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Grorge Rozen
George Rozen, Dead Man’s Chest, The Shadow, Fall 1948, oil on canvas, collection of Robert Lesser

Pulp Art: The Robert Lesser Collection
Oct. 26 - Dec. 30, 2007

Robert Lesser began collecting pulp paintings, comic books, and comic-character toys in the 1950s. As a student at the University of Chicago, Lesser’s literature studies combined with his fascination with popular culture kindled his interest in studying and collecting pulp art and comic memorabilia. Lesser now owns 750 pulp paintings and an extensive collection of robots and space toys. In 1975 he wrote A Celebration of Comic Art and Memorabilia, an informational collectors guide; in 1997 he published Pulp Art: Original Cover Paintings for the Great American Pulp Magazines, a full-color collection of pulp paintings and history that includes expert interpretation. “Pulp Art” will be sold in the Museum Shop to accompany the exhibition.

The style of artwork created for pulp magazines is often compared to Norman Rockwell’s cover designs for the “Saturday Evening Post,” but the character of the paintings was quite disparate from Rockwell’s jovial depictions of everyday life. Pulp Art flaunted unsettling images of violence, racism, sex, and crime. The publishing houses that produced pulp fiction such as Popular Publications, Street & Smith, Condé Nast, and Frank A. Munsey Company destroyed much of the artwork produced for the magazines after printing. The offensive images weren’t suitable for display in homes or museums so artists and auctioneers deemed them worthless. Tens of thousands of pulp paintings were created, out of which only a survive today.



 

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