A New Book Makes the Case That Fantasy Art Is America’s Least Understood Fine-Art Form—See the Wild Images Here

Dragons, sexy maidens, and epic sword fights are getting the fine-art treatment in Masterpieces of Fantasy Art, Taschen’s new 532-page illustrated tome celebrating the genre.

Lest you think fantasy art is nothing more than a lightweight endeavor, the massive volume weighs a hefty 16 pounds. Tracing the evolution of the genre from 1400 to the present, it showcases the works of Old Masters Jan Van Eyck and Hieronymus Bosch as well as contemporary heavy-hitters like H.R. Giger, Frank Frazetta, and Boris Vallejo.

“Since fantasy art is largely created as work for hire, no matter how talented the artist,” author Dian Hanson writes, “it has always been accessible, displayed prominently on the newsstand, to its advantage and curse.” The genre’s predilection for provocative, sexualized scenes has also hurt its credibility among the art-world cognoscenti—not to mention that the mass-produced fantasy books were literally printed on cheap pulp paper in the 20th century.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933528" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here.jpg" alt="Frank Frazetta, Egyptian Queen (1969). This painting set the auction record for the most expensive original work of comic art with a $5.4 million sale in 2018. Courtesy of Frank Frazetta from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”787″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here.jpg 787w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-13.jpg 231w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-14.jpg 38w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-15.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 787px) 100vw, 787px”>

Frank Frazetta, Egyptian Queen (1969). This painting set the auction record for the most expensive original work of comic art with a $5.4 million sale in 2018. Courtesy of Frank Frazetta from Taschen’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

Hanson amassed more than 100 superlative examples of this oft-misunderstood form for the book. The compilation speaks to the genre’s considerable appeal—which has also translated into impressive art-market success. Original Frazetta oil paintings have sold for as much as $5.4 million. The book’s cover image, Frazetta’s Princess of Mars (197), fetched $1.2 million at Dallas’s Heritage Auctions in September.

“With the rise of online auction houses, nontraditional collectors are tempted to buy what they want, rather than what a gallerist advises, letting the old medial orbitofrontal cortex do the choosing,” Hanson writes. “And once you turn those pleasure centers loose, let’s face it: Most of us are going to go with those colorful, dynamic works of fantasy that make us all feel so much better.”

See more artwork from the book below.

Masterpieces of Fantasy Art by Dian Hanson. Courtesy of TASCHEN.

Masterpieces of Fantasy Art by Dian Hanson. Cover art The Princess of Mars (1970) by Frank Frazetta. Courtesy of Frank Frazetta Courtesy of TASCHEN.

<img class="wp-image-1933875 size-full" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-2.jpg" alt="Ed Emshwiller, cover for Startling Stories (1954). Courtesy of Ed Emshwiller from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”772″ height=”1003″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-2.jpg 772w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-19.jpg 231w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-20.jpg 38w” sizes=”(max-width: 772px) 100vw, 772px”>

Ed Emshwiller, cover for Startling Stories (1954). Courtesy of Ed Emshwiller from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933526" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-3.jpg" alt="Julie Bell, Victory Fight (2007). Courtesy of Julie Bell from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”748″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-3.jpg 748w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-21.jpg 219w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-22.jpg 37w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-23.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 748px) 100vw, 748px”>

Julie Bell, Victory Fight (2007). Courtesy of Julie Bell from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1933527" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-4.jpg" alt="Philippe Druillet, mural for Angouleme, France (1985). Courtesy of Philippe Druillet from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”960″ height=”576″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-4.jpg 960w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-24.jpg 300w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-25.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px”>

Philippe Druillet, mural for Angouleme, France (1985). Courtesy of Philippe Druillet from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1933529" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-5.jpg" alt="The Brother's Hildebrandt, Smaug’s Lair (1976). Courtesy of the Brother’s Hildebrandt from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”960″ height=”724″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-5.jpg 960w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-26.jpg 300w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-27.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px”>

The Brother’s Hildebrandt, Smaug’s Lair (1976). Courtesy of the Brother’s Hildebrandt from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933530" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-6.jpg" alt="Jeffrey Catherine Jones, At Night (aka Want Eyes) (1975). Courtesy of Jeffrey Catherine Jones from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”781″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-6.jpg 781w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-28.jpg 229w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-29.jpg 38w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-30.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 781px) 100vw, 781px”>

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, At Night (aka Want Eyes) (1975). Courtesy of Jeffrey Catherine Jones from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1933531" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-7.jpg" alt="Rodney Matthews, The Heavy Metal Hero (1985). Courtesy of Rodney Matthews from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”960″ height=”676″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-7.jpg 960w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-31.jpg 300w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-32.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px”>

Rodney Matthews, The Heavy Metal Hero (1985). Courtesy of Rodney Matthews from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933532" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-8.jpg" alt="Rowena Morrill, King Dragon (1980). Courtesy of Rowena Morrill from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”639″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-8.jpg 639w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-33.jpg 187w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-34.jpg 31w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-35.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 639px) 100vw, 639px”>

Rowena Morrill, King Dragon (1980). Courtesy of Rowena Morrill from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="wp-image-1933876 size-full" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-9.jpg" alt="Sanjulian, Queen of the Black Coast. Courtesy of Sanjulian and Heritage Auctions from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”711″ height=”1002″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-9.jpg 711w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-36.jpg 213w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-37.jpg 35w” sizes=”(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px”>

Sanjulian, Queen of the Black Coast. Courtesy of Sanjulian and Heritage Auctions from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933534" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-10.jpg" alt="Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, Jeannie’s Kitten (2013). Courtesy of Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”725″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-10.jpg 725w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-38.jpg 213w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-39.jpg 35w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-40.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 725px) 100vw, 725px”>

Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, Jeannie’s Kitten (2013). Courtesy of Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="wp-image-1933891 size-full" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-11.jpg" alt="Sanjulian, Queen of the Black Coast. Courtesy of Sanjulian and Heritage Auctions from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”634″ height=”1002″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-11.jpg 634w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-41.jpg 190w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-42.jpg 32w” sizes=”(max-width: 634px) 100vw, 634px”>

Sanjulian, Queen of the Black Coast. Courtesy of Sanjulian and Heritage Auctions from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

<img class="size-large wp-image-1933538" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-12.jpg" alt="Petar Meseldzija, The Legend of Steel Bashaw 9 (2001). Courtesy of Petar Meseldzija, from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.” width=”711″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-12.jpg 711w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-43.jpg 208w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-44.jpg 35w, https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/a-new-book-makes-the-case-that-fantasy-art-is-americas-least-understood-fine-art-form-see-the-wild-images-here-45.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px”>

Petar Meseldzija, The Legend of Steel Bashaw 9 (2001). Courtesy of Petar Meseldzija, from TASCHEN’s Masterpieces of Fantasy Art.

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