Pulp Fiction Paintings: Selections from the Robert Lesser Collection

pulpThis exhibition contains 37 paintings from the Robert Lesser Collection of Pulp Fiction Art and is on loan from the New Britain Museum of American Art. The collection is a promised gift to The New Britain Museum. The paintings, roughly 30” x 40”, were done as covers to the “pulp fiction” genre of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The subject matter includes adventure, mystery, science fiction, war, and westerns. Tarzan and the Shadow are two protagonists that are well known today.

The narratives, developed specifically for a male audience during the tough times of the Depression and the World Wars, offer an easy, morally absolute and inexpensive escape for the working class. Over the top heroism and stereotypes prevail – the ravishing woman is the victim; the enemy is an outsider – deviant, grotesque or racially different. The hero is muscular and handsome or squeaky clean.

The covers for pulp fiction books or “dime novels” are also over the top – made even more graphic than the text to catch the reader’s eye on the newsstand in a competitive market. Great imagination went into the designs, creating a kind of short-cut narrative of what is inside, exaggerated for the greatest emotional impact. The influence of pulp fiction is vast, seen in the development of later forms of detective and science fiction literature, super heroes, and film noir. The hyper-American imagery was later taken up by the Pop Artists of the Sixties.

After buying his first painting of the Shadow Lesser says, “I began to realize, my God, for these little ten-cent pulps, they had magnificent oil paintings for the cover art. I was amazed how great some of it was, how well trained these artists were.”

 

Opening Reception

 Thursday, September 15 2011

7:30 – 8 pm

Nott Memorial

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Movie Night

SCIENCE FICTION: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Thursday, September 22 2011

8pm – 2am

Reamer Campus Center Auditorium

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Movie Night

FILM NOIR: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Thursday, September 15 2011

8 pm – 2 am

Reamer Campus Center Auditorium

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