Vintage record buffs have long been bedazzled by the bizarre, cartoonish album covers tagged with the signature "Flora." In the 1940s and '50s, James (Jim) Flora concocted dozens of diabolic and hallucinatory cover illustrations, many for Columbia and RCA Victor jazz artists. His designs pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins, who fingered cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns amid hyperactive peripheries splashed with droplets seemingly shot from a confetti cannon. Geometric doo-dads floated willy-nilly like a kindergarten toy room gone anti-gravitational. Yet Flora's wondrous, childlike exuberance was subverted by a sinister tinge of the grotesque. He wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring up flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives. As Flora confessed in a 1998 interview, "I got away with murder, didn't I?"
This is the first collection of the marvelous, mischievous album cover art of Jim Flora (1914-1998), collecting most of his known covers. The book also includes rarely seen illustrations and covers from Columbia's "Coda" trade journal, and some of Flora's commercial magazine work of the period.
The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora also presents a terrific surprise — the first-ever reprinting of Flora's fabled Little Man Press illustrations (1939-1942). LMP was a hand-press publishing imprint started by literary nutjob Robert Lowry, who recruited Flora as illustrator and designer. Their Cincinnati-based LMP editions were printed at home in small runs of 125 to 400 copies. These books served as artistic rites of exorcism for the budding illustrator. Flora's images veered from childish whimsy to disturbing freakishness, often from one page to the next.
"The diabolical album cover art of the late, great Jim Flora ranged from Benny Goodman to The Incredible Flutist. His work finally gets the book it deserves." – Mojo
"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
"One might say this stuff is like Picasso meets Hanna Barbera, or Paul Klee meets Dr. Seuss... No Juxtapoz aficionados should be without this book." – Juxtapoz
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