We all know “the Great Masters” of days gone by. WE consider that what they did in art to be the benchmark of what art should be,and how it should be. But what about pulp cover artists?
Ha,where did you think i was going with this topic?
Pulp fiction cover artists were classically trained artists,who were a victim of the times.The time being …the Great Depression.Writers of the time too were affected,being paid one cent per word they wrote,that’s a different subject though. The artists of the day were in a tough spot,almost all those those creators DID NOT want to do “the pulps”. Back then it was considered scraping the bottom of the barrel.As an artist you really did not want any of your fellow artists or really ,anyone for that fact,knowing you painted those raunchy pulp story covers,as they were basically known . Those illiterate pieces of rag.
Can you imagine? being trained as a classical artist”knowing how to produce” works of higher caliber than what the mags called for and yet….they needed to eat and survive. Tough times indeed. The covers those artists created and were published were racy and dicey to say the least.Now if you can find an original painting,,,they fetch big dollars.Only to collectors of that genre though.Even in the art market the work still has a stigma.To a certain extent i can understand,for who ,after all,would have a picture of some poor helpless trapped women about to be tortured,hanging on their wall,especially not in the family room.
I have read some of their biographies and for the most part? they REALLY did not want create what they were creating.The words that they expounded,you can almost feel their pain. Again can you imagine ,they are painting and loathing every brush stroke?
All the while ,they would hope for a chance to paint or the “slicks”,Cosmo,Better Homes,and so on.That was where they paid better and the artist got the chance to paint subjects of a more “wholesome” nature.
How much though did those artists really dislike their work? One artist,and i wish i could remember or find the article again,to know his name,,but well into the fifties he had a small piece of land with a barn.He was so distraught even then ,over the work he produced for the pulps that with his originals,took them into the barn and set fire to the whole building. LOL,now that’s holding a grudge!!!!!!
If anyone knows of whom i am writing,let me know,i would appreciated it.
Some made it to the slicks,some enjoyed what they were doing.They biographies are really worth reading.WHY?
Well,a person can get a really good perspective,on what it takes to be an artist sometimes.And if you are to prideful ,you just might starve.
We can always learn from history.