Sunday, August 1, 2010
Complex line and thought; Frank Papé
Here's a fellow not likely to show up on your" best of the best" lists, and perhaps not likely to get his own gallery filled book, but someone who did some incredible work, line and color. I first found the work of Frank Cheyne Papé (1878-1972) while scouring titles for a compilation book. I've begun to keep an eye open for more, and when examined on a whole, it is a bit surprising that his was not a better known name.
The first thing one will find while looking for info on Frank Papé is back on the Bud Plant/Vadeboncoeur illustrators list—and it's as good a foundation as you're likely to dig up. Born in 1878, Papé was 22 in 1900, putting him in prime position to take advantage of the publishing rush of the Golden Age. His earlier work, in the 19-teens, seems to have been peppered with the Fairy-tale work that was prevalent at the time. The first two color pieces here, from A Russian Story Book, are from 1916—and show some mature and refined color sense. A few years later in 1921, Papé had some line work printed with James Branch Cabell's Jurgen. This wild tale involved a time traveler's exploits with various women through time and history—it was wild for the time, and quite controversial. The near banning of the book, combined with the quality of the fine line art, made the book a huge success when it finally made it to market. The attention given to Papé's work there was considerable, and it's acclaim steered Papé to stick with line as his signature style for years to come. The last two are from Tales from Shakespeare, and feature that same line style, and an unusual multicolor printing on a few plates as well.
In his later years, sometime after 1935, he appeared to have settled into the security of a staff job, art directing for a children's magazine in Chicago. Some brilliant stuff, and I'm sure there's more to be seen-