The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora - A 60 year retrospective of paintings & prints
Exhibition Dates Nov 19th, 2011 -Jan 8th, 2012
James (Jim) Flora is best known for his wild 1940s-50s jazz album covers for Columbia Records and RCA Victor. He wrote and illustrated 17 popular children's books and flourished for decades as a magazine illustrator. Flora was also prolific as a fine artist with a devilish sense of humor and a flair for juxtaposing playfulness and violence, all with a pronounced bent of absurdity....cute — and sinister. Flora once said that all he wanted to do was "create a little piece of excitement. It could be said he over shot his goal with much of his work!
Flora's fine art and music-related illustrations pulse with outlandish figures in cockeyed settings, like a children's book gone horribly awry. Yet his youthful exuberance is 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, and he was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa with bedspread like patterns. Three legs and five arms were standard equipment in some Flora figures, extra eyeballs optional.
Born in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1914, Flora was trained at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (1936-39). After struggling as a commercial freelancer, he accepted a job at Columbia Records in 1942 and moved east. One year later he was appointed art director, and he remained with the company until 1950. That year, frustrated because his bureaucratic tasks left little time to create art, Flora resigned and moved to Mexico with his family. After 15 months of doing little except enjoying life and creating art, Flora returned to Connecticut in 1951 and embarked on a lengthy and prosperous career as a freelance commercial artist and children's book author/illustrator. His clientele was demanding, yet Flora always found time to indulge his fine art impulses. He painted, sketched, created woodcuts, and made relief prints at home and during his travels. Even in retirement, and particularly in the decade before his death in 1998, he created an enormous body of work.
The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora at Dorian Grey Gallery exhibits significant works from the Flora family collection, covering the 1940s to the late 1990s. The offerings consist of temperas on paper; woodcut prints (vintage and estate approved editions); medium and large acrylics on canvas; pen & ink drawings on paper; fine art and screen prints, and branded Flora paper ephemera & children’s publications.
In December, Flora archivist/historian Irwin Chusid has been invited to present an informative lecture on the artist which will include recounting interviews and conversations with the artist & the presentation of never previously exhibited works.
Christopher Pusey 516 244 4126