For Immediate Release
December 22, 1999
Contacts: Cathcart, or
University of Maryland Art Gallery Explores Images for 21st Century
COLLEGE PARK, Md. For centuries, man has been fascinated with looking beyond the immediacies of time and place in search of distant lands and future conquests. Incorporating ideas of science, often mythical in origin, illustrations transform non-experienced realities, different possibilities and alternative futures into a new art form. An exhibition titled, Possible Futures: Science Fiction Art From The Frank Collection, opens Jan. 27 at the Art Gallery at the University of Maryland.
The Art Gallery's first show of the new millennium offers viewers an opportunity to ponder what might have been. More than 60 original paintings representing the best examples of science fiction illustrations from the late 1930s to present day present images ranging from the ethereal and surreal to bewildering and bizarre. Rendered in oils, gouache and acrylics, the works display superb draftsmanship, extraordinary and expressive vision, and remarkably telling iconography.
Originally created as illustrations for science fiction paperback books or magazine covers, the images are bold, provocative and are intended to grab attention. Perhaps more amazing than the art itself, is the fact that these pieces are drawn from the private collection of Howard and Jane Frank, which includes more than 600 one-of-a-kind works of science fiction, horror and fantasy art pieces that spans a period of more than 100 years. The collection is among the largest of its kind in the world.
According to Howard Frank, who also happens to be dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at Maryland, the collection typically represents the artist's best works. "The collection covers a wide range of forms and styles," says Frank, "with pieces from nearly 200 artists from the United States and Britain."
The collection is the subject of a comprehensive book, The Frank Collection: A Showcase of the World's Finest Fantastic Art (Paper Tiger, Collins and Brown, 1999). The catalog is the first scholarly publication to examine science fiction art in relation to fine art, art history, the sciences and American culture. The volume of essays excavates the slick surfaces of images from the various realms of science fiction, probes their meanings and disrupts any simplistic understanding of the art form.
Highly regarded by collectors and public enthusiast of science fiction and fantasy alike, works from the Frank Collection have been in two museum shows: the Delaware Museum of Art and the Canton Museum of Fine Art.
Following the closing of the exhibition on March 4, the collection will travel to three other venues: the Society of Illustrators in New York, Bowling Green Fine Arts Center, Ohio, and the Widener University Arts Collection and Gallery in Pennsylvania. For the Franks, who have sold or traded only three works from their expansive collection, a year is a long time for the works to be on loan.
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