Monday, January 8, 2007

Things we like—Jim Flora (Don’t cut yourself)

[[One of my all-time heroes. One of the first—and last—really brave album designers. Stuck out like a big ole sore thumb. We’re so visually saturated, it’s rare if not impossible any more to look at anything and not be reminded of something else. Flora was that incomparable thing. Both books from Fantagraphics well worth having.]]

[[Text from a NY Times article on Flora and Irwin Chusid’s book The Mischeivous Art of Jim Flora—more for the punchline than the art-world comparisons]]

Flora’s designs are magically simple distillations of Cubism, Surrealism and cartoon madness, with playful figures and instruments floating in planes of color. From the smiling Beatnik kitties on “Mambo for Cats” (RCA, 1955) to the five-armed, four-legged Cubist Gene Krupa bashing away with his mouth open on a Columbia cover from 1947, each figure seems to be on a childlike tear.

Yet despite their apparent innocence, the images also have a jagged, volatile energy.

“You can cut your finger,” Mr. Chusid said, “touching a Flora illustration.”