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Raising the roof


Roger Dean’s album cover art extends further than his sleeve illustrations for Yes. His earlier designs for the Vertigo label showed his visual invention to good effect, and a couple of those designs have had their imitators. The cover art for Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening by the Keith Tippett Group is one that I’ve seen copied although I forget where for the moment so you’ll have to take this on trust. (Ahem.)


The church steeple blasting off from Space Hymns (1971) by Ramases is borrowed somewhat crudely in a 2011 ad for the Wien Museum which shows Vienna’s St Stephen’s cathedral undergoing a similar transformation. The Ramases idea is so eye-catching I’m surprised I’ve not seen it imitated before, although it wasn’t Dean’s invention; in his Views book he says that it was the group’s idea, and they gave him a thorough brief. I presume by this he means that they also wanted the spire as a cover detail, and looking sufficiently rocket-like to give a surprise when the sleeve is opened.




This was a surprise. My first thought on seeing the cover for Ethel Archer’s “book of verse”, The Whirlpool, was that its swirling waters were borrowed from Harry Clarke’s typically astonishing illustration for A Descent into the Maelström by Edgar Allan Poe. The problem there is that the Ethel Archer book was published in 1911 while Clarke’s first collection of Poe illustrations didn’t appear until 1919. The cover for the Archer book was by Ethel’s husband, Eugene Wieland, the publisher of Aleister Crowley’s Equinox periodical/occult treatise, and also the publisher of this volume. Crowley provided an introduction to the book. Given these occult associations it’s possible that Harry Clarke might have seen a copy of this. Clarke’s work appeared in Austin Spare’s own occult periodical, The Golden Hind, and he wasn’t averse to producing occult art of his own. This isn’t to say that Clarke necessarily took anything from the Archer book—sometimes a whirlpool is just a whirlpool—but it’s not outside the bounds of possibility.


Babel details


The Tower of Babel (c. 1563) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Seeing as how I have a fetish for Towers of Babel I ought to have examined this one sooner, the copy at the Google Art Project being one which allows you to explore the surface of the picture in greater detail than the artist himself would have seen unless he was using a magnifying glass. I still find the Art Project interface awkward so the grabs here were taken from a massive jpeg at Wikipedia: 30,000 pixels across, or 243 MB, scaling up to around 1.84 GB in Photoshop which means it’ll make older machines grind in complaint.


Pennyroyal Caxton Bible

moser bible 1.jpg

Thanks to the generous donation of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, the Princeton University Library is the proud new owner of the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, designed and created by Barry Moser [seen above]. Moser spent four years crafting the 232 relief engravings that illustrate this Bible. Printed in a deluxe limited edition by the Pennyroyal Caxton Press, Moser’s Bible is also available in a trade edition released by Viking Studio, which can also be found in Princeton’s collection.

The Holy Bible: Containing All the Books of the Old and New Testaments. Book designed and illustrated by Barry Moser; printed by Bradley Hutchinson and Harold McGrath; bound by Claudia Cohen and Sarah Creighton; and type designed by Matthew Carter. North Hatfield, Mass.: Pennyroyal Caxton Press, 1999. Graphic Arts Collection. Limited edition, copy 142 of 400. Gift of Bruce and Suzie Kovner.


Video: The King of Comics Documentary – JACK “THE KING” KIRBY

Jack Kriby wikipedia: website: I’m a BIG fan of the king of comics, Jack Kirby! Amazing creative talent and artist. Be sure to check out a great documentary about the LEGEND and the KING of comics! From Smolarek1986′s … Continue reading

(Via Massive Fantastic)



“To live is to war with trolls” –Henrik Ibsen

In my view, there was no better draftsman in 20th century illustration than the great Robert Fawcett.

Some might look at this drawing for Good Housekeeping and dismiss it as “typical boring 1950’s photo referenced illustration.” (Oh, don’t deny it– you know who you are).

But let’s take a closer look:

Up close, the drawing reveals an extraordinary array of marks on paper, from drybrush swirls to bold, virile stripes. Who could squeeze more character into brushwork than Fawcett?

And did you notice Fawcett’s trees, like exploding constellations?

Always, design was paramount for Fawcett. Compare his trees above with the following “fine art” painting by the famous Adolph Gottlieb:

Book Review: Edwardian Opulence

Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century” is the catalog for the exhibition that just opened at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.
It is the fruit of over ten years of work for Angus Trumble, senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art and the team of art historians who have joined forces on the book and the museum show. The book itself is a massive production: 10 x 12 inches, 420 pages, and weighing six and a half pounds.

(Above: The Two Crowns, 1900, by Frank Dicksee)

The period of the reign of King Edward VII lasted from the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 until Edward’s death in 1910. The exhibition follows an eclectic approach, examining not only paintings and photographs, but also costumes, jewelry, silver pieces, sculpture, furniture, and ephemera. Seen and studied together, these various treasures evoke the spirit of the times.


Les Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel


The first edition of Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, ou sont contenues plusieurs figures de l’invention de maistre François Rabelais (The Comic Dreams of Pantagruel, where several figures are contained in the invention of Master François Rabelais) was published in 1565. Since then, these curious figures have been reprinted many time, including this 1922 German edition Die trollatischen Traüme des Pantagruel (Graphic Arts Collection (GA), PQ1687 .S615 1922).

The original prints are attributed the French engraver and illustrator François Desprez, who printed and published two other sets of imaginative designs in 1567; Recueil de la diuersité des habits (A Collection of Diverse Costumes) and Recueil des effigies des roys de France (A Collection of Pictures of the Kings of France). (more…)