Thursday, May 9, 2013

1952 Monte Carlo Race Art, Redux: The Art Of Reynold Brown

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the cover art from the March, 1952 issue of Auto Speed & Sport. It portrayed a check-in from a mid-race moment, rendered against the evening-shadowed hills of the Monte Carlo race course. It's a beautifully-rendered piece, evoking the romance and excitement of mid-Century auto-racing.

Cover Art by Reynold Brown, Auto Speed & Sport Magazine, March, 1952

Imagine how happy I was, then,  to be contacted by the owner of the original artwork that was the basis for the cover. His name is Patrick Kelley, and he took the time to fill me in on some of the details of the picture's story.

He included a snapshot of the framed piece, and even though it's behind glass, the scope of the colors, and the spectrum of rich blues from top to bottom still read magnificently.

The artist was Reynold Brown, a prolific and in-demand artist of the 50's, not just for the occasional car or hunting magazine cover, but also for some of the most memorable movie posters of the era, like the stunning "Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman"...

And the first movie I saw in 3-D, at a revival film festival, "The Creature From The Black Lagoon"

But for me, personally, his astounding ability to combine the active and the emotional was a huge plus for the car and pulp magazine cover industry. It really set the standard for others to strive for. Because of Patrick's heads-up, I discovered that another of Reynold's works was already on my blog, this one from the cover of Popular Science, March of 1948

Just that little detail of the dog leaping to safety sells it for me. "Man's Best Friend...Up To A Point." would have been a great alternate title for this painting.

Contrast this with the fine artist, Lester Fagans. Lester was a very good draftsman, whose attention to detail made him a popular choice for cruiseship and boat-maker advertising. He painstakingly choreographed and painted this cover for Popular Science, April 1946.

It's a neat cover, but because there is no humanity, there is no emotion. They might as well be toy cars in a diorama. Reynold would have stuck a hand through the car door window, at least.
Google Reynold Brown sometime, and you'll be amazed at the vast output of an artist whose name nowadays is greeted with a shrug. But show those same shoulder-shruggers some of his unforgettable creations, and you'll see a wonderful grin creep across their faces.

Again, thanks to Patrick for sharing part of his private collection, and thanks to Reynold Brown!

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