Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frank Frazetta on Love. (NSFW)



One of the blogs that I like to visit occasionally is David Apatoff's Illustration Art. One of the artists that get's mentioned quite a bit is Frank Frazetta, a quite famous artist who was responsible for giving us the image of Conan The Barbarian.  Whilst I can appreciate his art, I'm not that much of a fan of it. Frazetta died earlier this year and David Apatoff, on his requiem post, put up some works of his that I had never seen before. They were extremely moving and I think they are by far his best works. Below are a few examples which are typical of Frazetta's work.




It's all very sexual, muscular and "primitive" for want of a better word. In my eyes it's competently executed but quite schmaltzy.  The overriding feeling that his work engenders is raw, powerful and latent sexuality. But most of his art was done for the purpose of illustrating comic book art so I image it, more than enough, served its purpose. However the his works which really struck me were these two:






Here his work is of a totally different character. The paintings are those of his wife Eleanor, whom he loved deeply. The first image is, as my wife would say, "serenely happy". There is delight and dignity in the subject matter that is all the more striking given the contrast with Frazetta's other works. There is an absence of raw sexuality, rather its an emphasis on his wife's radiant femininity and dignity.  I think what we are seeing here is how Frazetta "saw" his wife. A beautiful, dignified, ladylike, woman whom he clearly loved.

The second image is clearly sexual, but it's sexual in a way that does not seem pornographic or dirty. Here, what we have is a rarely achieved balance of femininity and sexuality, of romantic love and sexual desire. What he manages to convey here, is not only the idea of a woman we would want to "bang" but a woman we would prize and want to be with.  Strangely, the impression this work gives me is that what we are seeing is how Frazetta saw his wife. Paradoxically, even though her eyes engauge mine, I feel like her desire isn't for me but for Frazetta.  What he's been able to capture is an intimate moment between him and his wife only, we have been invited to this moment only through Frazetta's eyes. We get to see the intimate scene through his head so to speak. (He is almost bragging)

What he saw in his wife was the perfect woman. What I think is so powerful about these last two works is that he manages to capture a masculine of view of perfect love. Both images capture the ideal, that of a woman we want to be with, and a woman who wants to be with us; exclusively.

He died a year after she did. They were one.

8 comments:

**** ***** said...

wow. this is pretty much spot on. finding that balance, and this often, i blame on men, i know i battle with it, that ability to see your wife in both lights can be difficult, especially with the advent of digital porn etc.

The Social Pathologist said...

@**** *****

I think the blame goes both ways. Many women really have nothing more to offer than their sexuality, and stripped of it, they are hollow shells.

But you're quite right about men as well. Lot's of men rate women on their hedonic value alone, i.e on the pleasure that they can get out of them. It's only when a man sees his partner as an "extrinsic good", a goodness that is not conditional of his apprehension of it, that he can love like Frazetta.

Kilroy said...

@**** *****

Feminists get tired of the "backlash" constantly blaming women for the current state of affairs between the genders. But I find such comments, i.e. that men are the ones responsible for this, so very, very tedious.

Men court and pursue women - this is the case under the traditional and current (revolutionary) paradigms. It is one of the aspects of gender relations that has not really changed that much at all.

If indeed it is men who generally pursue, and it is, the criteria for successful coupling are naturally and obviously set by the objects of their pursuit, i.e. women.

So, sorry ladies, although both genders have contributed to the present state of things sexually, it is women who have had by far the greatest impact on how things have turned out today.

It has everything to do with the fact that, as the Social Pathologist has quoted on this site before:

"The fair rose is a whore"

In the age of female empowerment, let us hold her accountable for her choices and actions.

The Wondrous Wisp said...

I find all of the comments regarding blame to be needlessly childish and over-generalized. If a man goes to a strip joint, enjoys watching the strippers, starts thinking of women in terms of those strippers, then the fault is with the man, the strippers, the person who employed the strippers, and, the parts of society that allow strippers to exist. It is not the fault of the waitress he treats badly, right afterward, even if she is wearing makeup and mistakenly thinks he is worth having pursue her. But, oddly enough, she is the one most likely to get hurt by his actions, the actions of the strippers, and, the actions of the law makers, because, she is the only one of them who does not think it is lawful or moral to treat women like strippers. And, that is why there are so few women that get seen as Frazetta was seeing his wife - not because of their own actions, but, because of the actions of other people, who do not value them for their hard work, their emotional content, their willingness to please, or anything else, but, are busy judging their worth when stacked up against "enhanced" quasi-female body parts.
If you want to be part of the cure, not part of the cause, reject celebrities who are inhuman looking with their giant lumps of silicone, their airbrushed, cropped, overly made up photos, etc.; stop going to strip joints; stop reading magazines that degrade women - that would be Hustler, Playboy, Shape, Cosmpolitan, and Maxim - which also degrades men!- and, take a firm stand for reality.

As for feminism, all it has really got us is less consideration when pms or pregnancy strikes, but, it has gotten men time off from work when their wife is pregnant. Women still get paid less, and, there is more expectation for them to have sex, since people now act as if there is no excuse not to demand it. It's a frigging joke.

One does not get equal rights by demanding to be treated as something outside of the reality of their sex. One gets equal rights by knowing that, despite the differences, the sexes are equal and living one's life as if one is a real human being, and, respecting oneself. So, that one can embrace both the parts that are most alike in men and women, as well as the beautiful differences, and, on top of that, those things which make the person the unique individual that they are. At least, that is how it is done, now.
As to women being hollow shells, well, that goes both ways, too. Go to a bar with your friends and have men approach you, and, they ask you if they can talk, but, all they can say is "Wow, your beautiful I love your lips." and other inanities. They have nothing to offer of themselves - only words they learned by rote, or expressions of their own desire, which you are supposed to be flattered by, so much that you immediately remove your panties and shag them then and there. And, then, those men judge the women for being the type of women who listens to inanities and then shags strangers in bars. lol

It would be nice if more people in the world would figure out what they really want out of life, ask for that, and, then didn't bitch when they got it.

Frazetta did work on the set of Star Wars, as well as many, many, many wonderful paintings of varying sorts. He was a man of dire talent. Even his work on Little Annie Fannie was intricate and stood out far above others. Yes, he did a lot of cartoon/comic book sort of stuff. But, the images that you showed are not the best representations of his work.Those are some of the more just macho b.s. paintings. In fact, a good lot of his work showed women as being mysterious, powerful, unapproachable goddess types,and, those are probably much closer to how he saw them, as they were not works which, like the others were, to pay the bills. They were the ones done for sheer enjoyment.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keithdraws said...

I'm quite appalled by your reduction of the entire body of work of a master of art to “competently executed but quite schmaltzy” as well as saying it is “very sexual, muscular and "primitive"”. I will grant you it is sexual and there are plenty of muscles and flesh but there is nothing “primitive” about it.

His work is able to set the mind off into a fantasy ride. Like the best music it evokes a massive variety of emotion and puts stories into the head of the viewer. The power of these images is so great that it's difficult to define exactly what it's doing, but for me it's like it stirs a kind of mysterious set of half forgotten memories and emotions.. and so much more. Even the greatest artists of history have seldom been able to do this. For me the only the greats such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci , William Blake, Alma Tadema and Salvador Dali even come close to this.

Is it that you simply are incapable of such emotional rapture, or are you simply an “Art Snob” who thinks because it has something to do with comics it must be inferior.

I think when you find yourself capable of instantaneously producing such reactions from your work as Frazetta did (and still does after his death) then you are qualified to make such statements.

Until then take some old advice, If you can't say something nice then say nothing.

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seveneyedfox said...

I find the paintings of his wife a little strange since it has none of the style of his other work (none of the bronzy colors and stark shadows which highlight the sexualized features of subject matter, none of the dynamism or movement, none of the contours or directionality, etc.). I can't help but feel that in the first one she was just happily posing for him and felt it was fun or a privilege to be the subject of his work and in the second one she is a little bit sad, like her smile is melancholic and she is feeling a little strained from staying in that revealing position for so long, or maybe (if I'm permitted to speculate) she's anxious that she is literally in the position of one of his barbarian fantasy women. By extension this would make her transitively related to them so she replaces and is replaced by them since she occupies their place in Frank's sexual fantasy. Its a fairly straightforward example of objectification, although its odd since these are not the only examples of her as the subject matter of his work. In other paintings/illustrations she looks sultry and sexually empowered as any of his more domineering fantasy women (i.e., the one's that aren't captives or in need of rescue). The second painting is more unfinished and she's in a cloudy non-space so the context is unclear, which adds to the ambiguity, while in the first it is in a more domestic situation. Maybe she got fed up or maybe it wasn't coming out the way he expected or maybe he just decided it was finished. Anyways, these are very odd paintings.