May Wilson’s Snowflakes

wilson1.jpg

Snowflake Series (Pink Netting) (1965).

Discovered yesterday whilst searching for May-related pictures, some pieces from the Snowflake collage series by American artist May Wilson (1905–1986). Wilson was a mail artist as well as a collagist whose Snowflake series draws attention for its deployment of photos from beefcake magazines of the 1960s. It’s a commonplace that women often enjoy seeing gay porn but this interest hasn’t been reflected so much in art made by women. Offhand I can only think of the aforementioned Sibylle Ruppert making use of photos made by men for men. May Wilson produced similar works using glamour photos of women so her interest wasn’t solely concerned with the male form.

wilson2.jpg

Snowflake Collage (Male Nude in Woods) (1966).

Continue reading “May Wilson’s Snowflakes”

Hans by Sibylle

ruppert-giger.jpg

Portrait HR Giger (1978) by Sibylle Ruppert.

Gradually returning to some semblance of normality here although I’ve been away from the blog for so long I feel out of the habit. HR Giger died while I was away, an artist I’ll have more to say about tomorrow. In the meantime here’s something you probably won’t see elsewhere, Giger’s portrait by the equally remarkable (and woefully under-recognised) Sibylle Ruppert (1942–2011). This picture, and many others, can be found in the catalogue for the Ruppert exhibition which was held at the Museum HR Giger in 2010.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
HR Giger album covers
Giger’s Necronomicon
Dan O’Bannon, 1946–2009
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
The monstrous tome

Visionaries: The Art of the Fantastic

hoffman.jpg

Curandera (2011) by Martina Hoffman.

Another US art exhibition, Visionaries: The Art of the Fantastic has been running since mid-July at the QCC Art Gallery, New York. I’d have mentioned this sooner but last month has been rather hectic, work-wise. A great opportunity for anyone in the NY area to see original works by artists such as Ernst Fuchs, HR Giger and the late Sibylle Ruppert, plus many works by newer artists. It also shows how fantastic art (as opposed to fantasy art) continues to pursue its parallel course and draw fresh talent despite never attracting attention from the art critics with the largest megaphones. Not everything in the show is to my taste—I’ve a low tolerance for saccharine, New-Agey things—but the quality and range of the exhibition is impressive. Visionaries: The Art of the Fantastic runs to 20th September, 2012.

abrams.jpg

The Revelation of the Turtle Pond (2010) by Isaac Abrams.

ruppert.jpg

Chant de Mald (1978) by Sibylle Ruppert.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

The art of Robert Venosa, 1936–2011

venosa.jpg

A few years back, while experimenting with the hallucinogens, I experienced visions of a dynamic energy in constant high-velocity motion, crystallizing and manifesting in a form which could only be described as angelic. Potential energy, crystallizing energy and structured energy were all visible in the same instant…time and space transcended. These visions, and a new-found awareness of spirit brought about through worship and meditation, were too powerful not to be expressed: a translation had to be attempted.

Robert Venosa, Manas Manna, 1978.

I only discovered a few days ago that American artist Robert Venosa had died last month. As with the late Sibylle Ruppert there’s the inevitable wish for some wider acknowledgement of the passing of these unique talents.

santana.jpg

Millions of people have seen one of Venosa’s creations without being aware of it: in 1970 he designed the logo/title for Santana’s Abraxas album (the one with the amazing Mati Klarwein cover), a design which is still in use today. But it’s as a painter that he ought to be remembered. Manas Manna was the first collection of Venosa’s art published by Peter Ledeboer’s Big O imprint in 1978, and could be found on bookshelves that year with a pair of equally remarkable auto-monographs: Mati Klarwein‘s God Jokes and the first English edition of HR Giger‘s Necronomicon. All three artists were aware of each other (Venosa was friends with the other two), and all had managed the difficult feat of having their work sold in art galleries whilst also being visible to a much larger audience on album covers. All three books were eagerly plundered that year by the art team of OMNI magazine whose early issues made heavy use of paintings by Klarwein, Giger, Venosa, De Es Schwertberger and others. Of this Venosa has said:

OMNI was the first to give the artist equal credit with the author…something that to this day is still not seen in any other newsstand magazine. OMNI also put Fantastic Realism, Surrealism, Visionary, and every other type of ‘Fantasy’ art, square into the public’s eye. I and my colleagues owe OMNI a large measure of gratitude for its uncompromising stance and visionary concepts.

Venosa had been an art director at Columbia Records in the 1960s, a job he abandoned after he met Mati Klarwein and decided he’d rather devote his time to painting. Despite describing Klarwein in his book as his painting master, only a couple of his pictures are reminiscent of Klarwein’s distinctive style. Many of Venosa’s works are more loose and abstract than Klarwein’s tableaux, extending the processes of decalcomania which Max Ernst refined in works such as Europe After the Rain (1942) and The Eye of Silence (1944) to create stunning views of cosmic eruptions and vistas of crystalline beings rendered in a meticulous, hyper-realist manner. Many of his pictures could serve as illustrations for the later chapters of JG Ballard’s The Crystal World.

If the lazy definition of psychedelic art refers merely to shapeless forms and bright, clashing colours, Venosa’s art is psychedelic in the truest sense, an attempt to fix with paint and brush something revealed by a profound interior experience. This was deeply unfashionable by 1978, of course, but he carried on working anyway, and there are further book collections for those interested in his paintings. The Venosa website has a small selection of his extraordinary pictures although they really need to be seen at a larger size.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive
The fantastic art archive

Sibylle Ruppert revisited

ruppert1-1.jpg

Empusae Raptus (1977).

Another post about this astonishing artist (I’ll keep talking about her if no one else does…). The pictures here are taken from the catalogue for the 2010 Sibylle Ruppert exhibition at the HR Giger Museum, Gruyères, Switzerland. Leslie Barany was good enough to send me a copy of this, and the pictures are posted courtesy of the museum. To purchase a copy of the catalogue contact marcowitzig@gigerworkcatalog.com

ruppert2-1.jpg

Le Chant de Maldoror (1978).

Looking over Sibylle Ruppert’s work this week I’ve been pondering why she wasn’t better known. She was working throughout the 1970s and could easily have been swept up in the vogue for fantastic art when it was being popularised by Omni magazine. Giger, Mati Klarwein, Robert Venosa, De Es Schwertberger and others all benefited from Bob Guccione’s publication, and to a lesser degree from appearances in Heavy Metal magazine. Ruppert’s lack of visibility may have been a result of the usual situation whereby women artists were overlooked or marginalised. But I think it’s far more likely that her work was simply too intense and visceral for the newsstands. Giger could get by with paintings like the semi-abstract NY City series which were attached to science fiction stories without causing a stir. It’s difficult to imagine Ruppert’s work gaining such a popular acceptance, especially in the United States where, lest we forget, Giger’s Penis Landscape did cause a stir in 1985. One of the great benefits of the web is the way so much previously buried culture is surfacing and finding new and enthusiastic audiences. Sibylle Ruppert’s greatest audience has yet to find her but they’re surely out there, you can’t keep work of this quality buried forever.

For a few more Ruppert works see that haven of all things grotesque, Monster Brains.

ruppert3-1.jpg

Le Spectacle de l’Univers (1977).

Continue reading “Sibylle Ruppert revisited”