Saturday, September 10, 2011

Frazetta: Tarzan At Earth's Core 1962

TARZAN AT THE EARTHS CORE 1962, original version.

A large, full-bodied image of Tarzan, wild action, and a life-and-death animal struggle characterize this very early ACE paperback cover. Both protagonists have sensational INTENSITY in their respective faces. The interesting thing about these early ACE covers is that Frazetta was experimenting, finding his way with color and line and form. There is tremendous charm in these early efforts because of that honest searching. Frazetta is searching for a style and an approach that is uniquely his. He hasn’t figured it all out yet. This piece displays razor-like clarity along with delicate impressionistic passages. In short, a great example of Frazetta's technique and vision that would revolutionize the realms of imaginative art in the coming decades. Frank kept this version and painted another copy for publication. He wanted to keep this version because it had a little more intensity and polish. I also prefer this version to the later version. Tarzan has much more animation and there are richer colors. Original efforts are often better because they are the result of the first flow of imagination. Later recreations are often characterized by too much thought, too deliberate. The “flow” is hidden and replaced by industry and technique.

The piece is approx 12x18, the largest of all the ACE covers. It does have the defect of having a perforation that runs across the middle of the painting. This was caused when Frank tried to dry the painting too quickly in the oven. This has been repaired and overpainted by Frazetta. It can be noticed but, quite frankly, it does not detract from the power or the quality of this original. I have owned it for many years and derived nothing but sheer pleasure from constant viewings. The painting is predominantly oil, but it does have some touches of watercolor gouache. The colors are beautifully blended and the overall design is seemless and breathtaking. The background colors are wonderfully subtle; the signature is the classic weighted Frazetta flourish. The signature was added later in the early 1980’s. The visual effect of the piece is startlingly 3-dimensional. This is the type of painting that Frazetta will always be known for---action, intensity, uniquely harmonized tints, and a quintessential image of Tarzan.

Dr. Dave Winiewicz (c)2011