Jim Flora; edited by Irwin Chusid & Barbara Economon
11" x 10"
design by Laura Lindgren
Since the 2004 publication of The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora, the once-forgotten illustrator has gained recognition as one of the foremost pioneers of a raucous, cartoonish style of commercial art that defines the Mid-Century aesthetic. Two follow-up volumes, The Curiously Sinister Art... (2007) and The Sweetly Diabolic Art... (2009), captured Flora's largely unseen fine art works, spotlighting a variety of themes such as architecture, cats and dogs, science, cars, trains — and the occasional swerve toward gratuitous violence.
But one of Flora's sustaining loves was music. His 1940s Columbia and 1950s RCA Victor record covers, in which legendary musicians were routinely afflicted with mutant skin tints and bonus limbs, are considered classics of outlandish post-Cubist caricature. During this period Flora also produced an enormous amount of promotional ephemera, including new release monthlies, trade booklets, ads, and point-of-sale novelties.
The now out-of-print Mischievous Art featured Flora’s known album covers. (No complete discography existed.) Since that book’s publication, more covers have been found, as well as rough drafts and unused designs. So Flora co-archivists/authors Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon have compiled a complete collection of Flora covers (including recent discoveries) and unpublished sketches in one volume, augmented by music images not included in previous volumes. The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora is the definitive anthology of the maestro's visual compositions, reflecting jazz, classical, and Latin music.
Regarding his jam-packed canvases Flora once said he "couldn't stand a static space." There’s nothing static about the images in The High Fidelity Art: they wail, dance, bounce, and swing from the chandeliers. Flora had a knack for grooving with a paintbrush, making art to which you can tap your toes and snap your fingers.
"Picasso, Matisse, Steinberg, my friend Charles — they all stole from Jim Flora, who was both ahead of his time and before his time." – William Wegman
"Flora's like a mad Richard Scarry — the deeper you look, the more you find little stories and characters that crisscross and bump into each other in perfect harmonious chaos. I never want to leave the busy, busy world of Jim Flora!" – Craig McCracken, creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
"Jim Flora's artwork is ultraviolet radiation in tempera and ink — it crackles with such energy, it practically sizzles ozone....This anthology celebrates a visionary whose work is steeped in vari-hued paradox...Yet, despite the raucous energy projected in these hyperactive mosaics, a typical Flora freak circus often projects harmony and balance — an ordered chaos." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
"For this generation of artists and illustrators, Jim Flora is sort of an unknown creative granddaddy. Flora's designs are magically simple distillations of Cubism, Surrealism and cartoon madness, with playful figures and instruments floating in planes of color.” – The New York Times