Something different today. Or maybe not so different. I first saw Boris Vallejo’s art on the covers of my Tarzan books. I was in my early teens, I think–maybe younger, and those covers sold the books for me. I loved the smooth, clean lines Valejo used in his action scenes. He made it look so real and I imagined that Tarzan must have been that thick-muscled. Of course later I would come to realize that artists have their own interpretation when I discovered Frazetta and other illustrators and painters, and my taste evolved to a more savage, gritty-like style.
Vallejo has been a mainstay presence for fantasy and science fiction and you can’t talk about Frazetta without mentioning Vallejo, even though, in my opinion, they have completely different styles. I do not like his superhero-themed work or later erotica, but his work in the late 70s and early 80s are pretty fantastic.
From Wikipedia: Vallejo works almost exclusively in the fantasy and erotica genres. His hyper-representational paintings have graced the covers of dozens of science fiction paperbacks and are featured in a series of best-selling glossy calendars. Subjects of his paintings are typically Sword and sorcery gods, monsters, and well-muscled male and female barbarians engaged in battle. Some of his male figures were modeled by Vallejo himself, and many of his later female characters were modeled by his wife, Julie Bell (who is also a former bodybuilder and pretty awesome painter herself – Woelf). His latest works still retain heavy fantasy elements, but lean more towards the erotic rather than pure fantasy themes.
Vallejo’s covers for Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and various other fantasy characters (often done for paperback fiction works featuring the characters), garnered him a following fast and he quickly became popular, which is understandable given his massive talent and the subject-matter of his paintings.
Below are a few choice samples for your fantasy palate.
5 thoughts on “#Art of Fantasy 7: Boris Vallejo”
When I was a kid, Vallejo was one of my favourite artists. Well, for a period, he was my absolute fevourite, though now I prefer a different kind of illustration (Frazetta, Brom… yes, as you said, grittier artists).
I agree that his work from the 1970s and 1980s is the best. I think in that period, he found a fantastic balance between forms, colours and movement. Then he became… I don’t know… a bit too much.
I agree wholly with you. I think his style evolved and if you look at his wife’s work you will find that they do paint very similar now. So it could be that influence, but yes, I loved his earlier work.