I have long been familiar with the haunting romanticism of Deborah Turbeville’s fashion photography, and have often lost myself in their eerie atmospheres and spectral moods– elegant ghost stories, and hazy hallucinations of antique decadence, beloved and perfect, all.
I had never seen until tonight, though, her 1981 series Unseen Versailles:
“In the late 1970s, Turbeville was living in Paris. She discovered the Château de Versailles, but was refused access for a fashion shoot. Fortunately, thanks to Jackie Kennedy Onassis – an admirer and a friend! – she was finally granted permission to photograph the estate during its renovation. She spent a whole winter there and presented her work in a book, Unseen Versailles, in 1981.” (via)
The photographer went in search of unused, unaltered rooms, scattering their floors with autumn leaves to emphasize the chambers’ abandonment and neglect. The result–a haunting vision of this excessive place, a ghostly evocation of memory and melancholic magics in those long-waiting derelict, dust-shrouded and twilight chambers.
It must have been fate. Born eleven days apart on opposite coasts, Leo and Diane met, competed artistically, and eventually fell in love while attending Parsons School of Design, each aspiring to a life of art. After their marriage in 1957, the artists initially pursued separate careers in illustration before recognizing their strengths were collaborative in nature. In an effort to work in a particular style that they both could master, they symbiotically and seamlessly melded their personalities and styles, employing pastels, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, stencils, typography, woodcut, pochoir, found-object assemblage, collage, and sculpture into an entity/partnership that they came to refer to as “the artist.”
Noted Leo on the gorgeously striking complexity of their distinctive decorative realism and unconventional techniques: “People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”
The Dillons became famous in the science fiction community for their imaginative and incredible variety of drawings and illustrations for prints, book jackets, textbooks, album covers; the books of authors such as Ray Bradbury, Garth Nix, and Isaac Asimov were all embellished with cover art revealing “the artist’s” unique vision. The Dillons were presented with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1971, making Diane the first woman to receive the award. Outside the world of fantasy and science fiction, the Dillons became renowned for their numerous children’s picture books celebrated for illustrating stories featuring all ethnicities and cultural heritages–for which they received unprecedented back-to-back Caldecott Medals.
Hello, fans of moody art capturing the morbid, melancholic, and macabre! Here’s something fun!
Pre-order your copy of The Art of Darkness by August 31 from any retailer and be one of the first 100 readers to enter your information into the Quarto form and you’ll receive a lovely thank-you-package including a The Art of Darkness postcard, sticker, and autographed bookplate from me, the author! Link in comments!
Well, hello friends of midnight shadows and all that lurk in those murky corners! It is cover reveal day for THE ART OF DARKNESS: A TREASURY OF THE MORBID, MELANCHOLIC AND MACABRE.
I am so extremely-over-the-moon thrilled with the somber, surreal, multi-layered magnificence of Alex Eckman-Lawn’s cover art–it’s really a dream come true for this artist’s incredible work to be gracing the cover of a book that I’ve written. Aside from the cover art, I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to work with SO MANY DREAM ARTISTS to include in these pages!
So, what else can you expect to find this the pages of this darkly artful tome?
Throughout history, artists have been obsessed with darkness – creating works that haunt and horrify, mesmerize and delight and play on our innermost fears. While these themes might scare us – can’t they also be heartening and beautiful? In exploring and examining these evocative artworks The Art of Darkness offers insight into each artist’s influences and inspirations, asking what comfort can be found in facing our demons? Why are we tempted by fear and the grotesque? And what does this tell us about the human mind?
Of course, sometimes there is no good that can come from the tenebrous sensibilities of darkness and the sickly shivers and sensations they evoke. These are uncomfortable feelings, and we must sit for a while with these shadows – with a book, from the safety of our armchairs.
The Art of Darkness and all of its dreamy, disturbing gloomy glimpses will be released into the world on September 6, 2022! Stay tuned for more details.