Saturday, May 21, 2011

JEFFREY CATHERINE JONES (1944-2011)


Jeffrey Catherine Jones struggled with battles that other painters never had to face.  His fragile nervous system supported his great talent the way-- in the words of Bob Dylan-- a mattress balances on a bottle of wine.


As a boy, I loved the beauty and elegance of Jones' work but I didn't understand the true scope of his achievement. It was only after I made contact with him later in life that I began to appreciate the demands that his personal chemistry placed on his courage.



In what should have been his most productive years, Jones was stalked by the Great Sadness.  His goals became more complex:
The goal was to somehow survive until morning while working my way ever upwards toward the coming morning light and the safety of the surface. I moved steadily, avoiding as much as possible, the swaying, reaching dead and the slabs of torn bologna spinning through the air.

Jones responded to his challenges with great valor.  In his life, he created some glorious work at great personal cost and left a wonderful legacy for the rest of us.

109 Comments:

Blogger jeroenmetveelpoen said...

Jeffrey Jones is a woman

5/21/2011 8:24 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

jeroenmetveelpoen-- I think Jeffrey defied easy categorization, but the most sensitive treatment I have read on this issue came from the wise Arnie Fenner:

"I never knew how to properly refer to Jeff after the last hormone treatments (which he had first experimented with back in the '70s with Bodé) and the adoption of the "Catherine" name. Jeff never had a sex-change operation (and said he had no intentions of having one) and never legally changed his name, so I was flummoxed as to what to call him in e-mails or conversation or when writing about him...so I directly asked him years ago around the time that we were working on the second of two books we did with him. He told me to call him "Jeff" or "Jeffrey" and since the law considered him a man, it was perfectly fine with him if I did, too. So I have always said "him" and "he" while others might say "her" and "she." Mike Kaluta, his oldest friend, also refers to Jeffrey as "he" and I would challenge anyone who says that Mike didn't respect (and love) Jeff.

We had asked Jeff how he wanted his nameplate to read on his Spectrum Grand Master Award and it says, per his instructions, "Jeffrey Jones".

So...there's no disrespect shown or intended."

5/21/2011 8:52 AM  
Blogger jeroenmetveelpoen said...

alright cool I didnt know that. Always cool to get insights like that thanks

5/21/2011 9:08 AM  
Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

A sad day indeed , Jone's work will always occupy a special place for me and my development as an artist. Wonderful work.

5/21/2011 9:14 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Dominic Bugatto-- I agree. And when you look at the details of his painting I posted, Jones' work seemed so self-assured and tranquil. His touch in rendering those flowers and leaves was deft and perfect; his design was so confident. You might think this painting was created in a state of grace, floating aloft from the troubles of this world.

5/21/2011 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, thank you so much for publishing that clarification. I knew a trans-gender person once and hated people giggling behind her back. I got to know her and - what a surprise - she was a human being who made me laugh and hurt when I heard she'd been hurt. I can't imagine what Jeff went through before adding Catherine to his name let alone after but I always appreciated the fact he was so honest and sharing on his website.

RIP Jeff, you've left me a mystery to ponder - and I shall - I still can't work out why I like your art, but I do!

Thanks again David

Norman

5/21/2011 2:08 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I've been feeling really despondent about Jones' death... remembering the few great conversations we had, recalling the stories I've heard, joyful and sad about him, and especially looking at the art again and reading what he wrote and said in print about his work and art in general. Reading about all the other artists who were touched by his work and words has also been affecting.

I've heard it said that fine culture is there for us when all else fails. Given the awful nihilism of the last so many decades, it would appear that there is a vast movement to pull the rug out from under our souls entirely. The great undoing of this inherited psychological safety net was/is ultimately inhumane and I can find nothing more heroic to do in the arts than to be against nihilism.

Jeff Jones was a founding father of the club to "undo the undoing" (in Dan Adel's phrase).

He was steeped in what had come before. No one knew more about the Aesthetics that had been abandoned and defaced by the dada-modernist-hack commercial cultural roil than Jeff. The Studio existed in a kind of time warp, something transported (into the era of Watergate, Vietnam and Malaise) from a brief earlier aesthetic moment (that may or may not have occurred somewhere between 1890 and 1912.)

In a sense, the culture that Jeff Jones was struggling to resurrect is what what kept his own life alive and gave it meaning. All else had failed. And there, as a lucky failsafe, was the era of 1900 still alive and well, its symbols, feelings and thoughts still preserved in libraries and museums and in the hearts of aficiandos, to be rediscovered. A forgotton generation that lived a culture of pure aesthetics, who knew the value of culture as psychological armor. And imaginative creation as a kind of richly nutritious synthetic blood for those who bleed the real stuff too much and too easily.

I can't help but get angry as I think about all those "teachers" staffing all those art classes in all those universities, demanding nihilism from their students, disparaging beauty. Imagine if they had had their way? What a cold pile of crap the arts would be.

As it is, these mandarins of unhappiness have cursed the landscape in more ways than one. Could any aesthete of 1900 have imagined an era where the creation of beauty was an act of defiance.

Jeff was the gentlest rebel in this very important insurrection, ongoing. May he rest in beautiful peace.

5/21/2011 2:17 PM  
Anonymous raphael said...

i have been trying to come up with something meaningful to say regarding jeff jones' death since i first heard of it. without much success, though.

the place his work and he/she (if there ever was anyone to show that what we signify by either of these pronouns refers not to a set of chromosomes primarily but to a completely separate absoluteness of existence, it probably was jeff jones. at times, we are trying to unravel the mighty infinite using a language which was designed to tell one another where the fresh fruit was, or so terry pratchett says) held for me wasnt one id repeatedly go to for studying or marvelling at. i not so much revisited his work as i did re-encounter it when i often, but not frequently, became aware that -damn - there is jeff jones, too, and off id be, poring over his images, being thunderstruck every time anew.

jeff jones, for me, never was that thunderous, ever-present front-line figure like frank frazetta. jeff jones' art was more of a quiet treasure some paces off, the memory of which never held up with the somewhat otherworldly sensation of seeing it.

5/21/2011 2:18 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Norman-- "honest and sharing" certainly describe Jeff well. He was so sincere and genuine, and so helpful to others, it made him more vulnerable but he did not seem to question the price.

Kev Ferrara-- Well said. To the extent that a well designed image or a well balanced poem is a little bit of glue against entropy, Jeffrey certainly contributed more than his share in the battle to "undo the undoing." At the same time, when it comes to your larger societal point, I would guess that some of what Jeff accomplished came from his painful awareness of the existential void. If he had been raised in the reassuring cocoon of an earlier era, where the church or the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture encircled him with a closed universe, do you think he would have come up with those wildly innovative Idyll and I'm Age stories which took an anarchistic approach to language and meaning? Could he have written free verse poetry, or taken such liberties with sexual subject matter? I agree with you that Jeff did not embrace nihilism, but I'm not sure he would deny its truths either; I can't help but think that nihilism, perched like a buzzard on his shoulder, drove him to some of his greatest work.

5/21/2011 3:01 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I think nihilism is perched on one shoulder of every great artist, David, but hope must be perched on the other. That both are so close at hand is surely one of the reasons that the sensitive artist vibrates against the paper. Same as it ever was.

Hope and beauty go hand and hand, wouldn't you say? But a nihilist doesn't believe in the bird on the other shoulder and therefore reflects the ugliness of life, merely. This was not Jones' way at all.

Jones' philosophy was transcendentalist, I would say. He was not one that sought to destroy meaning reflexively, nor one in favor of the ugly facts devoid of signification, I don't think. He seemed to me, often, to be pointing out the futility of words, the game of words, or the stealthy passage of time we avoid noticing, and the endless echoes of human behavior and form. These are classic tragic notions, conservative even. He didn't see human beings as perfectable, because he knew himself so well. He seemed, instead, to notice the fragility in everything. To symbolize such ideas about human experience is to declare them, tragic as they are, as meaningful.

When Jeff was in a nihilist state of mind, my sense is that he left a blank. When he spoke, he spoke quietly, but wisely. And to speak wisdom, it seems to me, is always a moral act. And anyone who bothers teaching morality must, I think, presuppose, (or at least seriously engage in the idea), that life is meaningful.

5/21/2011 4:31 PM  
Anonymous raphael said...

And anyone who bothers teaching morality must, I think, presuppose, (or at least seriously engage in the idea), that life is meaningful.

...or at least that it can be made so.

5/21/2011 8:49 PM  
Blogger Bira said...

It's very sad know about Jeffrey's death.
Michael Kaluta have told me about her health situation.
We were facebook friends.
I love her illustrations...

5/22/2011 3:45 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Raphael wrote, "jeff jones, for me, never was that thunderous, ever-present front-line figure like frank frazetta. jeff jones' art was more of a quiet treasure some paces off..."

I agree that Frazetta was so ubiquitous, you couldn't avoid seeing him on any horizon where you happened to look. I also agree that you could mentally compartmentalize Jones, walk away for months, and come back to be pleasantly reminded of his great quality. Jones, like everybody else, took a lot from Frazetta when Jones was growing. But as Jones matured, I think he surpassed Frazetta in the areas where Jones chose to focus. Can anyone seriously envision Frazetta writing something like Idyll or I'm Age? As a lyric poet, Jones was far smarter (and more thoughtful) than Frazetta.

Kev Ferrara-- I agree that for much of his career Jeffrey was able to keep hope perched on his other shoulder, and I agree much of his work was life affirming. It may be a little different from straightforward nihilism, but the point I was trying to make was that an awareness of the terrors of life-- the possibility that the trap door could open up underneath you at any moment-- sometimes adds an important level of consciousness to an artist's work. It makes the artist more open minded to possibilities, it helps them view the order of things more anarchically. I think that was true of Jones.

When someone has fallen through that trap door, they are in a dark place where reason and enlightenment have no meaning. Rationality is of no avail. I've worked a fair amount with people with mental disabilities and for me that condition can make "nihilism" as a philosophical school of thought seem like a cheap adolescent affect by comparison. So perhaps nihilism wasn't the best term for me to use. In Faust, Goethe gave the devil the following speech: "I am a part of the part that at first was all, part of the darkness that gave birth to light, that supercilious light which now disputes with Mother Night her ancient rank and space, and yet cannot succeed; no matter how it struggles, it sticks to matter and can’t get free. Light flows from substance, makes it beautiful; solids can check its path, so I hope it won’t be long till light and the world’s stuff are destroyed together." Now, that's a man who knew something about darkness.

5/23/2011 11:48 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David Apatoff - No doubt Jones was a lyric poet in his strips and he could be in his art as well. Clearly Frazetta had no interest in that arena and never, that I can recall, used overt symbolism in his work except in a humorous vein i.e. the tree-man behind "Girl Bathing Poster No. 78 in Book 3, or the ubiquitous erectile mushrooms he was so fond of. No ivy growing up the girl's dress for him. I think Frazetta thought of that as either purple or, in Burne Hogarth's case, overdone as symbolism and underdone as art.

I completely agree that Jones had phenomenal powers of introspection, a hyper-consciousness that allowed him to, for instance, pierce the veil of language that is the wrapping paper of so many human foibles, with a surgeon's exactitude. I wouldn't call this anarchic. More clinical or unfliniching, I would say. I've never felt anarchy in his work. Emotional courage, yes. And sometimes, actually a lot of times, I feel coldness.

Jones' infinite headiness shaded over from artistic sensitivity and piercing intelligence through a biting wit and then it could descend into a maudlin self-preoccupation which I think was a source of unhealthiness. In a sense he couldn't stop picking at the scab until the whole thing was... well, nevermind. You get the idea.

Jones was a great artist in my estimation. "Nuff said.

5/23/2011 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insanity doesn't make you a better artist. That's a fairy tale. You don't know what it's like to be insane.

5/24/2011 1:12 PM  
Blogger StimmeDesHerzens said...

I like to drop in unexpectedly, and see what the current topic of interest is...today it is a sad post. hugs, Beth.
PS the firemen and the artists in love posts were awesome.

5/24/2011 1:54 PM  
Anonymous raphael said...

david: i absolutely agree. in fact, i didnt mean to place jones anywhere "below" frazetta at all. less ubiquitous is what he was, not a lesser artist by any stretch.

5/24/2011 2:47 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A beautiful memoriam by George Pratt.

5/24/2011 4:12 PM  
Blogger Eric Noble said...

He will be missed. I will have find more of his work. It looks absolutely beautiful!

5/24/2011 8:46 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous wrote, "You don't know what it's like to be insane."

Anonymous, other readers might disagree. But as for your admonition that insanity doesn't necessarily make for great art, I don't think there is one hard and fast rule. I don't romanticize mental disabilities; I am on the board of trustees of the Center for Mental Health Law in Washington which is dedicated to helping and protecting people with such disabilities; A few years ago I filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on the horrendous prison conditions for the disabled and, perhaps most relevantly, I recently lost someone very dear to me through mental illness. So I have no illusions about the dark side of mental disability. I have seen it up close and personal.

I tend to agree with Kev Ferrara that when Jeff Jones was in a depressed, nihilist state of mind, he left a blank. However, other artists with mental conditions have been quite fruitful. I don't think we can generalize.


StimmeDesHerzens--Thanks very much. Its always good to hear from you.

Kev Ferrara-- many thanks for the link to George Pratt's terrific memories of Jones. I recommend it to everyone. By the time I made contact with Jones he was long past that stage; our exchange had more to do with the debilitating effects of meds. But that must have been a glorious era to know Jones

5/25/2011 3:49 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

raphael-- I agree. Kev is probably correct that "Frazetta had no interest in that arena" but interest aside, I don't think Frazetta had the capacity for that kind of work. Frazetta was a magnificent animal with god given talent, but when you listened to him talk or read his interviews it soon became clear he simply didn't have the intellect, the philosophical depth or self-awareness that Jones did. That didn't make Jones a better artist, but it did make him very different from Frazetta, and from the legions of Frazetta clones.

The Jones painting I focused on in this post is a good example: Can you conceive of Frazetta inventing the iconic concept of a person wearing a gas mask amongst the flowers? Or appreciating the more complex sensuousness of a pregnant woman (naked from the waist down)? In a lifetime of painting gorgeous women, did Frazetta depart even once from the standard formula of a wasp waisted woman with huge breasts and butt? Would Frazetta ever write the words of one of his poems into a painting? Did Frazetta even know any poems? Jones' work bore the imprint of his intellect in a way that Frazetta's never did.

Eric Noble-- if you aren't familiar with Jones' body of work, you have a major treat in store for you. I think the quality of Jones' work has been more erratic over the years than the work of many of his peers. He has had some spectacular highs, but he has also missed by a mile. The thing about Jones' work is to dwell on the excellent stuff, but not linger too long over the misfires.

Bira-- many thanks.

5/26/2011 7:11 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I guess I am less impressed with literariness than you, David. Particularly as it is brought into art as overt symbolism.

There's a great quote from Roger Ebert about overt symbolism, in the 60s art houses, when the fandom for high cinema was at its peak: Every time an obvious bit of allegory was deployed on screen, the audience would shout out "Symbol!"

Point being, the intelligent, literary mind gives to art, but it also takes. It has the same relation to life, it seems to me. Generally, it isn't as clever as it thinks it is. It is no match for good instincts, that's for sure.

I notice you edited out the text that accompanies this piece, so I'll add it back "In her descent and disorganization she gives cause and certainty, but I have better things to do."

I was lucky to have had contact with Jones after he had become a pure painter, (when he had left such arty puzzles behind), but before his "last phase." In our few conversations, treasured by me, he quoted Frazetta several times.

5/26/2011 12:08 PM  
Anonymous raphael said...

but then, there are a few frazetta lines that show his interests in something other than playing baseball and painting either strong dudes, hot babes or both at the same time. i remember reading his remarks about the writing style of robert e. howard. he liked the directness and the energy. by all means, howard is no shakespeare, no hemingway or nowhere near the pantheon of high literature in general. but his writing is good at what it is. how influential frazettas conan has been is testament to what a perfect match frazetta and howard were. they both are up to eleven.

re allegory: im with kev in not being overly fond of allegories in general. but then, im pretty easy-going, as long as there is something before the allegory to look at. when a painting does not work on its most basic level, AND is crammed full with semiotic stand-ins for whatever profane thing the artist thought to be of import, then it gets on my nerves as well.
as long as there is a painting to look at, i can be amazingly blind to whatever allegory is packed with it. or maybe im just too thick for stuff like that ;) so whether there is allegory in some of jeff jones' paintings or not, thats not what (to me) makes them stand out.

however he did it, as much as frazettas paintings emanate raw physicality and extroversion, as much do jones paintings give off a much more introspective air. in some paintings, i suspect its in the way he chose his figures' gestures, in some others, i suspect it to be in color choice and shape handling - what i see when i look at a jeff jones painting usually is a piece of world, seen in a very dreamy-floaty, introspective, quiet and drawn back manner. like someone who is very attuned to, and an astute observer of sensousness.

as long as the image itself radiates this sensous quality, as opposed to someone trying to allude to the concept of sensousness via placed symbolics you have to decypher, we are not talking allegory. and as long as the painting works in that direct fashion, every bit of allegory (by its nature indirect) is relegated to the back tiers.

5/26/2011 3:00 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara-- I suppose I agree with you if "overt symbolism" refers to that kind of allegorical Christian art where a dove equals one thing and a lamb equals something else, or to pre-Raphaelite art where a cracked jug means lost virtue, and the artist consciously arrays symbols to be read like a book. But I don't think Jones did much "overtly" symbolic work that way (or if he did, it wasn't the work I liked and paid attention to).

Instead, I am saying that there are objects with rich connotations, either because of their inherent nature or because of their juxtaposition with other objects or because of the way they are presented visually. Objects can have no literal meaning and yet have higher significance. You don't need to conclude that a pregnant woman overtly "stands for" fertility or creativity or hope for the future or victimization or the forces of nature, but one thing remains clear: for Jones to introduce such a character into a genre otherwise filled with svelte barbarian girls and super heroines is what Thoreau would characterize as "a trout in the milk." The fact that Jones chose to put the trout there can cause us to reflect in a dozen different directions (many of which Jones never considered, I'm sure) or even just to think about the world in a more wide open way.

For me, Frazetta never put a trout in the milk. He never teased meaning out of the material world, or used visual language to surprise us into being thoughtful Instead, his great talent was to make that barbarian world convincing, to make us say, "yeah, that's exactly how a wizard would dress or how that monster would look."

As for the line of poetry you mention, which is an excerpt from a longer poem, I have walked past those words every day for 20 years and I still don't have the slightest clue what they mean (if they mean anything at all). I view them the same way I view hieroglyphs on Egyptian art: I may understand only a few occasional words, but I love the fact of the existence of a closed world that they imply.

Perhaps it wold have been smarter to include a picture of the total painting, including the words you cited, but my notion was just to offer intimate little glimpses of Jones, fragments of the person without attempting to capture the whole picture.

Our strongest agreement may be on the first principle: that the visual quality has to reside in the object, or all of this other stuff doesn't matter much.

5/26/2011 3:40 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David, a half nude pregnant woman wearing a gas mask on a blank background is an allegory. The additional text only further clarifies the unity of the piece (that it consists of overt symbolism.)

Just because one can't pinpoint the meaning of the allegory doesn't change things. And while I think this piece is dynamite (and I am glad it is in the hands of a true appreciator) it is piece akin with Jones' I'm Age, or an editorial cartoon, not the narrative image.

Btw, I am very surprised to hear you haven't deduced the meaning of the allegory/text. Is this another iteration of your "I must preserve the sacred mystery" personality quirk? :)

Also, I'm not sure in what sense you consider this picture a fantasy work, except in the sense that all editorials have fantastic surreality.

On the creeping jinny of this comment thread: Your antipathy towards Frazetta's intellect really makes me laugh. Forgive the reductive labeling here, but you seem so clearly the "tribal literary type" it astounds me (sociologically speaking). As I mentioned earlier, its a beautiful thing, and it isn't.

Forgive the meta comment, but the problem with the paradigm you have assumed is that you think consciousness of one's sensitivity to the nuance of textual symbols equals sensitivity to all purposive signals. (A million times no -- this is the whole source of decline of 20th century art -- the reason for the painted word thesis) And equally that someone who isn't articulating to your set point of verbal sophistication is somehow lacking in gray matter.

This is why you keep getting Frazetta wrong. He is articulating at a frequency, in a language, that you can't process through your verbal facility. And he isn't interested in explaining even that simple fact to you because he relished his role as storyteller-magician-genius. As Joseph Pennell said a hundred years ago, "Art is the art of hiding art." As Dean Cornwell said, "Art is a language complete and distinct from literature. Anything that can be said in words is not a subject for a painting."

That Frazetta has no interest whatsoever in being part of the cult of verbal articulation clearly bothers many of its members. I am far more worried about the assumption of righteousness that attends membership in the cult of verbal articulation than I am about the soundness of mind of those that don't care to apply for membership.

Lastly, although I keep hearing that Jones started out a Frazetta clone and then became his own man, I think this doesn't get us closer to the truth of the matter. As I see it, as Jones matured in his art he stopped trying to duplicate the surface of Frazetta's work, and instead, increasingly shared Frazetta's philosophy of art (Brandywine Romanticism) and thereby became more himself.

5/26/2011 5:44 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

raphael wrote, "what i see when i look at a jeff jones painting usually is a piece of world, seen in a very dreamy-floaty, introspective, quiet and drawn back manner."

I know what you mean. I think that this painting, as well as some of his other stronger pieces, also have a Japonisme / floating world flavor-- in one sense selective and restrained, but resulting in a confident design. The power of those flowers and leaves is in their quiet sensitivity. And it took a lot of guts for Jones to silhouette a figure against that stark white background. Frazetta did not have that restraint; better to fill the page with a thousand lines. His famous Canaveral drawings were fabulous, but there was none of Hokusai or Harunobu or Eizan in them. He erred on the side of overworking a drawing.

raphael also wrote: "there are a few frazetta lines that show his interests in something other than playing baseball and painting either strong dudes, hot babes or both at the same time."

I've read some of those other lines, and even managed to antagonize people by quoting some of them here. There were lines that displayed a fairly simple minded view of politics. There were lines about how he was so much stronger and better than his own sons. Some of his lines had to do with how successful he was compared to his old peers. Such lines don't make him a bad person, but they suggest that he rarely took to heart Socrates' admonition that the unexamined life is not worth living.

Frazetta didn't need to be a literary critic; he was a brilliant artist with a gift from the gods. (Mozart was apparently fatuous but had a direct pipeline to the heavens.) There are just times when I enjoy art that is also smart or self-conscious, and I think I am more likely to get that from Jones.

5/26/2011 7:52 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote, "Btw, I am very surprised to hear you haven't deduced the meaning of the allegory/text."

Criminy, you're not going to stop there, are you? I would be very interested in your take on the "unity" of the image and the text.

>>"Your antipathy towards Frazetta's intellect really makes me laugh. Forgive the reductive labeling here, but you seem so clearly the "tribal literary type" it astounds me (sociologically speaking). "

Well, I've championed the work of children, mentally disabled and non literate tribes here, so it can't all be my antipathy toward Frazetta's intellect. As I've said many times, and repeated to raphael a moment ago, I think Frazetta's work is often brilliant. Under those circumstances, he doesn't need to be brilliant. And he certainly doesn't need to explain himself; I have often cited with approval Matisse's view that artists should have their tongues cut out before they can start talking about their art.

>>"the problem with the paradigm you have assumed is that you think consciousness of one's sensitivity to the nuance of textual symbols equals sensitivity to all purposive signals. (A million times no -- this is the whole source of decline of 20th century art -- the reason for the painted word thesis)"

I would draw a bright line between the work of smart artists I have highlighted here-- such as Saul Steinberg, John Cuneo, and-- yes-- Jeffrey Jones on one hand, and the work of Duchamp on the other. If you asked Steinberg et al to explain a drawing, as likely as not, they wouldn't be able to. And if they came up with an explanation, it might very likely be different from or less than the meaning the world had assigned to their work. They think complex thoughts, they carry heavy burdens, but these artists would never claim "consciousness of one's sensitivity to the nuance of textual symbols."

>>"I am far more worried about the assumption of righteousness that attends membership in the cult of verbal articulation than I am about the soundness of mind of those that don't care to apply for membership."

Well, i can't blame you for finding righteousness distasteful. I like to think I find it distasteful too, but my distaste requires that I not take for granted my ability to detect it in myself. I believe in stepping back at regular intervals to assess what I have become. I'm guessing that Jones stepped back to assess himself at 60 second intervals and put himself into a downward spiral from which he couldn't recover. Frazetta clearly didn't have that problem.

I'm happy to get as non-verbal and non cerebral as you want about art. I suspect I'd be willing to wallow in places where you wouldn't be willing to go, because you apparently haven't come to peace with action painting, gestural painting, subliminal drawing, performance art, and paint brushes tied to donkey's tails. I could be good with any of the above.

5/26/2011 8:46 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David Apatoff, I was only speaking of how you are not perceiving Frazetta’s conscious intelligence because you are equating “smartness” with a particular brand of introspection as evidenced by its verbal articulation (or vice versa). This is due to what I percieve to be an emphasis in your psyche, a “sensitivity to the nuance of textual symbols” in contradistinction to an ability to cognize purely aesthetic statements. Non-verbal does not equal non-cerebral.

Regardless Frazetta has indeed said enormously insightful and well considered things about aesthetics in completely plain speech. (I couldn’t care less about some political soundbite he repeated, or some insensitive private comment he made that may be true.) From the advice that has passed down from Frazetta, from what I have read in print and heard privately, it is quite clear to me he spent a lifetime thinking about Brandywine aesthetics.

Which leads to your other point: I’ve read Frazetta putting down N.C. Wyeth, saying NC didn’t understand Pyle’s philosophy. I thought at the time that this was pure nonsense and Frazetta was clearly feeling a rivalry with NC. A few years later, he says he understands the comparison between Wyeth’s work and his own.

Did he misspeak the first time? Or did he reconsider? Or maybe he wasn’t quite sure. Maybe he was feeling insecure during the first interview? It doesn’t matter to me. He was human. Just because someone flies by the seat of their pants in conversation, does not mean they aren’t sensitive. The artwork reveals more about the man than is possible in any other way. And the artwork is hyper sensitive.

I’ve already said about 5 things on this comment page that I regret, and what of it? The more we talk, the more our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies become evident. I’m not going to type slower or talk slower, because I’m here to have fun. We’re only human and we can’t nuance ourselves to death in order to be perceived as sophisticated. Who wants to be other-directed to the point of distraction?

I'm guessing that Jones stepped back to assess himself at 60 second intervals and put himself into a downward spiral from which he couldn't recover. Frazetta clearly didn't have that problem.

Well put.

you apparently haven't come to peace with action painting, gestural painting, subliminal drawing, performance art, and paint brushes tied to donkey's tails. I could be good with any of the above.

Have I committed some sin by not conforming to the standard lines of thought regarding the above? I don’t think so. I am quite at peace with the fact that I don’t have the slightest interest in suspending my faculties of critical judgement in order to conform to the religion of never ending open mindedness. If you want Lady Gaga, she’s yours. Slap that “reactionary” sticker on my back, if you want. That won’t disturb my peace of mind one bit. I yam what I yam.

If you want we can have a quiet exchange about the meaning of this work/poem off line. I don’t think I want to do “poetry corner” in public. (Also, I should correct my earlier accidental implication: I can only give you my best guess on the meaning. Although I think it is sound.)

5/27/2011 1:14 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Looks like blogger ate another of my posts. Is it retrievable?

5/27/2011 10:30 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Didn't Frazetta say the Jeff Jones was the finest painter of our generation or something to that effect? Do you know where I might find that quote?

5/27/2011 11:01 PM  
Anonymous raphael said...

kev: thanks for the bit about "flying by the seat of the pants" - i think thats going to be my default answer to such matters from now on: just because someone flies by the seat of their pants doesnt make them any less airborne. ;)

david wrote:
Frazetta didn't need to be a literary critic; he was a brilliant artist with a gift from the gods. (Mozart was apparently fatuous but had a direct pipeline to the heavens.) There are just times when I enjoy art that is also smart or self-conscious, and I think I am more likely to get that from Jones.

id say thats a fair point.

now, i find myself between the chairs, as usual.
i agree with kev that textual/rational thought itself is a fine thing, but not all there is - especially in a visual medium where textual/rational/symbolic/linguistic things are not in the scope of what that medium itself can do, and thus rely on pre-shared decoding information or an artist explanation to do their work.
my gripe with that would be that its sloppy work with lac of respect for the medium, and kev seems to have gripes with the general overrating of verbalized/verbalizable(?) thought versus non-verbal thought. and you seem to be in the same boat when you say that you agree on that visual quality has to reside in the object, or the other stuff wont matter much.

but then, i dont see the introspective or self-conscious qualities i like about jones in verbal symbolism. he certainly did stuff along that vein. he did comics, and if he placed a poem on the canvas you posted pictures of, he probably intended that to be a companion to what he painted. but those companions dont strike me as the quintessential jones thing. they -to me- seem to be more of an afterthought, or a side dish.
that basic introspectiveness and self-consciousness is something i see expressed very much without the assistance of verbalized or symbolic matter.

5/28/2011 1:54 PM  
Blogger Robert Cook said...

I think I first saw Jones' work in Larry Ivie's early fan/pro-zine MONSTERS AND HEROES, where I also first saw Berni Wrightson's work. I thought Jones was interesting from the start, but I thought his work was uneven. It was what it was: the work of a young artist who had not yet developed his chops. In just a few years, though, he matured into a terrific painter and I loved his mature work.

Y'know, what's odd, given Jones' late-in-life decision to begin the transgendering process, is that one of my dorm pals in college in in Florida in 1976--and still my friend 35 years later, both of us in NYC--who was a fan of comics and science fiction and so on, thought then that Jeff Jones was a woman. When we would talk about him or his work, he would always refer to him as "her." At the time, as he was a new friend, I felt a tad awkward about correcting him, so I let it go until an opportune time when I found an article about Jones in some magazine or other. I passed it to my friend and said something like, "Well...what do you know? It turns out Jeff Jones is a man!" as if I were surprised, too.

I think it turned out my friend had seen a photo of Jeff Jones in a magazine and in the photo Jones had appeared distinctly feminine, with the long hair he had at the time, and this is how my friend came by his misunderstanding.

I guess my friend somehow had an unconscious and prescient understanding of the truth, after all.

5/28/2011 5:27 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

bill wrote, "Didn't Frazetta say the Jeff Jones was the finest painter of our generation or something to that effect? Do you know where I might find that quote?"

bill, it is easy to find that quote (I think it's even on Jones' website) but harder to authenticate. Assuming Frazetta said it, I don't put much weight on it. For many years people made a big deal about PaulMcCartney saying that the Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds, was his favorite album. It turns out that while McCartney was on tour in Japan, a radio announcer stuck a microphone in front of him and asked him to name his favorite album. At that particular moment it turned out to be Pet Sounds. But I gather there were many other moments when it wasn't.

Robert Cook wrote, "I thought Jones was interesting from the start, but I thought his work was uneven."

Robert, I think Jones' work continued to be uneven. I was often surprised that someone who did such jaw-droppingly brilliant work could also produce some awful work. Part of it may be because his drawing often relied upon the "happy accident," the splatter or the scribble which worked out well. Those accidents don't always turn up on demand. Part of it may have been his medications, particularly later in life. Part of it may have been that his greatest works relied more on inspiration than perspiration, (unlike many professionals who could methodically bang out new work on an assembly line.)

Jones is not the only great illustrator whose work was uneven. When Bob Peak was inspired, he could hit the ball out of the park. Yet there are times I look at his work and think he never really learned to draw well.

5/30/2011 3:08 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Paul McCartney's love of Pet Sounds and his assertion that God Only Knows, from that album, is the best song ever written have been repeated again and again by Sir Paul, last time, I believe, when he inducted Brian Wilson into the songwriters hall of fame. He even gave his daughter Pet Sounds as a gift, saying that her musical education in life was incomplete without it. He also added, "where has the progress been" in music since pet sounds and sgt peppers.

Next you'll say that Bob Dylan didn't really mean it when he said of Brian Wilson "they should put that ear in the Smithsonian" (Brian only had one working ear.)

Slighting Frazetta and Brian Wilson in the same thread... which of my artistic heroes will you bash next?

5/30/2011 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Wasnt Frazetta excited about Sanjulian, had a good opinion about Ken Kelly (maybe because he was Ellies nephew) and other illustrators that were obviously inspired by him? Ok, maybe not incompetent Hoffman or Bisley whoose art he considered too overblown, but still, artists he liked were all strongly under his spell and Jones was the best one of those. Jones was able to convey the frazetta style most truthfully (in terms of tactility and fluidity of the form, liveliness of the characters and dynamic compositions) but did Frazetta recognize expressive and poetical quality of Jones art? Would he still consider him "the finest painter of our generation" if Jones visual stylistic shell was completely unfrazetta?

Anyway, I wont pretend I know much about frazetta, but from what Ive read, he never showed interest towards art criticism, he never showed intellectual approach while explaining his opinions, he didnt even care much about art materials he used,... so, while I like some of his stuff, I consider him as one of those artists, that had a great talent and ability to transfer their emotions on canvas, but didnt care much about acquiring the tools that would grant them ability to judge something like who the finest painter of our generation is.

6/01/2011 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Adam Brill said...

"Anyway, I wont pretend I know much about frazetta, but from what Ive read, he never showed interest towards art criticism, he never showed intellectual approach while explaining his opinions, he didnt even care much about art materials he used,... so, while I like some of his stuff, I consider him as one of those artists, that had a great talent and ability to transfer their emotions on canvas, but didnt care much about acquiring the tools that would grant them ability to judge something like who the finest painter of our generation is."

An artist of considerable skills, and enormous influence & impact, who practiced his craft for over half a century isn't qualified to make judgments about painting because of his verbal skills and alleged indifference to his materials? You don't need qualifications to have opinions, as this blog (and others) so amply demonstrate, and it's a lot easier to pontificate than it is to create pictures that people want to look at.

Not trying to pick a fight, but that's an absurd statement.

6/02/2011 9:42 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

An artist of considerable skills, and enormous influence & impact, who practiced his craft for over half a century isn't qualified to make judgments

Even if some consider him the greatest artist in history, I think it's still entirely appropriate to at the very least ponder whether or not Frazetta was extremely biased, especially in light of the egotistical statements that he has made.

6/03/2011 11:09 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

1. Ellie Frazetta repeatedly put down Jeff Jones for being a Frazetta rip off.

2. Frazetta himself had no use for Frazetta rip-offs.

3. Frazetta seems to have said this quote long after Jones was a "Frazetta rip off", if he ever was, which means at a time when Jones was an artist in his own right.

4. Frazetta is a great artist. Frazetta knew what he was doing. His opinion about art is informed.

5. No man's opinion is final.

6/03/2011 12:07 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
Make as many bullet points as you wish. The single fact that Frazetta declared Jones "the greatest living painter" is more than enough for me to question Frazetta's perspective, judgment, and bias.

6/03/2011 1:16 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The single fact that Frazetta declared Jones "the greatest living painter" is more than enough for me to question Frazetta's perspective, judgment, and bias.

1 • The point of the bullets: Frazetta's bias would have been against Jones, rather than for him.

2 • Frazetta was clearly not talking about Jones' bad work.

3 • Frazetta may have been being nice when he said that.

I have, many times, stood in front of a particular portrait he did (of an artist friend's 1st wife) and thought the picture was so excellent it belonged in a museum. I'm sure, having steeped myself in this particular work, that I have become irredeemably biased in its favor.

6/03/2011 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between a formal declaration of something and an offhand casual comment which one probably didn't foresee people defining as a proclamation . Did Frazetta "declare" this or was it an something said offhand which has been overblown ?

I heard Frazetta speak highly of Jones work at the FF museum's grand opening , in particular of the piece on the JJ sketchbook cover .

I think Frazetta had the chops and right to an opinion , but if he were alive and questioned on this he might say something like "Jesus , I just said that in passing , gimme a break!"

Al McLuckie

6/03/2011 2:46 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

*she

6/03/2011 3:24 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

It's very simple; either you can accept Frazetta's statement "Jeffrey Jones is the greatest living painter" at face value and let Frazetta speak for himself, or you can reject the statement and speak for him.

6/03/2011 3:46 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Wow this is incredible. We have all said something at sometime without wishing it written in stone. The only conclusion we can make is that at some point Frazetta expressed his admiration for Jones' work. Whether he stopped the presses or simply whispered it to a friend doesn't really matter. And to question Frazetta's ability to give an informed opinion is ridiculous. I will give Frank Frazetta the benefit of many doubts just because of what he's accomplished. Opinion is bias and bias can ebb and flow.

I simply wanted to know if Frazetta actually made that statement. Are we really going to argue whether Frank Frazetta is worthy of expressing an opinion?

6/03/2011 5:17 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

etc, etc, here’s some more bullet points for you.

6/03/2011 6:20 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Whatevs, Kevs.

6/03/2011 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard --- just curious , did you read the first two posts of this thread ?

6/03/2011 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Adam Brill said: "...isn't qualified to make judgments about painting because of his verbal skills and alleged indifference to his materials? You don't need qualifications to have opinions..."
__________

I wasnt talking about the fact that Frank expressed an opinion, opinions are like ass holes, everyone has one, you indeed do not need qualifications to have an opinion. What we are talking about is a value of an opinion, because Frank wasnt just a random guy on a street, he accomplished something in his life, which means that opinions of such people can be sources of knowledge too. But to determine the value of an opinion we have to have a debate about it, right?, we have to recognize the authors knowledge about the subject he was talking about. Hopefully we agree so far, that there's nothing wrong with expressing doubts about opinions of other people (excluding the right to have an opinion would be wrong).

Next you seem to imply that "verbal skills" (I said "intellectual approach while explaining", I wasnt talking about linguistics) and "indifference to his materials" per se were the reasons why I expressed doubts. No, I listed those reasons to point at Franks methodology, to point at his attitude, at his approach towards art, to express my doubt about his intent of acquiring the vast knowledge that is needed for judging who the greatest artist is. As I said, I don't have much knowledge about Frank, but the average intellectual performance and ignorance that he showed about certain things in the interviews I have read made me believe, that he possesed a very selective knowledge. He had all the knowledge that he needed to perform good at what he did, to fully express his own ideas, but determination of something like who the greatest artist is takes a lot more, you need to be interested in study of all styles/objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, make observations regarding the social, cultural, economic, and aesthetic values, you know, be knowledgeable and versatile in the fields of art history, art theory, art criticism, philosophy, etc.

All I said was, that Frank simply didnt seem to have the type of mind that would gather all that necessary knowledge, I dont think he was ever interested in having a substantial knowledge of art history, critical theory and philosophy (yes Kev, he would need to intellectually disprove all those Dantos that you use as doormats). Therefore I dont think that Frazettas opinion about Jones means anything in the art world. A good artist isn't necessarly a good art critic and the other way around. (who was the guy that wrote that Frazetta was an art god, lol? It is written in one of his books, cant remember which one, probably icon).

6/04/2011 2:07 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Lipov, do you think the fans pondering the stats in the newspaper are as knowledgeable about baseball as the superstars on the field? Do you think that movie fans are experts on acting and directing? That some news anchor knows war better than a soldier?

Danto has produced nothing of value. His books are not works of knowledge, but works of conjecture. And the "art world" is simply a market and a lifestyle choice. Danto is nothing but a copywriter in its employ.

Frazetta has all the necessary knowledge to judge the painting of others, because you can see the necessary knowledge at work in his own paintings. It's really that simple.

6/04/2011 8:39 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Frazetta has all the necessary knowledge to judge the painting of others, because you can see the necessary knowledge at work in his own paintings. It's really that simple.

So Jones was "the greatest living painter" and we can all move on now....but wait! What if Jones declared someone else "the greatest living painter"? Oh dear, this is so horribly confusing!

6/04/2011 9:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

etc.etc.-I understand that you are trying to be funny, trying. But I also somehow believe that you believe in your logic. I don't believe that anywhere anyone said that if Frank Frazetta said that Jones was the greatest painter that that made it so. Are you saying that Frazetta's opinion should be given no weight at all or no more weight than the next artist's?

6/04/2011 9:09 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Opinion is bias

bill,
I'd suggest you begin with a dictionary.

6/04/2011 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

I don't think it is that simple. I have no doubt Frank could judge a painting, but could he judge all the artworks? You know what I mean. We are talking about describing someone as "the finest painter". Its not enough to judge his art, you need to judge all art to consider one individual to be the finest one in certain time and place. You have to recognize his worth in relation to the standards or achievements of surrounding art environment, you have to recognize his value in relation to the intellectual, aesthetic, artistic, social, whatever accomplishments of the day.

Can you provide any material where I could see how Frazetta understood all that, did he ever write about art theories, any analyses of modernist movements, how did he disprove the writings of philosophers, what were his thoughts about Bacon or Freud, did Greenberg loose any sleep over Franks critical theories? Haha. I know what you think about your doormats, no need to go there again, what I need is a proof that Frank had the ability to critically, intellectually justify the exposure of one artist as the finest painter in the time and place we live in. (no, his barbarian paintings do not prove such knowledge)

6/04/2011 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Bill wrote: " I don't believe that anywhere anyone said that if Frank Frazetta said that Jones was the greatest painter that that made it so. Are you saying that Frazetta's opinion should be given no weight at all or no more weight than the next artist's?"
____________

It doesnt really matter if Jones is really the finest artist, he can be an art god as well as far as I care. What we are talking about is this - did Frank have the knowledge to point out one artist among our current living artists and describe him as the finest artist of the generation? If you think he could do that, tell us how did/could Frank justify such claims.
Until you answer that I'll answer your question - yes, I think Franks opinion about that particular question has almost no weight at all.

6/04/2011 9:32 PM  
Blogger bill said...

etc.etc.-Seriously? I guess you can't understand what I meant by that comment. If you need me to lay it out I will but I tend to not be expansive when writing in a comment section (I hate typing) believing that simple statements will be understood. But yeah, let me go grab a dictionary then I'll get back to you.

I guess I'll have to go back in the history of this blog to see if this kind of discussion is the norm. I'm pretty new here.

6/04/2011 9:35 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Lipov-I guess I just don't understand why he would have to justify the claim. We choose to accept it or not according to our own experience. I think the same is true when when we read statements from people with a lot of letters after their names. We read and then we choose for ourselves.

I have too much experience to give more weight to the opinion of a critic or historian than that of an accomplished artist. Neither will always be right but both kinds of experience should be respected.

6/04/2011 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Bill wrote: "I guess I just don't understand why he would have to justify the claim."
________________

Because of our doubts. I mean, why isnt this obvious? He wasnt some random guy on the street, he was well known man in our time and he was present in the public. His statement was expressed in public, I think he had a larger responsibility to justify his claims than I have for example. I am a nobody, my power to shape opinions of others is minimal, who cares about me. But "one of the most influental artists of last half a century" (thats how they said in his documentary, right?) should justify his public claims. I think a person like that simply has to.

6/04/2011 10:01 PM  
Blogger bill said...

I guess we'll just have to disagree on this then. I don't believe that every influential person is required to justify every opinion he/she has expressed.

Moot point anyway.

6/04/2011 10:09 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Again Lipov, you are caught up in the same dull confidence game of academicism -- another fish in the boat of the sanctioned fan boys. It shocks me how effective the scheme is…somebody tells you critical theory is important to understanding art, and you jump right on that bandwagon. (Yes master.) We must give Danto importance, because Danto is given importance by the market known as "the art world". (yes master) We must give Greenberg importance, because Greenberg has been given importance. (yes master) Or this theory, or that theory, or this ism or that ism. (Yes… I must obey my superior sophisticates…) And on and on. Never mind that none of it will help you paint a single painting. It is all fandom with pretentions to scholasticism.

Are you are an intellectual sheep?

You are listening to talkers, babblers, carnival barkers, trying to talk themselves into the history of art without painting a single picture. They are mere gatekeepers, the shephards of many minds that are kept from appreciating (let alone liking) the art that exists outside their indoctrination, outside the correct art-rationales du jour.

Show me one great painting (and the Frazetta quote, btw, is greatest painter, not greatest artist) done to suit critical theory or Mr. Danto. Better yet, show me one work of art done by a critical theorist. When you finish reading Mr. Danto’s books of suppositions and apologetics, you know all you need to know about Mr. Danto, and nothing more about art. But you have given the author authority, and money.

Which is to say, you are granting all these academic fan boys cultural authority by saying they have cultural authority. This authority has the same origin as Tinkerbell’s reality. The belief in it is its cause.

Frazetta once said that there has been a lot of brainwashing in the arts. The deference you show to the weeds that have grown up in this grand garden of art is ample proof of his point. Why not stop and smell the poesies instead?

6/04/2011 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Bill wrote: "I don't believe that every influential person is required to justify every opinion he/she has expressed."
___________

Maybe not every single opinion, but when "one of the most influental artists" decides to single out one artist and describes him as the finest painter, don't you think that is a bit more than just "every opinion"?
Don't you ever find yourself believeing to experts of certain fields simply because they are experts? You feel like you can simply trust them because their status guarantees some necessary level of knowledge, so you feel like you can simply relax, follow their advice, simply accept their thoughts?

We value such opinions, even if we do not agree with them at first, we are aware of the fact who made them, that's why we keep analysing them and thinking about them. Because of their author's status, we know he had to prove something to achieve that status so his opinion could have a value we maybe just can not understand at first. So we keep coming back after time, to see if we grew enough to understand them now.

At least thats what I do when I think about various artists statements throughout history. Thats why I think it's their responsibility to justify their claims. Because they're not nobodys.

Kev, you did not answer my questions. I am well aware of your opinion about Greenberg and Co., we had these debates before and yes, I might be an intellectual sheep. Sucks to be me. But even if we agree that those critics were wrong, they tried to answer the questions of the phenomenon of twentieth century art, they showed the understanding of past philosophers achievements and tried to predict the future developments. They showed interest in art in its broadest sense and they showed intellectual strengtht (yes they did). Could Frank even pronounce Nietzsche?

Is critical theory important to understanding art? I think everything that was used to create art is important to understand when evaluating art. So when someone is judging who our finest painter is should possess the knowledge of all art creating methods of the day. Thats why I'm still waiting for some explanation of Franks ability to comprehend the forms of art in our time.

6/04/2011 11:09 PM  
Blogger bill said...

No we will not come to an agreement. He might have, a month later, declared someone else to be the greatest painter of our age. The thing is he never wrote that down in a definitive text and declared for all to hear that Jeffrey Catherine Jones is our age's greatest painter. Context has a lot to do with a statement.
Perhaps if we find a long lost, the gospel according to Frazetta manuscript he would need to justify statements made therein.

6/04/2011 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Bill wrote: "He might have, a month later, declared someone else to be the greatest painter of our age."
______________

I guess so... so you answered your own question about Franks competence
regarding his opinions when you asked Etc, etc if Frazetta's opinion should be given any weight at all. Do you really think that anyone with at least some credibility is talking bullshit all day long except when he announces the incoming "definitive text and declared for all to hear"? Come on...

6/04/2011 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like many of us who frequent facebook, I was lucky enough to talk with Jones many times (and before that, when he was working on his website). Like many also, I was slightly confused whether to use 'he' or 'she' when talking about the artist. But I was incredibly surprised when Patrick Hill sent me a quick message regarding his sudden lapse into ill health, and then just as suddenly, death.

Left behind is such an amazing catalog of work, it is hard to really take it all in. The art that he produced over the years maintained a quality that very few of his contemporaries managed to do. It was just so great that he started to use facebook a lot in the last few years, communicating (mostly in very few words) with his fans, friends and fellow artists, and adding new work very frequently.

I have loved his work probably since those Wonder Woman covers back in the 70s, along with all the fanzines I collected then as well. I followed him through many comics, magazines and such, culminating with The Studio book. His work was always sublime, many times humorous, but always incredibly well rendered. Above that, he had the most amazing sense of composition, rarely equaled.

I look forward to the documentary that Mario Carbado is finishing, and when I can afford to, buying the book Desperado recently published. I plan also to do an Ink Stains feature on Jones in July, showcasing his Gasm underground.

Ken Meyer Jr.

6/04/2011 11:54 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Lipov-I seriously question whether you read to understand or to argue. You take a comment I give as an example and base an argument on it? People great and small say things every day which they need not defend.

The gist of the discussion is that you have a very different view of qualifies one to make that statement than I do. That's fine. you will not talk me out of it nor I you. I work every day with academics whose opinion of painting I will always give less weight than accomplished studio colleagues.

And by the way and argument ended with "come on" loses all its weight.

I am going to bed.

6/05/2011 12:40 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

so you answered your own question about Franks competence regarding his opinions when you asked Etc, etc if Frazetta's opinion should be given any weight at all

Lipov,
Exactly. As I see it, the more credence one gives to Frazetta's judgment and opinions, the more credence one must thereby give to his statement "Jones is the greatest living painter", a statement which I find to be preposterous quite frankly.

6/05/2011 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt Frazetta considered calling the E. Stroudsberg Times and looked into printing a full page announcement " I , Frank Frazetta , Spectrum Fantasy Grand Master do proclaim J.C. Jones the greatest living painter "

It was probably a casual tossoff to some who repeated it to someone who put it on Jeff's site , or told him about it , and he put it up on the site .

Jeff was probably not the greatest living painter , but he sure as hell was far from the worst .

6/05/2011 1:31 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

I am guessing we all agree that if a powerhouse talent like Frazetta calls you "the greatest living painter," that is definitely a good thing.

However, I'm also guessing that, regardless of what Frazetta says, we all agree that Jones was not really "the greatest living painter."

So if we don't take Frazetta's words literally, this exchange seems (quite properly) to be about how much significance we should attach to Frazetta's words. Some have pointed out that Frazetta tended to inflate the quality of artists for personal reasons (e.g., family members Ken Kelly or Frank Jr.) That's understandable. Some have noted that his opinions could be erratic, complimenting an artist one day and complaining the next day that the same artist stole Frazetta's style. And of course, we all noted that people sometimes exaggerate out of carelessness or enthusiasm.

And several great artists have exhibited bad taste when it comes to judging the work of their peers.

So there are plenty of reasons to accept Frazetta's words as a great compliment yet not take them literally, absent some supporting info. I don't view this as being skeptical of the great man-- he doesn't have to explain himself to us-- I just think we do him a favor by not taking him so literally unless he signals that he really wants to be taken literally.

I don't shrink from concluding that one artist is better than another, or even that an artist is "the best" within appropriate limitations. I've made a few enemies doing that. But because there are few if any objective criteria in this line of work, if we aspire to "evaluate" art (that is, to assign "value" so that we can place one work above another) our only support for our judgments is our line of reasoning, expressed aloud. People may find our reasons persuasive (in which case we qualify as a critic until we cease being persuasive) or not.

As we evaluate the work of Jones, the reason "because Frazetta says so" is not the very worst rationale in the world, but it is hardly the most persuasive, and certainly not enough to qualify someone as "the greatest painter" in my book.

6/05/2011 2:45 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

It doesn't matter if Frank meant it or not. We can see the quality of Jeff's work in the work. If Frank, on a bad day, had declared Jeff the worst painter in the world we would take that with a grain of salt.

Silly argument.

To be in the thick of it doesn't mean you understand it more, or can explain it better. You experience it more, and that is important, but it isn't the whole. People on the sidelines can see things from different angles, might have a better view of the larger picture etc.

Art comunicates with the viewer, and then the viewer mirrors the art back in their response. Artist complaining that critics don't paint and therefore should shut up don't seem to understand this.

6/05/2011 5:25 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

I'm honestly not familiar with Frazetta and Jones' relationship, but I suspect the most probable explanation is that Frazetta was wielding auctoritas and made the statement in an attempt to bolster Jone's career.

6/05/2011 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be in the thick of it doesn't mean you understand it more, or can explain it better. You experience it more, and that is important, but it isn't the whole. People on the sidelines can see things from different angles, might have a better view of the larger picture etc

--——--—

How do you know? What do you know? Why should anyone give your opinion any weight at all?

6/05/2011 9:15 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

How do I know? From sometimes being in the thick of it and having to step out to find out what is going on. From experience and from observing from the sidelines. If I was to gain knowledge from only my experience I would probably die. While I have not experienced getting electrocuted from a power point, others have warned me that if I stick my finger in the power point I would probably die. I am sure you have been told the same thing, and therefore we both know that sticking our fingers in a power point is a bad thing (unless you want to die). Someone who has already experienced sticking their finger into a power point might be able to tell me what it felt like, if they survived, but not much more.

What do I know? Hard to quantify, but will give the pat answer: not enough.

Why should anyone give my opinion any weight at all? Wonderful thing about the net is that opinions have no weight at all. They're free to float around lighter than air, or just full of hot air.

Cheers

6/05/2011 10:24 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

You know, I actually miss Rob. Is he alright?

6/05/2011 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adams, in what areas do you think you have uncommon expertise and intelligence? Certainly not painting. Given that you lack uncommon expertise and intelligence in the area of painting, you would not be a wise choice to consult on matters of painting. An objectivity that is equivalent to ignorance has no value. Not every opinion is equal.

6/05/2011 11:46 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Mous, one of my illustration teachers told me a story once. He was illustrating a book that involved a drawing of a beach and had drawn what he thought was a wondeful drawing of beach curving away up to the horizon, very much like the beach in front of him. A little child walked up to look at the picture, and exclaimed that it was a wonderful drawing of wave, meaning that to him the beach looked like a wave. This child had no deep understanding of the finer points of drawing, but he knew what the picture looked like. My teacher was then forced to relook at his picture and start again.

Now, who are you, and what are your credentials? I don't really care myself (especially on online forums) but you seem to set a lot of store by them and I wonder why you are not using them?

6/05/2011 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprised that your illustration teacher needed guidance from an infant. How that bedtime story relates to giant talents like frazetta and jones escapes me.

6/05/2011 10:09 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/05/2011 10:51 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Anon and on and on, the teacher I was talking about was Armin Greder (no illustration giant, but that is impossible these days). He was a good illustrator and a good teacher, and any failure on my part to become an illustrator of any particular worth is my own. I have worked as a newspaper illustrator as well as a freelancer before deciding that my work was never going to equal or get close to the illustrators I admired and called it a day. But I have been in the thick of it, and so far all you have been is thick. I don't think having been in the thick of it makes my opinion any more or less valid but you seem to. Come back with something worthwhile or bugger off.

6/05/2011 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adams, do you think your opinion is of the same value as Frazetta's or Jones' with regard to painting? A very simple question, to which you may answer yes or no. After answering no, slink back to your burrow and reflect on how bloody arrogant it is for ignorant people without ability or drive to think they know better than top flight, highly-trained pros with awesome talent and indomitable wills.

6/05/2011 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon - hope you don't suffer excessively from guilt for causing Adams to lose sleep and seek therapy from your withering blasts of anonymous snideness .

His opinion may not , in some sense , have the same "value" as FF's or JJ's regarding painting , but it doubtlessly has more than your own. You are , after all , merely one of the many who post from the safety of anonymity and relish the freedom it affords to wallow in swinishness .

Al McLuckie

6/06/2011 1:10 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Lipov: "I think everything that was used to create art is important to understand when evaluating art. So when someone is judging who our finest painter is should possess the knowledge of all art creating methods of the day."

i would expect Frazetta to be dismissive about most modern art of the time so to ask for evidence of his broader critical thinking on modern art seems a bit of a waste of time.
i seriously doubt that when Frazetta made the statement about Jones he was placing him in the context of all contemporaneous schools of painting. i would assume he meant '...in the field of fantasy illustration'. i could be wrong about that, but it seems you're taking the quote way out of context.

if anything, the quote sounds self-congratulatory; "Jeffrey Jones is the greatest living painter"... ("Jones copied me, you know").
nothing surprising about that kind of thing among artists.

6/06/2011 6:15 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

p.s. UK dwellers, there are two rooms of Egon Schiele drawings at Richard Nagy gallery until 30th June.

6/06/2011 6:24 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

if anything, the quote sounds self-congratulatory; "Jeffrey Jones is the greatest living painter"... ("Jones copied me, you know").
nothing surprising about that kind of thing among artists.


Exactly. Bias.

I would not expect of Frazetta evidence of his broader critical thinking on modern art. There was, however much going on in various related realism painting movements that Frazetta could have and should have been aware of. Like modern art however, he was unfit as a judge of such movements because he never exhibited (as far as I am aware) a solid understanding of technical sophistications such as color of light and its effects on objects, just to name one. Had Frazetta added "in the field of fantasy illustration" I would have still not agreed with him, but allowed him far more respect and deference, as it was his field of expertise.

6/06/2011 9:17 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

etc, etc... are you trolling or are you being serious?

6/06/2011 10:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Anonypuss, I could say sorry because I have somehow offended you, but I suspect that would only offend you too. As for crawling back to my hole, it ain't gonna happen. Something has obviously crawled up your hole and died, and such a fate does not appeal to me.

6/06/2011 10:03 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,

Just trolling. Don't take me seriously, and never question your beliefs.

6/06/2011 10:09 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2011 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adams, see if you can keep your emotions in check long enough to actually answer the question: Do you think your opinion is of the same value as Frazetta's or Jones' with regard to painting? A very simple question, to which you may answer yes or no. If the answer is no, as it should be, your entire proposition is defeated by your own recognition of the fact that it is arrogant for ignorant people without ability or drive to think they know better about their own field than top flight, highly-trained pros with awesome talent and indomitable wills.

6/06/2011 10:47 AM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Annoying mouse, you are like a courtroom lawyer.

>>>Do you think your opinion is of the same value as Frazetta's or Jones' with regard to painting?<<<

No, my opinion has a different value.

6/06/2011 11:07 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

etc, etc., your sarcasm turns out to be ironic.

Assertion after assertion, you prove your ignorance of the information exhibited in Frazetta's works and what is known about what Frazetta has said and done. (The idea that he never went to see other people's paintings is particularly uninformed.)

Listening to you prattle on against Frazetta is sad. Clearly something about him has you bugged.

6/06/2011 11:10 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

My dearest and most silly Kevs,

I did not say "he never went to see other people's paintings". Anyone could have done that. What I said was that from what I have observed of Frazetta's oeuvre, none of them indicate that he had a consistent, conscious understanding that light is colored and the effects thereby produced; care to prove me wrong? Assuming you understand it yourself, of course....

6/06/2011 11:53 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

etc, etc.

I'll assume you've never seen Frazetta's best paintings... which strongly impress with their sense of light and yet seduce you with their tone. Particularly when you see them in person.

Luckily there are many different ways to portray light and Frazetta's quality of light is different than Sorolla's or Leffel's or Walter Everett's or Bernie Fuchs'. I'm sure each one of these artists, and a thousand more, could do an academic study of a vase to meet your mimetic standards.

And, yes, I always hold out the possibility that I am uninformed, for the most part, of the properties of light and its interaction with surfaces, materials, and atmospheres of various sorts.

6/06/2011 1:32 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2011 1:56 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"from what I have observed of Frazetta's oeuvre, none of them indicate that he had a consistent, conscious understanding that light is colored and the effects thereby produced"-etc,etc

I've noticed that too. It seems that almost all of Frazetta's light sources were white.

I did manage to find one piece where there are some hints that he attempted to use multiple coloured light-sources, but it's rather poorly done.

It seems to me that while Frazetta was a killer draftsman, his colour-skills were really very subpar. I don't think, though, that that was particularly out of the ordinary for illustrators then or now.

6/07/2011 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at catgirl and nightwinds, dipshit. Why hath God given mouths to the ignorant?

6/07/2011 11:16 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Richard,
I agree. As a Baroque-o-phile, I have a great deal of love for Frazetta's work (as an adult it's almost impossible to totally dismiss something one loved as a child), and tend to think of his formal style as neo-Baroque, right down to the use of color that is more decorative and graphic than realistic. However, I do believe it behooves a modern painter to understand the objective phenomena of light, especially if one appoints oneself to the judgment seat to pronounce "the greatest living painter".

6/07/2011 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard - care to post an image , for comparison, to the poorly done Frazetta image that fulfills your critical standards ?

Etc. "appoints oneself to the judgment seat to pronounce?" You really don't think it was a casual comment made to someone that has now been overblown ?

6/07/2011 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Etcetera etcetera, true to his name, just can't let it go. "behooves" ??? Who put you in charge of what behooves top flight pro artists? Who are you but some arrogant doofus on the net posting under a fake name? Are you anybody worth listening to?

6/07/2011 3:23 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

People, why so angry?

6/07/2011 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've transcended that lower state ? Whats your secret ??

6/07/2011 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baroque? etcetera, go back to art history 101, you clueless dork.

6/07/2011 4:24 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

You really don't think it was a casual comment

No. It sure sounds like a formal pronouncement to me. A casual comment would have been, "Jeffrey Jones is my favorite living painter".

Are you anybody worth listening to?

No. Don't waste another second on me. Please.

6/07/2011 9:17 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

this shows the effect of colored lights fairly well

6/08/2011 2:57 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/08/2011 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty - and think how much prettier it would be if even more magenta pink and mint green light sources could have been worked in . I like Gurneys work but this is too much . Frazetta's sample has areas of muted color to offset the surreal color and works better than Gurney's image .

Would be interesting to hear Gurney's thoughts on his color sense compared to Frazetta's - in light of the fact that he learned a lot from Frazetta working with him on Fire and Ice . The world of E.B. mars was supposed to contain colors outside the earthly spectrum , which , though impossible to depict , was well handled in that piece.

6/08/2011 3:22 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I didn't choose that piece because I think it's particularly good, but because it showed the principle quite clearly -- a principle which it would seem Frazetta was uncomfortable utilizing.

6/09/2011 3:56 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

The problem is that Frazetta generally has all of his characters standing under a halogen bulb in the middle of a black night.

6/09/2011 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The conan image you post to show the "problem" with Frazetta's approach is a masterfully orchestrated example of his ability to compose multiple figures in a composition , which few if any living artists can even approach .

Could you or any living artist make suggestions to "improve" upon that image with different colored and directional light sources ? Could Boris touch it up with his absurd multiple sources of bounce light filling every shadow ?

Off the top of my head Paradox - pale gold light , Nightwind , Flesheaters , Catgirl , Green Death , Fire Demon the first Conan come to mind as examples of "non halogen" pieces . Against the Gods , Swamp Demon , Sea Witch all benefit from the "halogen" effect , more than some tricky lighting effect which would lessen the impact of those pieces .

But , to each their own - you follow some really good art blogs and certainly have a right to an opinion - just feel it's a mischaracterization of his work as you've stated it .

6/10/2011 2:09 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Richard: "The problem is that Frazetta generally has all of his characters standing under a halogen bulb in the middle of a black night"


not necessarily a problem at all.
see how the low-fill, single-source lighting in this Caravaggio cuts out the extraneous details and highlights the important ones:

http://tinyurl.com/29fgn5r

6/12/2011 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Gary LaSasso said...

Oh My; these Comments should Go On. Wonderful Discussion, and sorry that I missed it after Jeffery's passing.

i have to go back and read it all again in less of a Hurry Next time.
Jones & Frazzetta are two of the most Natural Painters in History. and to diminish Either by Comparison is Individually Subjective. But to say that Frazzetta Didn't know Color or Reflect with Color is just not True. look at His Zulu Tribesmen..? And you can feel the bitterness of the oxidation on the handle of the Death Dealer's Sword. Claiming one is better then the Other, Is like saying Clapton is better then Hendix, or Visa-Versa. Thank Goodness We Had Both Painters, (and both Musicians). And Thanks David Apatoff for Your Insight..!!!

1/14/2012 4:00 PM  

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