Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Artfest: Barbarian by Frank Frazetta

Barbarian by Frank Frazetta

I love, love, love this picture of Conan. Behind him rise the grisly images of his future and past. Death over his right shoulder and a serpent coiling back on itself through the kingdom that he'll one day rule over his left. And below that, the world is in flames as he stands atop the dessicated bodies of his enemies while a naked damsel slumps against his leg. 

The bodies of both Conan and the woman are typical of Frazetta's over muscled and sexualized bodies. And while some will criticize this piece for the naked female on the Barbarian's hip, they often overlook the fact that Conan's only clothing is his weaponry and the belt that holds them. It's as though each figure is a representation of our primal origins, like a murderous Adam and Eve burning their way back to the garden of Eden over the countless bodies of those who would hold them to our modern ways and mores.

A great piece all the way around. Your thoughts?


  1. Frazetta was really a great. So many people tried to copy his style.

    E.g. Boris Vallejo's work always seemed to me like a very bad attempt to copy Frazetta -- Vallejo did much crisper/"realistic" work but never had half the originality or the awesome sense of composition (if that is the right word for how the images fill the frame).

    Did this painting escape Frazetta's later tendency to "improve" his older paintings with additional layers of darker and darker paint? I hope so.

    1. A lot of my problems with Vallejo's work comes from the static nature of the paintings. Even when his subjects were in mid flight or brawling in the street i was always left with the impression that nothing was really happening htere.

      By contrast you can look at both Frazetta or a modern artist, such as Alex Ross, and see actual movement and life in the works. I'm not sure if it's because Vallejo is so concerned with being precise in his line work or if it's because he wanted to push himself towards photo realism, but they never measured up for me.

      Oh, and I don't think that any of his pictures avoided being reworked. I was reading an article on it and it seems that unless the picture was gone from his hands that he would work on it, and work on it until it meet up with some imagined form of perfection he had in his head. And then a few years later he'd start working on them again.

  2. I like this piece a lot because it's the prime example of Frazetta's triangle method of composition. Anyone who is into doing fantasy art should examine how he composes his art not just how it's drawn or painting.

    1. You're absolutely right mortellan. He's a master of not only movement within his works but of the composition as well.

      Great catch my friend and one that I had forgotten to mention in any of these I've done.


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