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Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration – Norman Rockwell Museum USA

12 Jun — 31 Oct 2021

Fictional worlds of magic and adventure come to life through fantasy illustration. Myths, legends, fables, romance, and epic battles involving swords and sorcery occur in a world unfamiliar to us. Unlike science fiction, which is based on fact, fantasy presents an imaginative reality built on universal themes—heroes defeating fire-breathing dragons, angels and demons engaging in combat, and mythological tales of love and loss.

For thousands of years, mankind has depicted analogous fantastic themes in numerous cultures. Noted scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell, claimed that mankind creates fantasy to help us understand the universe and our existence, delineate good and evil, and teach us how to thrive through adversity. Representations of dreams and nightmares, fictional creatures, and gods and monsters are made real through visual portrayals in fantasy art. Fantasy illustration interprets the imagination of the “undiscovered self.” In a 1929 interview, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein asserted, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration explores fantasy archetypes from the Middle Ages to today. The exhibition will present the immutable concepts of mythology, fairy tales, fables, good versus evil, and heroes and villains through paintings, etchings, drawings, and digital art created by artists from long ago to illustrators working today. Mythology explores the adventures of Apollo and Thor, Perseus rescuing Andromeda with the head of Medusa, and the labours of Hercules; fairy tales depict the worlds of elves, fairies, and mermaids, and conjure dreams of Little Nemo in Slumberland, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella; heroes and villains follow the exploits of Arthurian legends, Prince Valiant, Conan the Barbarian, and The Lord of the Rings; and haunting images of sorcerers and witches, and battles between angels and demons embody the struggle between good and evil.


Artists showcased in the exhibition include Jules Joseph Lefebvre, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Willem van Mieris, Richard Doyle, Gustave Doré, Palmer Cox, Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Willcox Smith, Joseph Clement Coll, N.C. Wyeth, Willy Pogany, Howard Pyle, J. Allen St. John, Hannes Bok, Dean Cornwell, Virgil Finlay, Hal Foster, Frank Frazetta, Kelly Freas, Roy Krenkel, Wayne Barlowe, Julie Bell, Thomas Blackshear, Brom, Kinuko Craft, Tony DiTerlizzi, Terry & Rachel Dodson, Jeff Easley, Bob Eggleton, Larry Elmore, Scott Fischer, Brian Froud, Donato Giancola, Gary Gianni, James Gurney, Scott Gustafson, Greg Hildebrandt, Jeff Jones, Gregory Manchess, Iain McCaig, Mike Mignola, Jean-Baptiste Monge, David Trampier, Boris Vallejo, Charles Vess, James Warhola, Michael Whelan, Allen Williams, Mark Zug, Scott Brundage, Wesley Burt, Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme, Nico Delort, Anna Dittmann, Justin Gerard, Cory Godbey, Piotr Jabłoński, Tyler Jacobson, Yoann Lossel, Victo Ngai, Karla Ortiz, Anthony Palumbo, David Palumbo, Alessandra Pisano, Annie Stegg Gerard, Eric Velhagen, and many more.

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