This is the "Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art," and
it's hard to argue. It's a spectacular compendium spanning many categories
and genres, all with a fantasy base.
The book makes a good coffee table book and I'm sure
anyone with even a passing interest in art would enjoy it, but it does
seem to be designed for the hardcore fantasy/sci-fi fans. The book features
many staples of that genre - dragons, superheroes, and tons of beautiful,
half-naked amazons. Its categories range from book covers to "dimensional" art
- statues and figures. Almost all of the works are commercial, although
some are previously unpublished. Some feature well-known characters such
as Batman and The Crow.
Whenever I browse this type of illustration, I tend
to group the works into three categories - three different ways I enjoy
a piece. One is to admire the sheer overpowering skill some of the artists
have in specific media, from airbrush to Photoshop. These works are highly
detailed and appear photographic. The second feature, a natural in fantasy
art, is the imagination on display. Many of these works steer clear of
the predictable and come up with completely outrageous, ingenious concepts.
Lastly, as an artist I enjoy the works that are very artistic and painterly
- rough, sketchy works that show freshness and realism. The best works
in this book, of course, are those that satisfy all three of these criteria.
The picture here is by Adam Hughes, an incredible
artist known for his comic book cover art.