The Chazen Museum of Art is set to bring fantasy and science fiction works from the Korshak collection to the Leslie and Johanna Garfield Galleries on Nov. 17.
The Chazen’s own Drew Stevens served as curator of this exhibition, after working with collector Stephen Korshak to select works that reflect prevalent themes and periods.
“He offered us anything out of his collection to construct an exhibition with, so I was able to choose those things that I thought would make a coherent exhibition,” Stevens said.
Stevens sought to show the development of illustration over centuries through the diversity of works from Korshak’s collection. The works seen in the final exhibit descend from Europe and America spanning from the beginning of the 20th century through this century, Stevens said.
The exhibit also features diversity in mediums and features works including oil paintings, watercolor paintings, ink drawings and charcoal drawings.
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“They’re thematically related, but the styles change a lot depending on where and when they were made, and who they were made by,” Stevens said.
While Stevens expressed that Korshak’s collection was strongest in American science fiction art from the 1910s-1960s, he said it was noticeable that Korshak put care into having a diverse collection.
Korshak’s admiration for science fiction and fantasy art stemmed from his childhood roots, Stevens said. Korshak’s father was a publisher in Chicago for Shasta Publishers — a small, emerging company centered on science fiction literature. Because of this, many of the first pieces of his collection were pieces his father published.
“It starts with the experience of having these things hanging in his bedroom, and become interested and seeking them out and developing this collection over quite a few years,” Stevens said.
Korshak’s inclination towards American sci-fi of that period may be in large part him paying homage to his father, and the original copies of works his father passed down to him.
From the illustrations that lined his bedroom walls to an extensive collection of original works spanning centuries, Korshak paid tribute to an art style often seen in niche books or comics as opposed to galleries. The exhibition shows the ways in which fantasy and science fiction act as serious art forms, through their development and history.
“This is art that’s rarely seen in museums. And yet, it’s art that a lot of people are actually quite familiar with,” Stevens said.
The familiarity in the works feels welcoming to viewers of all backgrounds, in a way that mystifies and enchants. The exhibit provides a visual landscape for onlookers to experience generations of imaginative characters and scenes.
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The works from the Korshak Collection are all original pieces of both popular and rare works. This provides attendees the unique opportunity to view these original pieces they otherwise may not have been able to see.
“Again, they reproduce some of them hundreds and hundreds of times, but these are not reproductions,” Stevens said. “These are the things the artists made that the reproductions are made from.”
Due to this fact, Stevens encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity to view glimpses into the past, and the development of science fiction and fantasy illustration at large.
The exhibition will debut following an opening lecture and reception on Thursday. The lecture, held by Department of English assistant professor Ramzi Fawaz, will address superheroes, comic illustration and American culture starting at 5:30 p.m.
The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., and provide attendees with refreshments, live music and a cash bar.
“Fantastic Illustration from the Korshak Collection” can be viewed at the museum until February 4.