Saturday, December 31, 2022

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Enoch Bolles is reminding you that November 17 is the Great American Smokeout

 Yes, its been far too long since we've had a Bolles take on a celebration day, although it's unlikely that anyone who participates in today's annual smokeout describe it as one. This is a great composition with a telling theme, and the candlestick lamp adds some high contrast drama. All these elements were rare themes in Bolles work. The vast majority of his covers could be best described as content free pinup poses that owed nothing to the content between the covers. But Snappy Stories was an exception, featuring cover art that to some extent depicted the theme of the cover story. Bolles often employed background shadows to great effect, as we see here, but he generally abhored casting any shadowing on his figures, considering it a sort of an artistic crutch. 

And as any Bolles fan knows, our rueful covergirl dithering about having a smoke was a lonely outlier among the the legions of two pack a day Bolles girls (someday I'll get around to surveying the percentage of them who smoked). Below you see one of my favorite examples, another rare thematic cover Bolles later painted over to tragic effect for a different magazine. While Bolles also painted ads for several cigarette companies, he himself was never a user of the evil weed, perhaps a reason why he lived to the ripe old age of 93.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Bolles sightings continue!


Round two of recent Bolles sightings. This one during a recent visit to Providence, Rhode Island. While there I perused the aisles of a terrific local bookstor and was drawn to this cool book (The Art of the Movie Poster), chock full of great gaudy art. While paging through it my Bolles spidey sense suddenly began tinging. Take a close look at the enlargement below and see what tickled my sixth sense.

The movie Sinful Souls began its brief run on the silver screen in 1939, a full three years after the issue of Gay Book that inspired the poster art was published. There have been other B movie posters that swiped other Bolles girls, but nome using art from the relatively classy Gay Book.  Bolles himself  had a brief stint in the movie industry beginning in the late 20's during which he produced movie posters and publicity art for several Fox Film projects. For reasons unknown, his stint sadly lasted only a couple years. So sadly, it's very likely there are more movie examples of movie posters with art swiped from Bolles than produced by his own hand.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Another Bolles sighting!


Those of you who have followed this blog know that when when on the road, my spidey-sense is open for a potential Bolles sighting. During a recent trip to Columbus, Ohio I happened to be in a tattoo shop (more like the tattoo equivalent of an Apple store) when I got that familar tingle rising in the back of my skull. Take a look and see if you can find what set it off. 

I bet you found it. This image might be contemporary, but to me it looks more like it came off a vintage tattoo flash sheet.     

And here's the source, a classic Film Fun cover from 1936. If you were were forced to pick a Bolles to swipe from the 580 covers (my current count) he painted, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better choice.  

Later during the trip I stopped by the fabulous Columbus Art Museum and wouldn't you know it, the tingling started up again and led me to this painting. No one would confuse her wtih a Bolles girl but once I read the name on the placard I understood the connection. 

In addition to being an important early 20th Century artist, Robert Henri was an influential art instructor. For a number of years he taught at the famous Art Students League in New York City, and among his many notable students was our man Enoch. Now having said this, Bolles was not a particularly fond of the great teacher's opinionated and demanding ways. In a letter Bolles wrote many years later he lamented that: " you were forced to become a little Henri or you were just ignored".  But having said this I do see some influence by Henri on Bolles' earliest work. Here's the Bolles image that comes to mind. It's just his second published cover, done in 1914, at the very time when Enoch was taking night classes at the League.
You can't but notice the similarities: the restrained palette; the dark but not quite back background; the loose brushwork. But take a look at the next cover Bolles did for Judge five months later. The Bolles stylistic DNA dominates the painting. It was only his third magazine publication, but I don’t think it's too much a stretch to conclude that Enoch said “enough!”.  And I we can all be grateful for that. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

February 28 is Floral Design Day

  After a long hiatus we return to celebrate Floral Design Day with our man Enoch taking fulsome advantage the theme. This rarely used over and nearly out of the top optical illusion was reserved for risqué pulps such as Gay Parisienne. So it’s a real surprise that Bolles’ most envelope pushing example appeared in Breezy Stories, a long-running periodical that specialized in demure romance stories about properly behaving young ladies. While this cover may have lowered their reputations, it no doubt raised the circulation of both the magazine and its readers.