Legendary Fantasy Art Hits the Auction Block
Epic LOTR, Conan the Barbarian, and Flash Gordon sketches appear in Frank Frazetta's first solo auction, which comes five years after his passing.
Lot 42, “Death Dealer and Snow Queen” (1986). Courtesy of Profiles in History & DocDave Winiewicz
Arguably the greatest fantasy artist and illustrator of all time, Frank Frazetta's storied, five-decade career has just been celebrated through an extensive solo-auction of the artist’s works spanning many mediums including over 100 illustrations, paintings, comics, and sculptures. For the uninitiated, Frazetta’s expansive oeuvre spanned from album covers for metal bands Nazareth and Molly Hatchet, to fantasy artwork for epic novels, to satirical Ringo Starr ads for MAD Magazine, all done in his epic signature style.
Hosted by LA-based auction house Profiles In History and with works provided by DocDave Winiewicz, a close personal friend of Frazetta, the auction included a wide range of fantasy stalwarts, including illustrations of Tarzan in full-flexing vigor, pencil renderings of Lord of The Rings’ Nazgul mid-mace swing, and many different renditions of iconic comic hero Flash Gordon. Also of particular note is an elaborate bronze sculpture of Conan the Barbarian, a frequently recurring figure within Franzetta’s illustrations, and perhaps the most iconic subject of his work.
Coming five years after the Brooklyn-born artist’s unfortunate passing, the auction can be considered more than just a commercial outing of Frazetta’s art. As the work comes from the personal collection of his close friend Winiewicz, the auction can also be understood as a chronicling of Frazetta’s trajectory throughout his long career, as well as a dive into his less-discussed personal life.
Indeed, the auction also included various iterations of personal correspondence between the two friends of over 40 years. These are partly biographical and personal mementos, but they also shed some light on the Frazetta’s view of his own practice, especially visible in a letter in lot 73: “I consider myself to be a creative artist... I work purely from my imagination, no swipes or photographs…[my work] borders on abstract in spite of the subject matter.” Personal items, including photographs of the artist dressed as Tarzan in full hunk glory, also increase the sense of intimacy permeating the auction.
Although the auction’s doors have already closed, Frazetta’s legacy lives on through his namesake museum located in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains. To see what you missed out on, take a peak at the Profiles In History catalog of the auction and to view more of Frank Frazetta’s works, visit the illustrator’s official website.