Thursday, August 26, 2010

Record Prices Spent for Pulp Fiction Art

(Above) Hugh Joseph Ward (American, 1909 - 1945). The Evil Flame, Spicy Mystery Stories pulp cover, August 1936. 28.5 x 19.5 inches; Oil on canvas; Sold for $143,400.00

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(Above) Margaret Brundage (American, 1900 - 1976). A Rival From the Grave, Weird Tales illustration, January 1936; 20 x 13.5 inches; Pastel on paper board. Sold for $37,344.00

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(Above) Robert Fuqua (American, 20th century). Revolt of the Robots, Fantastic Adventures pulp illustration. First Issue, May 1030; Sold for $27,485.00

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(Above) Frank R. Paul (American, 1884 - 1963). The Robot Aliens , Wonder Stories pulp cover, February 1935. Oil on canvas. Sold for $19,120.00.

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HERITAGE AUCTION GALLERIES, located in Dallas, Texas is one of the top auction houses in the United States. For illustration art, they are second to none. For years, in this category, Pin-up and Glamour Art has dominated the auction house scene. Until, surprisingly, these pulp fiction illustrations burst into the fray with some record prices. The high seller was a piece in the collection/estate of John McLaughlin. It was entitled “The Evil Flame, pulp cover. Spicy Mystery Stories (see top illustration).

According to the auction house, this particular illustration has an interesting history:

“This is not only the most important Ward pulp cover we’ve ever offered — it’s one of the absolute best pulp covers that exists, by any artist. Iconic is the adjective that best sums up the entire over-the-top approach that pulps are now celebrated for. As pulp art historian Robert Lesser so vividly recounted about the Ward approach in his book, Pulp Art, Gramercy Books, 1997, “One day in April 1942 Mayor la Guardia spied an unusual Spicy mystery on the newsstand and exploded in instant rage. He ruled on the spot: ‘No more Spicy pulps in this city.’

H. J. Ward was the cover artist and it was one of his most daring: sexual tension, violence in action, a beautiful woman, all painted with aggressive brushwork to create a cover that couldn't fail to catch the eye.”

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