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Mischievous Art of Jim Flora Paperback – October 15, 2004

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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*Starred Review* Old-LP collectors, in particular, are in for a shock of recognition when they open this almost-LP-jacket-sized album: "Hey, this is the guy!" Right, Jim Flora (1914-98) is the guy, the one who made those astonishingly energetic early LP cartoon-art covers, on which, for instance, jazzmen were playing so hot that their bodies flew apart like unstrung marionettes or, at the other extreme, melted together (apparently not altogether pleasantly: look at those bristling teeth on Inside Sauter-Finnegan). A drawer from childhood on, Flora turned to commercial art after giving up, for financial reasons, an architecture scholarship. He forged his distinctive style as the artist for a little magazine that he and another literarily inclined student put out on a shoestring. Cubism, Miro, Klee, and, especially after a year and a half in Mexico at midcentury, the great muralists Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, influenced Flora; a further great Mexican, Covarrubias, who did a lot of commercial art himself, shows in the poses and contours of Flora's figures. Flora characteristically used four or fewer colors--bright, even pastels that, with the sharpness of his line, make his drawings suggest linocuts. His work virtually always provokes a smile, and pop-culture preservationist-revivalist Chusid accompanies a tidy gallery of it with his own and others' writing about and interviews with Flora. And mirabile dictu, the book seems to be typo free! Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Irwin Chusid, based in Hoboken, NJ, is a journalist, music historian, radio personality and self-described “landmark preservationist.” Since 1975, Chusid has been a DJ on free-form radio station WFMU in New Jersey. He is the author of Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music. He has produced landmark reissues of the music of composer/bandleader/electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott, Space Age Pop avatar Esquivel, the Langley Schools Music Project, and has salvaged the careers of now-celebrated icons like Jim Flora.

Jim Flora was born in 1914 in Ohio and passed away in 1998 in Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; First Edition edition (October 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560976004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560976004
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,915,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jacob K. Covey on November 29, 2004
Full Disclosure: I am Art Director for the publisher, although this book was completed before I arrived. That said, this is an incredible and much-needed look into the work of one of the artists that defined the concept of record cover art. A darkly fanciful artist with explosive vision, Flora worked alongside Alex Steinweiss to conceive of what album art should be. There is no way to overstate how important his work is (then and now) and what a shame it is that it took so long to give him his due. Less restrained-in fact, more exuberant-than the revered Blue Note covers, Flora's art put a different face on jazz and classical. One just as accurate but with uninhibited joy in a shadowy world. If you enjoy the likes of the modern low-brow masters (most notably Tim Biskup) you must own this. If you want history on record cover art (which is painfully lacking on the bookshelves), you want an inspiring coffeetable read, or just want to look all hipper-than-thou, then buy it. Fantagraphics has made a beautiful collection in this book.
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This book is a terrific introduction and overview of the beautiful, grotesque, familiar and yet shockingly fresh work of Jim Flora. It's pure eye candy, Flora's limited color palette illustrations are brilliantly reproduced in large scale. Essays by Irwin Chusid and others are both witty and informative. You'll come away from this book inspired and giddy.
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Click on the "look inside this book" and the images speak for themselves -- jubilant, creepy, manic, economical. This is illustration of the first order: it captures a specific time and place and yet is so idiosyncratic and sure of itself that it transcends commercial illustration and enters the realm of high art.

This, the first book on Flora, is probably the most essential, containing the Columbia and RCA album covers as well as Flora's work for the Little Man Press.

The text is intelligent featuring assessment of the work, reminiscences, and stories from Flora (who died in the late 1990's.)

With an Album Cover Discography, Bibliography and Illustration Vita, and Vintage Album Cover Bibliography.
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In the digital world, why do books such as this become collectible and high priced? why not keep them published? The collectible prices are helping the author or the publisher... must be a business decision, of course.
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The artwork is original and inspiring. I love the Columbia Record covers from the olden days.
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