of his own designs, L’Animal dans la Decoration (1897), in which animals of all kinds were depicted in Verneuil’s precise and versatile Art Nouveau manner.
Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst (The Animal in Decorative Art) is an Austrian equivalent of L’Animal dans la Decoration, and one in which artist Anton Seder didn’t feel as constrained as Verneuil by biological accuracy. Three of the plates in Seder’s book are devoted to a variety of snarling dragons that were probably more useful for illustrators than interior designers. The rest of the book is a combination of reality and fantasy, with fish in various states of pop-eyed alarm, a collection of piscine grotesques that I’ll be looking at if I ever have to draw the inhabitants of Innsmouth again, and many beautiful renderings of birds, reptiles, crustaceans, feathers and shells. Seder’s book was reprinted by Dover Publications as Fantastic Beasts of the Nineteenth Century but you can browse or download the original for free here. (The date given at the Internet Archive is 1896 but several of the plates show dates later than this.)
Continue reading “Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst”
Harry Harrison used to enjoy referring to the “sexual dimorphism” of the cover art on pulp science-fiction magazines, by which he meant that male astronauts would usually be depicted wearing sturdy spacesuits or functional attire while their female counterparts would be given spray-on outfits with plunging necklines, if they were given any clothes at all. Sexism was still thriving in the future, in other words, with visible male flesh in short supply. This makes the handful of cover paintings produced by Alexander Cañedo for Astounding Science Fiction uncommon enough to be almost unique.
Cañedo was a Mexican-American, born Alejandro de Cañedo, whose covers for Astounding were simply credited to “Alejandro”. The editorial policy at the magazine favoured hard-headed, technology-oriented science fiction, with cover art that avoided the scantily-clad women (and, to be fair, shirtless men…) seen each month on the covers of swashbuckling rival, Planet Stories. Robots and rocket ships were still required at Astounding, however, and half the covers produced by Cañedo feature more predictable imagery. The first of the cosmic nudes appeared after editor John W. Campbell spotted an unsold painting during a visit to Cañedo’s studio. Campbell and his readership regarded the naked males as purely symbolic, which they are up to a point, and Cañedo was praised for his art in the magazine’s letters section. When seen in the context of his overtly homoerotic work the pictures evidently reflect more personal proclivities.
Cañedo is described today as a gay artist, a claim that can’t easily be verified when the available biographical details repeat the same few facts. But his art away from Astounding returned continually to the human body, a subject where his mastery was sufficient to warrant the publication in 1954 of a short guide for artists, How Cañedo Draws the Human Figure. Most of his drawings and paintings listed on auction sites are nude (or semi-nude) studies, with lovingly rendered male figures predominating. Several of his later paintings could easily have served as additional magazine covers. The manipulation of light and colour in these pictures is outstanding, unlike any treatment of male nudes that I’ve seen before, and by an artist worthy of greater attention.
(Note: Most of these pictures are untitled and undated. I’m also not an art dealer so please don’t ask for valuations.)
July, 1954. “Inappropriate” is the title of the picture which doesn’t relate to anything inside the magazine.
Continue reading “The art of Alexander Cañedo, 1902–1978”
Cover by Gordon Ertz for The Inland Printer, June 1916.
• “I worry that enthusiasm is being mistaken for a moral virtue, and negative criticism for a character flaw.” Dorian Lynskey on the dying art of the hatchet job. Also a reminder (not that we require it) that the word “fan” in this context has always been an abbreviation of “fanatic”.
• Culture.pl explores the work of Stanislaw Lem, the science-fiction writer “whose works, abilities and quirky sense of humor convinced Philip K. Dick that he was too brilliant to exist and must have actually been a committee of people”.
• The electronic music of Paul Schütze receives a reappraisal on Phantom Limb in November with a compilation album, The Second Law.
• Aliya Whiteley on Amanita Muscaria, the hallucinogenic mushroom seen in hundreds of fairy-tale illustrations.
• Stuart Firestein talks to Roger Payne about changing the world’s attitude to whales by recording their songs.
• Jennifer Lucy Allan talks to Sam Underwood about his unique Acoustic Modular Synth.
• Jóna G. Kolbrúnardóttir sings Odi Et Amo from Englabörn by Jóhann Jóhannsson.
• A forthcoming release on Dark Entries: Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980–1989.
• Luc Sante looks at Jim Jarmusch’s collages.
• John Grant‘s favourite albums.
• RIP Michael Chapman.
• The Divination Of The Bowhead Whale (1978) by David Toop & Max Eastley | Keflavik: The Whale Dance (1980) by Richard Pinhas | Ballet For A Blue Whale (1983) by Adrian Belew