Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Book Review: 'Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration'

The new book Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration is a comprehensive history of imaginative art.

Curator Jesse Kowalski begins the story with a comparative survey of the art of ancient  cultures, going all the way back to Gilgamesh, the earliest known epic story.

Bernat Martorell, Saint George and the Dragon, 1434

Most ancient art is filled with fantastic imagery, with monsters, strange worlds, heroes, gods, and stories of creation. 

Martin Schongauer (1448-1491) The Griffin

Kowalski defines fantasy in terms of larger-than-life stories, such as folktales, myths, legends, and epic tales. That includes religious stories. As Joseph Campbell once said, “Mythology may, in a real sense, be defined as other people's religion."

Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Some political revolutions have expressed their core values in terms of fantasy.

Richard Doyle, The Fairy Queen Takes an Airy Drive, 1870

Kowalski delves into the work of Freud, Jung, and Campbell, who all recognized the universal power of the subconscious in art. 

Arthur Rackham, The Fish King and the Dog Fish; It's Head 
Was Patted Graciously, ca. 1905

This broad and inclusive history covers a range of narrative art forms, including film posters, comics, and book illustration.

The book is a catalog of an exhibition that was originally planned to open last summer at the Norman Rockwell Museum, but because of the pandemic, was delayed one year. The exhibition will now be on show from June 12 through October 31, 2021.

James Warhola, Magic Shop, 1985

The book covers fantasy art to the present day, with works by many living fantasy artists, some of whom created paintings especially for the exhibition.

Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration, 232 pages, with 180 illustrations, mostly in color. There are essays by Jesse Kowalski, Alice Carter, Stephanie Plunkett, Greg Manchess, Craig Chalquist, and Rusty Burke. 


The Infected said...

There is a fine line between fantasy and fact. One must take care that what he believes is fantastic may in the future prove to be reality.

Unknown said...

I swear that when I scrolled down to the James Warhola painting the Magic Shop, items in the painting moved!. Keep an eye on the fire hydrant especially.