Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Discuss: Boris Vallejo

Karen: I was talking with a friend about the upcoming John Carter film, and we segued into a discussion of the work of artist Boris Vallejo. If you are of a certain age -mid 40s to mid 50s I'd say - you're probably very aware of Boris Vallejo. The man was prolific, painting amazing book covers and posters, that seemed to be everywhere in the 70s and 80s. His topics were almost always fantasy, with monsters, dragons, heroes with bulging muscles, and above all, scantily clad women. Perhaps some of his most memorable work includes the covers for Burroughs' Tarzan novels when they were re-issued in the 70s. He also painted covers for magazines, including this issue of Monsters Unleashed from Marvel.

So -thoughts about the man and his art?


Anonymous said...

Savage Sword of Conan Nos. 4, 7 and 9...just wonderful!

david_b said...

Boris produced the most majestic works of art.., just fantastic use of color and depth, many of which my parents wouldn't let me hang up on my walls.

Hmmm, still wondering why..:)

Edo Bosnar said...

Can't say I'm much of a fan now, although as an early teen I had a greater appreciation for his work (hmmm, I wonder why that is?) I just think most of his art looks a little too polished and airbrushed. As far as Conan and Tarzan book covers are concerned, I always preferred Frazetta and Neal Adams respectively. And since you mentioned John Carter, for me the cover art by Michael Whelan on those late '70s paperback editions epitomize the way Burroughs' Barsoom is supposed to look.
Back to Vallejo, though, I recently saw some of his sketches and illustrations online (and quite stupidly, I neglected to bookmark the site) which are really well done - much nicer than his paintings.

Doug said...

Since we discussed name pronunciations around here, am I correct when I've said Va-lay-yo?


Inkstained Wretch said...

Let me second Edo.

As a hormonal teenage boy, I thought Vallejo rocked. As a adult, his stuff is not as impressive and kind of embarassing. His style just lacks any grit or realism. I mean, I know it is fantasy art, but he lays the fantasy on so thick what with all of his half- or completely-naked, hardbodied women, so perfect in every detail, that it crosses the line into soft-core porn and becomes off-putting.

Note, for example, how bright everything in Vallejo's drawings is - He left nothing at all to the imagination.

Compare that to Frazetta, who wo worked in the same milieu but whose fantasy world had grit, grime and shadows. His figures had just enough human imperfections that the fantasy really seemed to come to life.

humanbelly said...

I had a roommate in college (one semester-- not a good match) who was a HUGE Boris Vallejo fan, and was artistically much-inspired by him.

Am I remembering correctly that he and his wife both are/were largely their own models? Keeping their bodies in astonishingly perfect condition, and simply photographing themselves in the necessary poses for reference? (Sort of like how Alex Ross does w/ the interesting-looking people around him)

Sheesh, could they POSSIBLY make folks like us any more envious--??


Garett said...

I like his art, but not totally. Frazetta's art is the complete package. Boris has amazing talent, but his emphasis on bodies/bodybuilders and the lack of convincing backgrounds takes me out of his paintings. It's more bodybuilder portraits dressed up with fantasy ornaments. Which is ok as far as it goes...

I do like his book Mirage, sensual erotic art. His people still have appealing proportions at that point, and the images are inventive.

The problem with Boris is I don't believe much of his art, like I would Frazetta. Lack of true emotion, covered up with polish? It's frustrating, as he's settling for surface instead of depth of experience.

Edo Bosnar said...

Humanbelly, as far as I know, your information is correct, at least I know Vallejo's wife, Julie Bell (herself an artist) is indeed the model for many of Vallejo's images. Interesting thing is, I think the same was true of Frazetta and his wife, i.e., he used her as the model for many of his female figures, and - I'm almost sure of this - himself for the male figures (Frazetta, besides being a fantastic artist, was also a total Adonis: enviably handsome with a really athletic build).

Rip Jagger said...

Boris Vallejo's early work, the stuff more like his clear inspiration Frank Frazetta, is pretty strong. But as he developed, he lost that magic and his work sadly became static renderings of too-perfected forms. The bodies become ends in themselves and not transporters of ideas or beliefs. They're too realistic to be special. I also find the lighting on later Vallejo work to be harsh, lacking the misty wonder it once had.

Rip Off

Karen said...

Hmm, surprised by many of the negative feelings but that's art, it's all very subjective. I still enjoy looking at his stuff, although I don't have any prints or anything.

Doug, I believe it is pronounced 'Va-lay-ho' -I used to live near a town with the same name and that's the way it was pronounced.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I remember his Star Trek Covers. I know that he produces a calender each year with Julie Bell. Her work is Vellejo cloned. While I am not into the whole body builder life style; I can appreiciate the work. I loved a lot of his Marvel Covers for the black and white magazines. I remember "Tales of Zombie" number one. My grandmother told me to buy it because it was going to be valuble some day. I didn't like Zombies and told her no. I could have really used that money now, when I think I didn't get that book!

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I remember when he illustrated the cover of a book called "The Micronauts". It was totally unrealted to the Mego toy of the late seventies. He also did interior illustrations in pen and ink at the start of each chapter.It was some of his best work ever. I only wish his work was more in demand today. I'd love to see his work on more covers.

I even remember his Adam and Eve cover for Future Magazine back in 1978 or 79'. I didn't see how people were so offended by the cover. It was reasonably done with good taste. Unless you were a total prude, no one would have objected to the cover.

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