Friday, 8 February 2013

Jim Flora - part 1

Biography from the University of Connecticut:

"James (Jim) Flora (1914 – 1998), was born in 1914 in Bellefontaine, Ohio, the son of James Bernard (a barber) and Laura (Royer) Flora. He attended Urbana University (1931-1933), the Art Academy of Cincinnati (1934-1939), and Atelier 17 (two years). He co-founded The Little Man Press, a series of letterpress publications, with author Robert Lowry (1919-1994), and provided illustrations and designs for Little Man publications (1939-1942). After graduating from the Art Academy, he began freelancing in Cincinnati. His clients included Procter and Gamble and the Union Central Life Insurance Co. 

Flora was hired by the art department of Columbia Records in 1942, and established a reputation for his eccentric and amusing style of caricature, which appeared in Columbia's trade literature and ads. He became the label's art director in 1943, and was later promoted to advertising manager, and then sales promotion manager. He began designing (without credit) album covers for Columbia around 1945. Around 1947 he began a series of idiosyncratically stylized, cartoonish covers (usually signed), which are today considered some of the more dazzling exemplars of the early golden age of album cover design and dozens were reproduced in a book by Irwin Chusid, entitled The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora (Fantagraphics Books, 2004).



Flora left Columbia Records in 1950 and moved with his family to Mexico. They lived in the town of Taxco, which provided the inspiration and setting for Flora's first published children's book, The Fabulous Firework Family (1955). After returning from Mexico in 1951, Flora lived in Rowayton, Connecticut, and resumed his career as a freelance illustrator. He returned to album cover design in 1953, this time for RCA Victor, on a series of widely acclaimed assignments jobbed out by RCA art director, Robert M. Jones (who had succeeded Flora as Columbia Records' art director in 1945). 

The success of The Fabulous Firework Family convinced Flora to devote more time to authoring and illustrating children's books. He eventually wrote and drew 17, both for Harcourt Brace and for Atheneum, between 1955 and 1982. Several of these books were later adapted into animated features, for which Flora wrote the scripts. He was a boating enthusiast, and spent a good deal of his time during the 1980s and 1990s painting works with nautical themes, including large, intricate steamship canvases. Jim Flora died in 1998."
  

My thanks go to Irwin Chusid and the heirs of Jim Flora’s estate for allowing me to use these images. Here is Jim Flora’s official website containing lots more information and some merchandise: www.jimflora.com

This is part 1 of a 3-part post on the works of Jim Flora:

c1939-42 Untitled woodcut © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1940s Untitled tempera

1940s The Rape of the Stationmaster's Daughter tempera on paper © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1940s White Block Quadrupeds tempera on wood © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1943 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1943 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1943 Jazz Quintet tempera © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1944 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1945 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records  © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1945 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records  © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1945 illustration © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1947 "Louis Armstrong's hot 5" 78 album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1947 "Kid Ory and His Creole Jazz Band" 78 album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1947 "Gene Krupa and His Orchestra" 78 album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1947 Trio (second state) © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1947 "Bix and Tram" Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1948 Sidney Bechet album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1949 Burl Ives "The Wayfaring Stranger" record cover for Columbia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1949 Duke Ellington's "Liberian Suite" © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1950s Untitled tempera on board © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1950s 63rd Street tempera & watercolour on paper © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

c1950-51 Gunfight on the Roof tempera on illustration board © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1951 Railroad Town woodcut relief print © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com


1952 Seasonal banners from pharmaceutical publication 'What's New'  © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1952 Fortune magazine cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1952 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1952 Seasonal banners from pharmaceutical publication 'What's New' © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 Coda cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 Columbia Records Calendar - Benny Goodman © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 "A Song For December" music sheet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 Columbia Records Calendar - Roy Acuff © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 Columbia Records Calendar  © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953 Illustration for Coda booklet, Colombia Records © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1953-54 "The Incredible Flutist/Les Patineurs" EP cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 "An Evening At the Embers" Alex Kallao Trio with Milt Hinton and Don Lamond album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 "Inside Sauter-Finegan" Eddie Sauter and Bill Finegan album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 "For Boppers Only" 7" LP © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 "Ravel - Valses Nobles et Sentimentales"album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 "The Panic Is On" Nick Travis Quintet album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 “Redskin Romp” by Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra. album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Manhatten hand-coloured woodcut relief print © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Morton Downey sings Songs You Love album cover © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1954 Primer for Prophets series  alphabet booklet © The Heirs of James Flora, courtesy JimFlora.com

1 comment:

  1. How fun. I so enjoyed his illustrations! Thanks!

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