Thursday, January 01, 2009

Spectrum 15 edited by Cathy & Arnie Fenner

The fifteenth annual for the best in the fantastic in art has a cover that looks less genre and more upscale than usual -- I wonder if that was deliberate? (Some online sellers, like, have what I suspect was a earlier cover design, with a great but more genre-looking cover from Jon Foster.) Or maybe that cover was chosen because it features a scantily clad young woman? (Always popular.) Or maybe because it's by Michael Whelan? (Still a name to conjure with.)

Whatever the reason, it's a classy cover to a collection of great art from 2007 -- not always classy, but always excellent. The works included in the book were chosen by a panel of judges, nearly all of them artists themselves, and arranged by the Fenners. (Arnie Fenner also provides his usual long introduction, which was thankfully less political than the last few.)

As usual, the art is divided into several broad (and occasionally overlapping, though there seems to be less of that this year) categories: Advertising, Book, Comics, Concept Art, Dimension (3D works; sculptures, mostly), Editorial, Institutional, and Unpublished. A couple of the "Unpublished" works in particular are categorized oddly: if a work lists an art director and a client, and that work is already appearing (or about to appear) for that client, it's not really "unpublished" in any reasonable sense.

But, really, Spectrum is about the art, and that's stunning. There's a wide variety of styles, from CGI realistic to smeary-paint impressionism, with many side trips along the way. As a whole, it tends more to the realistic end, but there's still a lot of variation in finish and point of view. This year's book is 264 pages long, and most of those pages are filled with great art -- also, the art is displayed and reproduced well, with useful credits.

I don't commission book-cover art anymore, but I still get Spectrum to see what's going on in the fantasy-art scene. It's vital for anyone interested in that world.

1 comment:

Carl V. Anderson said...

One of the highlights of every year is the release of the latest version of Spectrum. Not sure how they manage to do so, but each year the package they put together is better. Fantastic art book, and such an amazing value for the price.

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