From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Fantastic art is an art genre. The parameters of fantastic art have been tentatively defined in the scholarship on the subject ever since the 19th century. However, the genre had to wait for the inter war period to be mentioned by name at the "Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism" exhibition of winter 1936/1937 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which displayed pre-surrealist works such as The Titan's Goblet by Thomas Cole.
Fantasy has been an integral part of art since its beginnings, but has been particularly important in mannerism, magic realist painting, romantic art, symbolism, surrealism and lowbrow. In French, the genre is called le fantastique, in English it is sometimes referred to as visionary art, grotesque art or mannerist art. It has had a deep and circular interaction with fantasy literature.
Fantastic art explores fantasy, "space fantasy" (a sub-genre which incorporates subjects of alien mythology and/or alien religion), imagination, the dream state, the grotesque, visions and the uncanny, as well as so-called "Goth" art. Being an inherent genre of Victorian Symbolism, modern fantastic art often shares its choice of themes such as mythology, occultism and mysticism, or lore and folklore, and generally seeks to depict the [inner life] (nature of soul and spirit).
Historic artists and fine artists
Middle Ages and Renaissance
The first "fantastic" artist is generally said to be Hieronymus Bosch. Other medieval and Renaissance artists who have been labeled fantastic include Matthias Grünewald, Hans Baldung Grien, Brueghel and Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
In Italy, the fashion for grotesque art starts.
But also sets of ornamental prints such as Les costumes grotesques et les métiers (c. 1695) by Nicolas de Larmessin II and Mascarade à la Grecque (1771) by Ennemond Alexandre Petitot and the fantastic architecture of Étienne-Louis Boullée, Claude Nicolas Ledoux and Jean-Jacques Lequeu.
In the United States in the 1930s, a group of Wisconsin artists inspired by the Surrealist movement of Europe created their own brand of fantastic art. They included Madison, Wisconsin-based artists Marshall Glasier, Dudley Huppler and John Wilde; Karl Priebe of Milwaukee and Gertrude Abercrombie of Chicago. Their art combined macabre humor, mystery and irony which was in direct and pointed contradiction to the American Regionalism then in vogue.
In postwar Chicago the art movement Chicago Imagism produced many fantastic and grotesque paintings, which were little noted because they did not conform to New York abstract art fashions of the time. Major imagists include Roger Brown, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Karl Wirsum.
The historiography of fantastic art began when the Surrealists started to inspect their roots and drew up a list of their predecessors, see Proto-Surrealism.
- L'art fantastique (1961) - Marcel Brion
- Au cœur du fantastique (1965) - Roger Caillois
- Dreamers of Decadence: Symbolist Painters of the 1890s (1969) - Philippe Jullian
- Quatre siècles de Surréalisme (1973) by Pierre Belfond
- The Occult in Art (1990) - Owen S. Rachleff
- Les peintres du fantastique (1996) - André Barret
- Alchemy in art and entertainment
- Dream art
- Grotesque art
- Fantastic Art Centre
- Society for the Art of Imagination