I have a special affinity for the artwork of Mort Kunstler (an American historical artist born in 1931), or to be more specific, with the Pulp-Fiction segment of his portfolio. As a child of the 1960’s, I grew up with this highly- stylised, bold and graphic configuration of artwork in both magazines and comics (albeit sans the ‘naughty’ attribute!). Mr. Kunstler excells at pulp; his work celebrates the dramatic aspect of this genre to perfection and it often features that peculiarly-1960’s pop-culture phenomenon the secret agent (very much in the James Bond mode – although here it is ‘Americanised’) complete with the prerequisite ‘Bad-Girls’ and ‘Loose-Women’). The figures in these paintings are mostly depicted in sprawling, incendiary, dynamic and highly-eroticised compositions and couldn’t be more different to Mort Kunstler’s work today, for (since the early 1980s) Mr. Kunstler has become acknowledged as the preeminent artist of the American Civil War. He was born in 1931 and attended Brooklyn College, U.C.L.A. and the Pratt Institute, where he studied art.In his early career in New York, in 1953, he provided the covers for several ‘Classics Illustrated’ stories (a comic book series presenting visual adaptions of such literary classics as ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘Robinson Crusoe’).Mort Kunstler went on to create artwork and covers for many pulp-fiction paper-backs and men’s magazines of the day, sometimes using the ‘pen-names’ Martin Kay and Emmett Kaye, as well as producing artwork for leading advertising companies.Over the last sixty years, his work has provided a living, breathing, humanised, vividly-coloured and stylishly-dramatic representation of American history and popular-culture without peers; overtime he has become one of the most collected, loved and treasured artists in America’s history and has recorded more of that country’s historical events on canvas than any other artist.For this ‘House Of Retro’ feature I have chosen to concentrate on the Pulp-Fiction element of Mort Kunstler’s portfolio (an arena in which he excells and so masterfully portrays).Mort’s work within the ‘Pulp’ category is so engaging; he effortlessly draws the viewer into the scene with explosive colour, style and above all, EXCITEMENT – the drama just drips off his brush and on to the canvas with seemingly impossible-finesse and to endlessly awesome effect!
MORT KUNSTLER ARTWORK ©copyright MORT KUNSTLER.
‘MORT KUNSTLER – GUNS, GALS & GUNG-HO!’ ARTICLE TEXT ©copyright Gary Alston 2013.