James (Jim) Flora is best-known for his wild jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records (late 1940s) and RCA Victor (1950s). He authored and illustrated 17 popular children’s books and flourished for decades as a busy magazine illustrator. Few realize, however, that Flora (1914-1998) was also a prolific fine artist with a devilish sense of humor and a flair for juxtaposing playfulness, absurdity and violence.
Cute — and deadly.
Flora’s album covers pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins who fingered cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns. Yet this childlike exuberance was subverted by a tinge of the diabolic. Flora wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives.
Taking liberties with human anatomy, he drew bonded bodies and misshapen heads, while inking ghoulish skin tints and grafting mutant appendages. He was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa like bedspread patterns. On some Flora figures, three legs and five arms were standard equipment, with spare eyeballs optional. His rarely seen fine artworks reflect the same comic yet disturbingqualities. “He was a monster,” said artist and Floraphile JD King. So were many of his creations.
RIALTO, a wild Jim Flora tempera, was released in March 2021 as a limited edition fine art print. This early 1950s painting depicts the usual Flora vortex of otherworldly mutants, sex, peek-a-boo tenements, off-kilter landscapes, disjointed faces, and visual overload. The work is available as a limited edition of 35 prints.
ORIGINAL WORKS FOR SALE
We are now offering dozens of original Jim Flora works for sale. Most are from the 1990s, the vast majority never published or exhibited. After he retired, Flora created art every day for the remainder of his life. These works, mostly pen & ink, with some acrylics and oil pastels, differ stylistically from his early tempera paintings. However they reflect the artist's twisted vision, off-beat humor, and wide-ranging interests. Plus, some earlier works are being offered. Click on ORIGINALS in the navigation bar to view what's available.
Our first Jim Flora limited edition fine art print of 2023, PADDLEWHEELER, is now available. The undated, untitled work, likely rendered by Flora in the 1950s, depicts a colorful paddlewheel boat against a black backdrop. Paddlewheeler has not previously been reproduced anywhere. The work has been issued as a limited edition of 25 fine art prints.
CHIOGGIA, a colorful Venice montage inspired by the artist's 1962 sojourn to Italy, was issued as a limited edition fine art print in 2022. Trees, boats, birds, fish, evocative architecture, gondaliers, and more, arrayed in tiers in classic Flora style. The work is available as a limited edition of 20 fine art prints.