Heroes & Villans: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross

November 10, 2012 - February 24, 2013

 



 

Exhibition Labels

 
Alex Ross
Golden Age Green Lantern and Golden Age Flash 2000
Preliminary Sketch for Golden Age Green Lantern and Golden Age Flash
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Doctor Fate and Spectre 2000
Preliminary Sketch for Doctor Fate and Spectre
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Green Arrow and Black Canary 2000
Preliminary Sketch for Green Arrow and Black Canary
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Red Tornado 2000
Preliminary Sketch for Red Tornado
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Batman: Knight Over Gotham 1999
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Lynette Ross
Bat-Lady 1940s
Pencil on paper, drawing by Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Alex Ross
Supperheroes 1974
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Captain Marvel 1985
Colored pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Captain Marvel 1974
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Plastic Man Comic Book 1983
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Plastic Man Comic Book 1980
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
The Avengers 1983
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
The X-Men 1983
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
All Existing Versions of Superman 1983
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Human Torch Origin Story 1994
Illustration for Marvels (pages 2-6, 12)
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Lynette Ross
Travel 1950s
Gouache on paper, painting by Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Lynette Ross
Cigarettes 1950s
Gouache on paper, painting by the Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Lynette Ross
Cocktail 1950s
Gouache on paper, painting by Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Lynette Ross
Suds 1950s
Gouache on paper, painting by Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Lynette Ross
Labels 1950s
Gouache on paper, painting by Alex Ross's mother
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Alex Ross
Marvels #1 1994
Cover illustration for Marvels #1
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Spider-Man Mask Model n.d
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Preliminary cover illustration for Justice
Pencil on paper
Collection of the Artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Preliminary ink test for Justice
Ink on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Color marker test for Justice
Marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice #1 Heroes 2005
Cover illustration for Justice #1 Heroes
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice #1 Villains 2005
Justice #1 Villains variant cover
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Color marker test for Justice
Marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Preliminary cover illustration for Justice
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Color marker rough for Justice
Marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Batman Mask Model
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Green Lantern 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Superman 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Batman 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Wonder Woman 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Flash 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Tango with Evil 2003
Reference photographs
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
The Wicked Witch of the West 2008
Preliminary drawing for The Wicked Witch of the West
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
The Wicked Witch of the West 2008
Preliminary color test The Wicked Witch of the West
Marker on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Absolute Kingdom Come 2006
Wallpaper blow-up
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Spidey 1974
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Detective Comics #860 2009
Preliminary drawing for Detective Comics #860
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Andrew Loomis (1829-1959)
Underwater Fantasies 1946
Oil on canvas
Collection of Jennifer Loomis
 
Alex Ross
Robin and Batman 1977
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Jim Krueger and Alex Ross
Justice: Absolute Edition 2006
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2005
Studies for Justice based on model sheets from Super Friends
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Justice Society of America
Comic books featuring cover art by Alex Ross, 2007-2010
Collection of New Dimension Comics
 
DC Archive Edition Books
Featuring the covers of the first appearances of Superman, Batman, and
Wonder Woman, reinterpreted by Alex Ross for Kingdom Come
 
Alex Ross
Reference photographs for Alex Ross's Batman, Captain Marvel, and
Superman paintings 2003
Collection of the artist
 
Steve Darnall and Alex Ross
Uncle Sam: Deluxe Edition 2009
 
Andrew Loomis (1829-1959)
Fun with a Pencil 1939
Creative Illustration 1947
Successful Drawing 1951
Drawing the Head & Hands 1956
Collection of Jennifer Loomis
 
Andrew Loomis (1829-1959)
Figure Drawing for All It's Worth 1943
 
Wonder Woman Merchandise
From the personal collection of Andy Warhol
 
James Montgomery Flagg
Uncle Sam: I Want You for the U.S. Army 1917
Reproduction World War I Poster
 
Source Material for Andy Warhol's Comic Book Paintings
From the personal collection of Andy Warhol
 
Alex Ross
Justice Vol. 1-3 2006
Batman 2008
Cover illustrations by Alex Ross
Couurtesy of New Dimension Comics
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Uncle Sam 1981
Facsimile of an original Polaroid Polacolor 2
Contribution of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
2001.2.1536
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Margaret Hamilton 1980
Gelatin silver print
Founding Collection, Contribution of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
2001.2.146
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Witch 1980
Polaroid Polacolor 2
Founding Collection,
Contribution of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.2452.4
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Untitled (Popeye) 1961
Watercolor, graphite, and newspaper on paper
Founding Collection,
Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.2303
 
Alex Ross
Superman 2002
Lithograph
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Batman 2001
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
"It's difficult working on Batman because so much has already been done with him," said Ales Ross. "The challenge is to bring something new to the character that doesn't feel forced or illogical. And the movies have gone so over the top with effects, gadgets, glitz, etc. So I went low-tech with him, and took steps they wouldn't-the fact that, in the films, he has all his riches so conspicuously displayed, to me, runs counter to hiding his identity. My approach is to not show any of the trappings, as was the case with the very first version of him in 1939-no Batmobile, no Batplane. I love all that stuff, but it takes the focus away from the character himself, which is what interests me. It should all be a mystery: nobody even knows if he has a plane because no one's ever seen it. He has a rope, an unmarked car, a few crude weapons. He just appears, which is even scarier."
- Alex Ross
 
Iron Man Mask Model
Chrome
Collection of the artist
 
Iron Man debuted in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963), in which billionaire inventor and capitalist Tony Stark is kidnapped and forced to build advanced weaponry. Instead of working for his captors, Stark secretly constructed the Iron Man suit. Stark's invention gave him superhuman strength and the ability to fly, which allowed him to escape from his kidnappers.
 
Tony Stark later perfected the suit of armor by installing weapons, such as "repulsor rays" and "pulse bolts," and vowed to help save the world from the threat of communism. Stark's character and appearance were based on billionaire playboy Howard Hughes. Iron Man was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, writer Larry Lieber, and artist Don Heck. "Artistically I'm most drawn to things that I knew before, meaning things I grew up with-their designs and their history for the first 50 years or so before a lot of redesigning happens," said the artist.
 
Alex Ross
Justice Society of America #26 2009
Cover illustration for Justice Society of America #26
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The Justice Society of America was introduced by DC Comics editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox in the Winter 1940 edition of All Star Comics #3. Composed of the best and brightest superheroes, upon the suggestion of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Justice Society united to fight the Nazis during World War II. Notable as the first superhero team-up, the Justice Society continued to fight common enemies through the 1940s.
 
Members have included (Golden Age) Flash, (Golden Age) Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, Hawkman, Atom, the Spectre, Mister Terrific, Wildcat, Red Tornado, Cyclone, Starman, and Liberty Belle.
- Alex Ross
 
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash,
Aquaman, and Hawkman
Action figures 1981
Construction paper, ink, and tape
Collection of the artist
 
Long before Alex Ross created intricate gouache paintings and mass-produced action figures, he prepared crayon drawings and home-made paper dolls. At 11 years old, Alex brought life to comic book superheroes using construction paper and Scotch tape. For someone so young, these painstakingly cut, taped, and illustrated dolls demonstrate an exceptional focus and dedication, and a tremendous love of superheroes. In Ross's first forays into sculpture, no detail is spared-from Hawkman's helmet to the carefully cut emblems on their chests-each character's trademark look and personality is revealed just as in the artist's most recent action figures.
- Alex Ross
 
Marvels 1994
Hardcover dust jacket illustration for Marvels
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
An android created by Professor Phineas T. Horton in 1939, the Human Torch burst into flames when first exposed to oxygen. Upon gaining human emotions, the Human Torch rebelled against his creator and learned to use his powers of controlling fire to fight evil. Created by artist Carl Burgos, the Human Torch's first appearance was in Marvel Comics #1 (October 1939). An unrelated character, also named Human Torch, would join the Fantastic Four in 1961.
 
"Showing a realistic Human Torch was my first inspiration for Marvels," recalled the artist. "After shooting my model in extreme contrast, I took the negative out to study how light might appear to be coming from within a body. I also set a lot of stuff on fire and photographed that, too, until I fully understood the process."
- Lynette Ross
 
Costume 1950s
Gouache on paper
Collection of Alex Ross
 
Alex Ross's mother, Lynette Ross, studied art at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in the late 1940s, forty years before Alex would also attend. Mrs. Ross then began work as a successful freelance illustrator of women's fashions in Chicago in the early 1950s.
 
Only a few years after finding her niche as a commercial artist, Mrs. Ross retired to fulfill her longtime wish of starting a family. When Alex's father found full-time work as a minister, she was able to devote her time to her growing family. Upon the request of her young son Alex, Mrs. Ross occasionally drew superheroes such as the Hulk, Thor, and the Vision. The Bat-Lady drawing shown here was created when Mrs. Ross was a student in the 1940s, long before she would have a son who would design and draw such characters for a living.
Thirty years after retiring from the commercial art world, Lynette Ross returned to full-time fashion illustration in Lubbock, Texas, where the family was living when Alex was a teenager. Over the years, she also created a series of paper doll art books for Texas Tech University Press.
 
Alex Ross
Legion of Superheroes 1999
Lithograph
Collection of the artist
 
Launching in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), a group of teenage superheroes from the 30th-century calling themselves the Legion of Super-Heroes idolized Superboy from the 1950s. Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino, Lightning Boy (later Lightning Lad), Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy traveled back through time to ask Superboy to join their group. The Legion of Super-Heroes included other teenaged heroes such as Supergirl, Mon-El, Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Triplicate Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, and Bouncing Boy.
 
"This is one of my single favorite paintings," said Alex Ross. "My particular obsession with Shadow Lass influenced other character designs from my childhood. This wasn't a commissioned piece initially; I just did it because I loved the characters and I was thrilled when the Warner Bros. Studio Stores made it into a giclee print. How can you not love the Legion? They're young, they're idyllic, they gleam with innocent sexuality. It's the superhero comic as college fashion show."
 
Alex Ross
Golden Age Green Lantern and Golden Age Flash 2001
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of the Golden Age of comic books, debuted in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940). In contrast to the better known Silver Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott received his powers from a green ring that originated as a mystical green flame that had fallen to Earth. The ring gives Alan Scott the ability of flight, enables him to move through solid objects, and allows him control over and invulnerability to metals. The ring's power grew rapidly and the Green Lantern can now use it to perform virtually any feat. Green Lantern was created by artist Martin Nodell with the assistance of Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
 
Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, the Golden Age Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). Jay Garrick was a college student who accidentally inhaled radioactive vapors, giving him the ability to run at superhuman speeds. He wears a helmet reminiscent of the Roman god Mercury and, along with Green Lantern Alan Scott, the Golden Age Flash was a founding member of the Justice Society of America. Jay Garrick was succeeded as the Flash by Barry Allen in 1956.
 
Alex Ross
Tango with Evil 1999
Lithograph
Collection of the artist
 
The Joker, Batman's main foe, appeared in the first issue of Batman in Spring 1940. Harley Quinn was created by writer Paul Dini and artist Bruce Timm in 1992 for the television series Batman: The Animated Series. Quinn was a psychologist at Gotham City's Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, where the Joker was often an inmate. She fell in love with the Joker and now aids him during his crimes.
 
Alex Ross recalled that "the idea for the image came from an Arrow Collar ad by J.C. Leyendecker, which I'd seen in an art book I've had for a long time, America's Great Illustrators. I just had to twist the piece to fit the pose and attitude I wanted to give them."
- Alex Ross
 
Captain Marvel 2001
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The works presented here were created by Alex Ross at ages 4, 15, and 31.
 
Alex Ross
Plastic Man 2000
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The works included here were created by Alex Ross at ages 10, 13, and 30.
 
Alex Ross
Spider-Man 1994
Cover illustration for Marvels #4
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross pitched costume designs for the original Spider-Man film (2002), and though they were not ultimately not used, director Sam Raimi brought Ross back to paint the opening sequence of Spider-Man 2 (2004). The Spider-Man seen here was created for the cover of Marvels #4 (April 1994). "I speculated for a while about the cover of issue #4," he said. "I really liked having the eye reflect the scene, but I kept trying to put in something that Spider-Man actually would have seen. All the other covers were literal representations of a scene, and this one isn't-Spider-Man never got this up-close to the Goblin."
 
Alex Ross
Kingdom Come (Spectre) 1996
Illustration for Kingdom Come, Part 1
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Kingdom Come (Norman) 1996
Illustration for Kingdom Come, Part 2
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
Following the critical acclaim and massive sales of Alex Ross's Marvels comic book series, the artist approached DC Comics with a plan to create a similar blockbuster for them. Kingdom Come is set several years in the future-Superman is retired, Wonder Woman has moved away, and a battered Batman controls a Gotham City police state through the use of robot sentinels.
 
Without the moral compass of the world's finest superheroes, a new generation of reckless and self-important superheroes arises, blurring the line between heroes and villains. Sensing a coming apocalypse, the superhero spirit the Spectre asks for the help of Minister Norman McCay (based on the artist's father) to determine the cause of the catastrophe and a solution to end it. Superman reluctantly rejoins his old comrades Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern in an attempt to stop the imminent war between superheroes. "All my life I'd wanted to cast my dad in something-he's got that great Obi-Wan Kenobi face," said the artist. "It seemed perfect to place him in the midst of all these uber-beings because he provides human contrast and humanitarian aspects of faith."
 
Alex Ross
Flash and Green Lantern 2000
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The "Fastest Man Alive," the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) can travel faster than light speed and is able to pass through solid objects by vibrating his molecules. The Flash originated as a police scientist who was splashed with chemicals after a bolt of lightning struck his lab. The reaction caused by the lightning striking the chemicals transformed Barry Allen into the Flash. Conceived by writers Robert Kanigher and John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino, Barry Allen's Flash made his debut in Showcase #4 (October 1956), which marked the beginning of the Silver Age of comic books. The Flash's main enemy is Captain Cold.
 
The best-known Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, was created by writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane during the Silver Age, debuting in Showcase #22 (October 1959). An Air Force test pilot, Jordan was transported to an alien crash site by the force of a green power ring and told by a dying alien (Abin Sur) that he was selected to be his replacement as the Green Lantern (a galactic policeman) for this sector of the universe. Jordan was chosen by the power ring because of his ability to overcome fear. The green power ring gave him the ability of flight and allowed him to physically conjure any object his mind could imagine. Hal Jordan's physical appearance is allegedly modeled after actor Paul Newman, and his main enemy is Sinestro, a former leader of the Green Lantern Corps.
 
Alex Ross
Supergirl and Batgirl 2002
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
"The biggest distinction [between Batgirl and Batman] is that the inside of Batgirl's cape is yellow. But otherwise," said the artist, "she was way ahead of the Dark Knight with her black bodysuit, something he would acquire much later in the movies. She also throws Robin into sharp relief, because she looks so much more like Batman than he doesThis is the version of her costume I first saw in the mid-1970s. There's a sexiness to it that also considers her individuality, as a young woman who wants to fit in on Earth."
 
Alex Ross
Wonder Woman 2002
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross
Grace Kelly ca.1988
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
"I did [the Grace Kelly portrait] to show that I could actually draw a believable likeness without using an opaque projector [which lets you trace a photo]," Alex Ross said. "By completing this and a few other pieces, I achieved this key goal of mine in art school of not needing machine help to do likenesses."
 
Andrew Loomis (1829-1959)
Study for Underwater Fantasies 1946
Charcoal on paper
Collection of Jennifer Loomis
 
A successful illustrator, advertising designer, and lauded author in the first half of the 20th-century, Andrew Loomis had an acute ability to bring focus to commercial products while maintaining the appearance of fine art in his work. He portrayed an idealized America in softly painted scenarios that highlighted the products he was promoting. From beverages to sliced meat, Loomis found ways to create a striking ad. "Art cannot depend upon copy," he said. "It must tell its own story. Advertising has reached a point in its development where tricks are out and we must go back to fundamentals."
 
Loomis published his first book, Fun with a Pencil, in 1939. Although subsequent books built on previous ones, the fundamental lessons in all were the same. He was a firm believer in the expression and style of the individual artist. In addition to Alex Ross, comic book artists Dick Giordano, Steve Rude, and Steve Lieber have cited Loomis as a key influence.
 
Alex Ross
Marvels 1994
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
At the age of 20, Alex Ross began planning the project that would be his splash into the world of comic books. Having completed an independent comic series based on the Terminator franchise, 19-year-old Ross decided to illustrate a detailed pitch for a graphic novel series for Marvel Comics. An anthology-type project, Marvels would show aspects of Marvel Comics' history, starting with the origin of their premiere superhero, the original Human Torch.
 
Before completing his pitch, Ross was contacted by Marvel Comics to produce a short story for another anthology series, Open Space, which was canceled before his contribution was published. Ross's main contact on the project was editor Kurt Busiek, who guided Ross on a path to other freelance work.
Ross eventually returned to Marvel Comics, and once the pitch for Marvels was approved, the story was redesigned to showcase various points in the history of the Marvel Universe, from 1939 to 1973, through the eyes of fictional photographer Phil Sheldon. In Marvels, Sheldon witnesses the birth of the Human Torch in 1939, battles between Captain America and Nazis during World War II, and the creation of superhero teams the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the X-Men in the 1960s.
 
Alex Ross
Crisis on Infinite Earths 1998
Deluxe slipcase edition
Reprint
Collection of the artist
 
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of DC Comics, DC planned a groundbreaking 12-issue comic book event titled Crisis on Infinite Earths. Award-winning writer Marv Wolfman and legendary artist George Perez created a saga through which continuity problems, caused by decades of conflicting alternate realities of comic book characters created by scores of writers, were solved by bringing all of DC's characters to co-exist in one reality.
 
A hardcover version of Crisis on Infinite Earths was released in 2005 with updated cover art. The new art was penciled by the book's original artist, George Perez, and the painting was completed by Alex Ross. Ross's father, a frequent presence in Ross's work, can be found in the bottom row behind Batgirl.
 
Alex Ross
Aquaman, Atom, and Hawkman 2000
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Aquaman's first appearance was in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941). A founding member of the Justice League of America in the 1960
s, Aquaman is the king of the hidden, undersea city of Atlantis. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, Aquaman has superhuman strength, can swim at high speeds, and is able to communicate telepathically with sea creatures.
 
Since Atom's Golden Age debut in 1940, a number of characters have been associated with the name. The Atom represented here is the Silver Age Atom, scientist Ray Palmer, who made his debut in Showcase #34 (October 1961). Originally able to shrink to subatomic size using white dwarf-star matter, the Atom is now able to reduce his size through his physiology. Atom and Hawkman are best friends.
 
Though the Golden Age Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940), the Silver Age Hawkman on display first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #34 (March 1961). Katar Hol was a police officer from the planet Thanagar, who, with his wife Shayera Thal, traveled to Earth while pursuing a criminal. After capturing the transgressor, Katar Hol and Shayera Thal elected to stay on Earth to fight crime as Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the Justice League of America. Hawkman, with his metallic antigravity wings, possesses the power of flight and has superhuman strength.
 
Alex Ross
Angel and Maggie, Marvels #2 1994
Cover illustration for Marvels #2
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
For the cover of Marvels #2, superhero Angel rescues fellow mutant Maggie from a group of anti-mutant rioters. This painting is based on a similar story titled "The Loathsome" from an EC Comics' Weird Science comic book published in July 1953, in which a mutant girl is hunted by a xenophobic mob. Created by Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee and legendary artist Jack Kirby, Angel is one of the founding members of the X-Men, first appearing in X-Men #1 (September 1963).
 
Alex Ross
Avengers Assemble 2010
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
The Avengers were first introduced in September 1963 in Avengers #1. A team-up of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," as the comic book announced, the Avengers consisted of already established Marvel characters. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the rotating roster of superheroes led by Captain America is tasked to take on "the foes no single superhero can withstand."
 
Pictured here are Black Panther, Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, the Wasp, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Goliath.
 
Alex Ross
Kingdom Come 1996
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
This painting, included in Kingdom Come, is an homage to the comic book covers on which Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman first appeared.
 
Queen II 1974
Album cover
 
The cover of the rock band Queen's second album served as the inspiration for JLA: The Original Seven. Based on a publicity shot of legendary actress Marlene Dietrich, the famous pose of Queen's members became iconic after being featured in the music video for their biggest hit, Bohemian Rhapsody (1975).
 
Alex Ross
Action Comics #1 1998
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross reinterpreted Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1 for Warner Bros. Studio Stores in 1998. The painting was ultimately not used, though the painting was later published in an interior page of a milestone edition of DC Comics' Action Comics.
 
Alex Ross
Batman 2008
Cover Studies for Batman R.I.P.
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Ross drew these Batman cover sketches as potential covers for the Batman R.I.P. 6-issue story arc which ran from Batman #676 to Batman #681 in late 2008.
 
Alex Ross
Poster paintings for DC Comics
 
Alex Ross painted portraits of his favorite DC Comics characters, which were intended for reproduction as life-size posters. However, the final product portrayed many of the superheroes cropped from the waist up.
 
Alex Ross
Mythology: Joker 2005
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
The brainchild of Batman co-creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger with artist Jerry Robinson, the character of the Joker first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). Allegedly based on actor Conrad Veidt's performance in the German Expressionist film The Man Who Laughs (1928), the Joker's origin has never been conclusively explained. Some origin stories claim the Joker was a sadistic murderer and thief, while others imply he was an innocent engineer at a chemical plant. All accounts explain, however, that his physical appearance resulted from a fall into a vat of chemicals.
 
During the Golden Age of the 1940s, the Joker was presented as a psychotic criminal mastermind, while during the Silver Age of the 1950s and 1960s he was drawn as a fun-loving prankster. Through the creative push of artist Neal Adams and writer Dennis O'Neil, in the 1970s the Joker was restored to his psychotic persona, which remains to this day. His anti-social behavior was most notable in 1988, during the Dark Age of comic books, when the Joker killed the second Robin, Jason Todd, and crippled Batgirl.
 
Alex Ross
Norman Rockwell n.d.
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Norman Rockwell is one of Alex Ross's most significant artistic influences. Ross, who is often referred to as "the Norman Rockwell of comic books," painted this homage to Rockwell's famous painting, Triple Self-Portrait. "I used to think, 'I want people to look at my comics and feel like they've got Norman Rockwell.' It's the effect of realism, but not necessarily photo-realism."
 
Alex Ross
Justice 2006
Illustration for Justice Vol. 1
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Top row left to right: Metamorpho, Hawkgirl, Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, and Atom.
 
Bottom row left to right: Hawkman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Superman, Green Arrow, Batman, Red Tornado, and Wonder Woman.
 
"This was [inspired] from something I saw Norman Rockwell do, which was a flat compositional style, where all of the figures don't recede in the background and rows of figures are all the same exact size and proportion. So, there's a lack of depth, but part of that is the power of the piece. You get this sense of almost a 'class photo' as you've taken the camera shot from far away of a full grouping of people. But, something of that flatness was very powerful to me when I saw it in illustrations done by Rockwell. He did it in a number of pieces, like his drawing of the United Nations, where the seated Security Council members and the backdrop of people behind them create a strong graphic image. I wanted to emulate that very strongly."
 
J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951)
Illustration for the Arrow Collar Company 1923
 
Alex Ross's Tango with Evil is based this 1923 Arrow Collar advertisement by noted American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker.
 
Alex Ross
The Wicked Witch of the West 2008
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
One of the most famous villains of 20th-century cinema, the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz (1939) is seared into America's consciousness. Alex Ross created his interpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West for MGM Studio's celebration of the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz's film debut. This legendary figure was performed by actress Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985).
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Myths: Superman 1981
Screenprint with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.2452.3
 
Andy Warhol's Superman is based on the work of famous comic book artist Curt Swan, who is best known for defining Superman's appearance from the 1950s to the 1980s.
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Myths: Uncle Sam 1981
 
Screenprint with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.2452.2
 
Andy Warhol hired James Mahoney to pose as Uncle Sam for this selection from his Myths series.
 
Alex Ross
Collectible Superhero Statues
Designed and sculpted by Alex Ross
Collection of the artist
 
Throughout his 20-year career in the comic book industry, Alex Ross has designed scores of action figures and collectible statues, some of which are on loan from his personal collection. Ross's attention to detail sets his action figures apart. As with his paintings, he begins the process by creating meticulous drawings, building the characters from the core outward and using Andrew Loomis's lessons on human proportions. Working with master sculptors Tim Bruckner, Karen Palinko, Mike Locascio, Jean St. Jean, and Adam Beane to create his action figures, Ross captures each character's personality through detailed, hyper-realistic designs. Whether it is a specific costume design like the enlarged bat symbol on Batman's chest, Batgirl's black and yellow cape, or the aged look of Superman, each figure is true to Ross's vision of the characters.
 
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Myths: The Witch 1981
Screenprint with diamond dust on Lenox Museum Board
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
1998.1.2452.4
 
Andy Warhol painted the Wicked Witch for inclusion in his Myths series from 1981. He recruited the original Wicked Witch of the West, actress Margaret Hamilton, to pose for this painting.
 
Frank Bez
Nico and Andy as Batman and Robin 1967
Gelatin silver print
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Museum Purchase
 
Frank Bez has been a commercial photographer and filmmaker for 40 years. He has photographed over 2,000 magazine covers and 500 record covers, and has been the producer or director of over 200 short films and music videos. Bez photographed Nico and Warhol in disguise as Batman and Robin for the August 1966 issue of Esquire magazine.
 
Andy Warhol's Comic Book Collection
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
 
Given Andy Warhol's vital role in using and adapting American popular culture, it seems only natural that he would have an interest in comic books. In fact, Warhol's earliest exhibition of Pop art included paintings of Superman, Popeye and Dick Tracy hung in a window display at the Bonwit Teller department store in 1961. Several of Warhol's comic books are on display here, including ones he bought in the 1930s as a child in Pittsburgh-Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Little Orphan Annie, his favorite. Numerous copies of Batman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Fantastic Four are also on exhibit.
 
Andy Warhol
Excerpts from Batman/ Dracula 1964
Film
Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
 
A lifelong fan of comic books, Andy Warhol began filming Batman/Dracula in July 1964 starring underground filmmaker Jack Smith as Batman. Warhol never finished filming and editing the movie, because of an almost certain trademark infringement lawsuit from DC Comics over the Batman character. Included here are excerpts compiled from the unfinished film, which also features Factory regulars Gerard Malanga and Jane Holzer.
 
 
Challenge of the Super Friends 1978
Episode 1: Wanted: The Super Friends
Episode 8: Secret Origins of the Super Friends
Episode 16: The History of Doom
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. & © DC Comics.
 
Alex Ross
JLA: The Original Seven 2000
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Debuting in The Brave and the Bold #28 (February/March 1960), the Justice League of America was writer Gardner Fox's updated interpretation of the Justice Society of America of the 1940s. The Justice League originally consisted of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman, but also featured Green Arrow, Hawkman, Atom, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Firestorm, among many others.
 
Though the premise was unlikely, since each superhero would have to travel from faraway locations regularly to meet other superheroes in one spot, the Justice League of America proved to be very successful, spawning numerous comic books and animated television series, such as Super Friends.
 
Alex Ross
Uncle Sam 1997
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross's Uncle Sam is a promotional piece painted for the 1997 San Diego Comic Con to publicize his upcoming Uncle Sam comic book series, in which a homeless, mentally ill Uncle Sam wanders through a city, recollecting facts and myths of American history.
 
Alex Ross
Charlie Brown Characters as the Justice League 1980
Crayon on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Before establishing his own style, the young Alex Ross drew superheroes in the fashion of artists he admired. One such artist was Charles Schultz, creator of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts cartoon strip.
 
In this illustration, characters from Peanuts in the guise of members of the Justice League are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Elongated Man, Atom, Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Charlie Brown (standing in as a joke for the Justice League's kid sidekick Snapper Carr), Metamorpho, and Plastic Man.
 
Alex Ross
DC and Marvel Present: World's Greatest Super Heroes! 1984
Comic book illustration featuring Green Lantern, Flash, and the Hulk
Crayon and pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
This completely original comic book was plotted, scripted, and drawn by Ross at age 14 using his given name, Nelson. Many of Ross's comic book stories from this period feature superheroes from DC Comics and Marvel Comics fighting each other or joining forces to defeat a common enemy.
The antagonist in this book is the aptly named General Ross. Also shown here are Ross's schematics of the Justice League Satellite headquarters, the Hulkbuster Base, and Green Lantern's Pleasure Ray.
 
Alex Ross
First Avengers 2010
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
First Avengers is influenced by paintings by Norman Rockwell that present subjects gazing into the distance, such as Growth of a Leader (1966) and Forward America (1951), created for The Boy Scouts of America, and his 1966 painting, The Peace Corps (JFK's Bold Legacy), created for Look magazine
 
The original members of the Avengers-Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man, and the Wasp-are present in this painting created for the 2010 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
 
Alex Ross
Invisible Man ca.1988
Pencil on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Alex Ross studied illustration at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, as did his mother Lynette in the late 1940s. In the 1930s, artist Andrew Loomis taught illustration there, and Alex Ross spent countless hours studying Loomis's instructional books. Loomis's books Figure Drawing For All It's Worth (1943) and Creative Illustration (1947) had a major impact on Ross's education, which is evident in his superhero figures. Many of Ross's sketches for superheroes mimic Loomis's figure drawings. Focusing primarily on portraiture, Ross created these drawings for class assignments at the Academy.
 
Alex Ross
Batwoman 2009
Cover illustration for Detective Comics #860
Gouache on paper
Collection of the artist
 
Kate Kane is the Modern Age Batwoman presented here. Best known as the highest profile gay superhero, it is ironic that the original Batwoman was created in the 1950s to counter false rumors of Batman's sexuality.
 
When DC Comics decided to update Batwoman's 1950s persona, a redesign that Alex Ross had previously pitched for a reborn Batgirl was drafted to the cause. This cover illustration was Ross's only painting of the character.
 
Alex Ross
Justice Vol. 2 Collection 2006
Print on canvas
Collection of the artist
 
Top row left to right: Solomon Grundy, Metallo, Poison Ivy, Parasite, Toyman, Gorilla Grodd, Riddler, Scarecrow, Clayface, Black Adam, and Giganta.
 
Bottom row left to right: Sinestro, Captain Cold, Black Manta, Bizarro, Lex Luthor, Joker, Brainiac, Cheetah, and Doctor Sivana.
 
Text © and courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum and Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

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