Monday, August 22, 2005

Virgil Finlay & time de-compression!

Virgil Finlay was the DEAN of fantasy & science fiction illustrators. His work was praised H. P. Lovecraft in the 1930's when his work first appeared in WEIRD TALES.

Most of these come from the early to mid-1960's, but as you can see, he's still got it! When i first saw his stuff as a callow youth, it had a tremendous effect on me...the detail and workmanship just blew my tiny mind away, and i would sit for hours looking at anything of his i could get a hold of.

For a while, he worked illustrating fiction for the Hearst chain, under the sponsorship of A. Merritt, until an especially horrific illustration prompted Hearst himself to call Merritt and say "Fire Finlay!"

The thing that always draws me to his stuff is the same phenomena found when viewing an illustrated manuscript, a painting by Salvador Dali or even Baroque & Rococco architecture. The immense amount of time, compressed by the artisan seems to unfold in your head as you view and consider the detail-work (and the time spent to achieve this effect). It's almost like the time de-compresses inside your brain (if you will). Yes, it's an uneasy mix of art theory and quantum mechanics here at datajunkie central!

If anything, his illustrations added a much needed touch of class for some fiction that often seemed like it was written in less time than Finlay took to render the accompanying illustration. Still, his name and work lives on, many years after his passing, while a lot of the writers whose work he illustrated have all but vanished into the pages of history.......funny that.....


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