Saturday, September 28, 2013

September Illustrator: Harry Clarke

The Irish artist Harry Clarke is probably best known for his edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination, first published in 1919. These intensely detailed illustrations remain some of my favorites for the works of Poe, macabre and lush. 
Clarke's portrait of Poe could be of Roderick Usher. This Rasputinish expression turns up on most of Clarke's figures, as if expressing some madness barely contained.
In his day, he was known for his incredible stained glass, and this tendency toward burning gazes shows up even in Clarke's saints and angels.
It is easy to see his influence on modern illustration, especially graphic novels - the use of big, black space reminds me of Mike Mignola's work, for instance.
                Harry Clarke died young, most likely from exposure to the chemicals of his art. He left behind a legacy of imaginative darkness that is still shaping the art of the 21st century, more than 80 years after his death.

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