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Fantastic art

Parent categories: fantastic - visual arts

Related: art - art horror - capriccio - dream art - fantastic - fantastique - fantasy - grotesque - grotesque art - occult - visionary architecture

Especially prevalent in: mannerism - Romanticism - Surrealism - Symbolism

Key work of art: Satan's Treasures (1895) - Jean Delville Google gallery

Ukobach (1863) - J.A.S. Collin de Plancy. Dictionnaire Infernal. Paris : E. Plon, 1863. Page 672. via http://www.spamula.net/blog/archives/000194.html [Jan 2005]


Fantastic art is a loosely defined art genre. The first "fantastic" artist is generally believed to be Hieronymous Bosch. Other artists who have been labeled fantastic include Brueghel, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Matthias Grünewald, Hans Baldung Grien, Francisco de Goya, Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon, Max Klinger, Arnold Böcklin, William Blake, Gustave Doré, Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Salvador Dali.

Much like surrealism, fantastic art celebrates fantasy, imagination, dreamworlds, visions and otherworldliness.

In French, the genre is called le fantastique, in English it is sometimes referred to as visionary art or grotesque art. There is also a book which more or less treats the same subjects called The occult in art.

Fantastic art should not be confused with fantasy art, which is the domain of science-fiction and fantasy illustrators such as Boris Vallejo and others. [Sept 2005]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantastic_art

Fantasy Art and 'High Culture'

Interesting bit about fantasy art in relation to high culture. In which the author seems to maintain that there is a canonized version of fantasy art, which he does not name, but which I propose to call the fantastic art category.

Despite the technical skill of many of its practitioners, and despite (or arguably because of) its popularity, Fantasy art is not considered part of the 'canon', or 'fine art', in the sense that it is not hung in galleries, subsidised by governments, studied in art schools etc.

A few works which are 'canonical', particularly surrealist or pre-Raphaelite works, have many characteristics in common with fantasy art. For example The Castle in the Pyrenees by René Magritte, and The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, would almost certainly be accepted as fantasy art if they had been created recently by an artist who presented them as such. As with much fantasy art, the latter illustrates a scene from another work.

Nonetheless these works are accorded the status of fine art, and not considered to be connected to fantasy art. The situation could arguably be compared to the way in which certain critically-esteemed works may be treated as if they had no connection to non-'literary' genres, for example Nineteen Eighty-Four and science fiction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_art [Jun 2006]

The Waking dream: Fantasy and the surreal in graphic art, 1450-1900 (1975) - Edward-Lucie Smith

The Waking dream: Fantasy and the surreal in graphic art, 1450-1900 (1975) - Edward-Lucie Smith [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The tradition of the grotesque is particularly alive in prints. The fantastic is especially suited to the graphic medium, and it is possible to track almost its entire history in etchings, engravings and woodcuts. A fine book The Waking Dream: Fantasy and the Surreal in graphic Art 1450-1900 charts this progress through Holbein’s Dance of Death, the macabre prints of Urs Graf, the engravings of Callot, seventeenth-century alchemical prints, scientific, medical and anatomical illustration (I adapted the embryonic development diagrams of Ernst Haeckel for my drawing Species/Gender), emblems, the topsy-turvy world popular prints, Piranesi’s Prisons (which influence my architectural fantasies), Rowlandson, Gillray (whom I studied for guidance on how to draw caricature for drawings like my Seven Sins) , Goya, Fuseli and Blake, and into the nineteenth century with Grandville, Daumier, Meryon, Doré, Victor Hugo’s drawings and Redon. The tradition continues with the Symbolists and Richard Dadd, Ensor and Kubin, through to Surrealism, which recognised many of the artists of the grotesque and fantastic tradition as precursors. It is via Surrealism that much of this work has come to be appreciated. In the twentieth century this type of imagery has permeated culture, and is found everywhere, in diverse art forms including: the satiric installations of Kienholz, the drawings of A. Paul Weber, the cartoons of Robert Crumb, the animated films of Jan Svankmajer, photographs by Witkin, plays by Beckett, science fiction by Ballard, fantastic literature like Meyrink’s The Golem, Jean Ray’s Malpertuis, the art and writings of Bruno Schulz and Leonora Carrington, films by Lynch, Cronenberg and Gilliam; all are part of a spreading network of connections, the branching tentacles of the grotesque. -- Paul Rumsey via http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/rumsey/artist.htm [Dec 2005]

True, near and false visionary artists

from a manifesto of visionary art [visionaryrevue.com]

Bosch Van Eyck
Schongauer Van der Weyden
Grünewald Van der Goes
Altdörfer Memling Van Leyden
H. Baldung Grien Dürer Cranach
Bruegel J. Gossart F. Clouet
Signorelli P. d. Francesca Fra F. Lippi
Da Vinci Botticelli Raphael
Michelangelo Cellini Tintoretto
Arcimboldo Bronzino Caravaggio
Master of theTarot de Marseille
Master of Rosarium Philosophorum
Master of the Splendor Solis series
Goya Rembrandt Rubens
John Martin Vermeer Fantin-Latour
Blake El Greco
C.D Friedrich C.G. Carus Turner
Rossetti David Ingres
Burne-Jones Bouguereau Poussin
Gustave Moreau Théodore Géricault Eugène Delacroix
Gustave Doré Rodin Courbet
Redon Vincent van Gogh Bonnard
Delville Gauguin Vuillard
Khnopff Monet Rouault
Klinger James Ensor Seurat
Klimt Munch Renoir
Dali Picasso Chagall

*Artists who, despite an excellency of technique, have failed to manifest unique visionary qualities when confronted by a subject that requires them.

-- http://visionaryrevue.com/webtext/longman1.html [Jun 2005]

[...] Meanwhile, some Visionaries eluded the currents and fashions of painting in their own times, giving rise to such anachronistic 'Adam figures' as Goya - his solipsistic murals painted onto the walls of 'the house of the deaf man'; the unending vistas and landscapes of John Martin; Böcklin's Isle of the Dead; Fuseli's theatrical compositions; the light-infused etchings of Gustave Doré and - towering above them all - William Blake with his watercolours or etchings of the Ancient of Days, the Book of Job, the Last Judgement, and more - all accomplished with little or no recognition.
Under the broader heading of Mannerist art, many Visionaries after the Renaissance may be numbered, though their names are little known today: Bartholomäus Spranger, Wendel Dieterlin, Jacques Callot, Antoine Caron, Monsú Desiderio, and Giovanni Battista Piranesi among others.

In the last two hundred years, there emerged the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England, and the Symbolist and Decadent Movements of France and Belgium. From the former, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones; from the latter, Fernand Khnoff, Felicien Rops, Carlos Schwabe, and the still-unrecognized masterpieces of Jean Delville. Our art has also been enriched by the later Symbolists - Odilon Redon, Frantisek Kupka (his early works), Alfred Kubin, Giovanni Segantini, and Max Klinger. These were followed close behind by the Secessionist visionaries - Gustav Klimt, Franz Von Stuck, Viteslaw Masek, and Jan Toorop. But, singular amongst all of these stands the timeless, transcendent and visionary art of Gustave Moreau.

A more recent lineage can be traced with greater precision. Surrealism must undoubtedly be identified as a direct influence upon Visionary art, but two strains within this movement must be separated and identified. The one, Automatist Surrealism, tended more toward form and abstraction - Miro, Arp, Tanguy, and Matta, for example. These inspired movements towards Abstract Expressionism and Action painting in America. Of these, Visionary art has less in common. The other, Figurative Surrealism, tended more toward the accurate, plastic representation of dreams and their imagery in paint. Here, Picasso, Ernst, Magritte, Delvaux, Bellmer, Fini, and particularly Dali must be recognized as the modern forefathers of contemporary Visionary art.

In Vienna, after the second World War, it was their misinterpretation of Surrealism and led a group of academy painters to eventually create the movement now recognized as Fantastic Realism. Hausner and Hutter, Lehmden and Brauer, and particularly Ernst Fuchs sought to revive old master's techniques of painting, combine it with Impressionist color theories, and dedicate this new finesse and precision to fantastic subjects. As many of these painters are still alive today, they have become recognized as 'first generation' Visionaries.
Included among this generation of painters, but working more independently, are also Kurt Regschek, Ernst Steiner, Werner Tübke, Peter Proksch, Le Marechal, Paul Verlinde, Jean-Pierre Alaux, and Wolfgang Grasse. Special mention must be given to the Netherlandish painter Johfra, who brought his esoteric studies to rich fruition in such canvases as the Zodiac Series and his triptych of the Unio Mystica.
Under the spiritual guidance of Fuchs, a second generation emerged in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, practising (what Max Doerner called) the Mischtechnik, as taught to them by Fuchs. Now, a direct link could be traced from Fuchs to Mati Klarwein, De Es Schwertberger, and Robert Venosa. Other students of Fuchs, meanwhile, organized movements and became teachers of the technique: Brigid Marlin (member of Inscape and founder of The Society of Art of the Imagination), Philip Rubinov-Jacobson (member of the New York Visionaries and organizer of the Old Masters / New Visions seminars), as well as Fuchs' own son, Michael Fuchs.

Of the same generation, but working more independently is Alex Grey, gradually constructing his series of Sacred Mirrors in light of transpersonal philosophy. And at the same time, in Switzerland, H. R. Giger brought the technique of airbrushing to new heights through his darkened visions of aliens, bio-mechaniods, and the occult. Unexpectedly, the magazine Omni introduced many European Visionaries - Fuchs, Hausner, Giger, De Es, Venosa, et al - to a broader American audience by including their works among its pages.

Contemporary with this development was the rediscovery of l'Art Brut, 'naïf' or outsider art - untrained artists, some mediums, others bordering on the edge of insanity - who developed styles and vocabularies of imagery amazingly similar to the more calculated works of Visionary artists. Now, the forgotten watercolors of Heinrich Nüssbaum, the fairy-filled landscapes of Richard Dadd, the simple crayon drawings of Minnie Evans, and such architectural achievements as the Palais Ideal of le facteur Cheval had to be added to the catalogue of Visionary art. Many of these works have been documented lately through the thirty or more issues of Raw Vision magazine.
In a similar vein, the popular art form of the American 'comic book' produced many unexpected visionaries, some more heroic - Frank Frazetta, Micheal Kaluta, Barry Windsor-Smith; and some more macabre - Berni Wrightson, Clive Barker. Parallel to this were the Underground comix of California, with their later expression in Juxtapoz magazine. In Europe, particularly in France, comics developed into the finer graphic illustrations of les Bandes Dessinées, with Moebius, Druillet, and others

Already, though, the borders defining the genre were becoming hazy. Do we consider American Sword and Sorcery, Sci-Fi, and Fairy art to be visionary? And what of New Age art, with its interest in dolphin consciousness, alien abduction, crystal channeling etc? Each must make his own decision here (though the author of the present manifesto says - adamantly - no).

The number of exhibitions are mounting. Among them: du Fantastique au Visionnaire (Venice 1994, Maurizio Albarelli), Der Faden der Ariadne (Mussbach 1998 Otfried Culmann), 100 Sacred Visions (Payerbach 2000, Rubinov-Jacobson), Art of the Imagination (London 2000, Brigid Marlin), Fantastic Art (Australia 2001, Damian Micheals), Parfum de femme(Paris 2002, Claude Cussac). Meanwhile, the Centre international de l'Art fantastique organizes on-going and permanent exhibitions in the Chateau de Gruyères. TheSociété des Arts Fantastique, de l'Imaginaire et du Reve has already organized a number of exhibitions near Paris. And, in 1996 there was the founding of the Zentrum der Phantastischen Künste (www.labyrinthe.com) in Germany.

Through the publications of Galerie Morpheus (James Cowan), the founding of Art Visionary magazine (Damian Micheals), and the creation of The Fantastic Art Centre on the web (Christian de Boeck), more and more Visionary Artists have come together, detecting strange, unaccountable, but undeniable harmonies in each other's works. A monastary of sorts is being built in the desert. Invisible tribes of wanderers are banding together, coming to shelter, and forming once more the Masonic Order of Visionaries. -- http://visionaryrevue.com/webtext/longman1.html [Jun 2005]

See also: fantastic - fantasy - fantastique - occult - grotesque - grotesque art - art

Les peintres du fantastique (1996) - André Barret

Les peintres du fantastique (1996) - André Barret [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

L'ouvrage présente le fantastique en six chapitres chronologiques. Le titre de chacun cerne le caractère propre à chaque période: Dieu et les démons; éclats et ombres de la Renaissance; l'âge classique et les harmonies de la raison; le tumulte des fastes baroques; le tourment romantique (passions et rêves); les visages changeants du 20e siècle (stridences, névroses et dérisions). --Amazon.fr

The Occult in Art (1990) - Owen S. Rackleff

The Occult in Art (1990) - Owen S. Rackleff [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Narrowly, a visionary is one who experiences a supernatural vision or apparition.

By extension, visionary came to mean also a person with a clear, distinctive and specific (in some details) vision of the future, usually connected with advances in technology or political arrangements. Examples would be Buckminster Fuller in architecture, and some of the pioneers of personal computing. A visionary may function as a secular prophet, emphasising communication and a figurehead role, rather than implementation.

Visionary art is defined as a category of primitive art (i.e. art of those not formally trained). Artists may produce art categorised as 'visionary' for its luminous content, without being primitives in any sense (e.g. Samuel Palmer). An artist celebrated for his visionary, religious take on ordinary life is Stanley Spencer. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visionary [Jun 2005]

Edward Burne-Jones (1833 - 1898)

Pan and Psyche (1872/74) - Edward Burne-Jones

Het fantastische in de kunst: compendium (1989) / gecompileerd door Alexandra Gabrielli, geïllustreerd door Onno Docters van Leeuwen

Francis Danby (1793 - 1861)

The Deluge (1840) - Francis Danby

Michael Pacher (1430–1498)

Altar piece at Brixen, South Tirol - Michael Pacher (1430-1498)

Altar piece at Brixen (detail), South Tirol - Michael Pacher (1430-1498)

Featured in Les peintres du fantastique (1996) - André Barret [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Michael Pacher (fl. 1462-1498, d. 1498) was an Austrian Tyrolean painter and sculptor active during the last quarter of the 15th century. His best-known work is the Saint Wolfgang Altarpiece which contains scenes from the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. His influence is primarily North Italian, and his work shares characteristics with that of painters such as Andrea Mantegna; however, German influences are also evident in his work, especially in his wood sculpture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Pacher [Jan 2006]

The Battle of Alexander (1529) - Albrecht Altdorfer

The Battle of Alexander (1529) - Albrecht Altdorfer

Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480 near Regensburg – February 12, 1538 in Regensburg) was a painter, the leader of the Danubian School in southern Germany, and a contemporary of Albrecht Dürer.

He was a landscape painter of religious and mythological representations; most famously also for painting landscapes for their beauty and not as illustrating any story or parable, perhaps the first "pure" landscape painter.

His "Battle of Arbela" adorns the Münich Picture Gallery.

See also: Early Renaissance painting --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albrecht Altdorfer [Sept 2005]

See also: 1400s - fantastic art - Middle Ages - Renaissance - German art

Great Day of His Wrath (1851-53) - John Martin

Great Day of His Wrath (1851-53) - John Martin
Image sourced here.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Martin_(painter)

See also: fantastic - art - fantastic art - 1850s

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