New Britain Museum of American Art to Receive Robert Lesser Pulp Art Collection

. May 18, 2013

The New Britain Museum of American Art is to receive the Robert Lesser Pulp Art Collection. Numbering nearly 200 works and valued at $9 million, Lesser’s donation is accompanied by a fund of $1.3 million for maintenance, conservation, and future publications.

Alexander Leydenfrost (1888–1961), U.S. Blimp Sinks Nazi Sub, Esquire, November 1943, Oil on canvas, New Britain Museum of American Art.

Alexander Leydenfrost (1888–1961), U.S. Blimp Sinks Nazi Sub, Esquire, November 1943, Oil on canvas, New Britain Museum of American Art.

Born in the 1930s, the height of pulp novels’ and magazines’ popularity, Robert Lesser was no stranger to the genre from a very young age. Lesser’s own father was an avid reader of one of the first pulp magazines, Argosy. The Depression era sparked immense interest in pulp fiction, as it provided an inexpensive form of entertainment and escape for an economically deprived generation. Western, romance, adventure, war, crime, and science-fiction stories were brought to life by daring, sometimes politically-incorrect and often racy illustrations. Through dramatic perspective, compressed composition, and vibrant, contrasting color, artists skillfully made the action “pop,” distracting buyers from the poor paper quality. Consumed by the masses, (they sold by the millions for 10 to 25 cents a piece), pulps launched the careers of authors such as Agatha Christie, Isaac Asimov, Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury, and classically trained artists-turned-illustrators Margaret Brundage, Norman Saunders, and N.C. Wyeth.

Category: Fine Art

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