1900 (Dupont, Pennsylvania)
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action illustrator, pulp fiction, educator
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Rudolph Belarski (1900-1983), noted for "pulp fiction" and paperback
detective images, was said to be "the perfect paperback artist" in the
mid 1950s by art editor Ken Stuart, of The Saturday Evening Post.
Belarski was fast, could produce a cover overnight, did 'idea
pictures', which had symbols in the background such as angels when a
plane crash was shown, and numerous action-packed black and white
interior illustrations with gouache. |
Belarski's illustration career began in the 1920s, with the pioneering days of
American aviation and work he did for the publication called Wings. His best-remembered subjects, however, came along
with the crime story fascination in the 1930s as portrayed in the detective magazine Black Mask: voluptuous dames in
distress mixing it up with square-jawed detectives and thugs. His
science-fiction subjects of this same time were perceived as astonishingly
convincing with titles such as Minions of the Moon and Escape on Venus. His futurist constructions of the 25th century adapted microphones,
lawn mowers and hubcaps as elements. A great lover of camping and
fishing, Belarski also painted a number of covers for Outdoor Life.
master at building suspense through figure, perspective and color,
Belarski dazzled the newsstand browser with pictorial headlines of
vital action scenes pertaining to the inside story. In
doing so, he sold magazines and books to a drama-craving audience, and
propelled publishing's mass markets, thus infiltrating American minds
with the trends and fashions of pop culture. When the demand for
pulp fiction subsided after World War II, he transitioned to
paperbacks, creating over fifty covers for Popular Library.
He also adjusted his working methods over the years, first doing large
canvases in the 1920s, tighter compositions in the 1930s, and then
flexible paperback covers with methods to fit the
assignment---something he felt limited his creativity.
was born in Dupont, Pennsylvania into a large family of Polish
immigrants. At age twelve, he began working in coal mines as a
slate picker and mule driver. He would draw on walls, and
noticing his talent, the foreman put him to work making safety posters
to warn the miners. When he was nineteen, he went to New York
City and studied art at Pratt Institute but returned to his hometown in
the summers to finish his grade school education. After
graduating from Pratt, he stayed on as a teacher. Years later, in
1957, he joined the faculty of the Famous Artists School in Westport
and remained there until his retirement in 1973.
He died at age eighty three on Christmas Eve, 1983.
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, p. 261
Robert Lesser, Pulp Art, p. 170
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