"Tragic Ground, Paperback Cover, 1958"   Lot no. 3300

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By James Avati (1912-2005)

34.00" x 20.00"
Oil on Board
Signed Lower Left



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This illustration was published as the paperback cover for Tragic Ground by Erskine Caldwell, Signet, 1958.

Explore related art collections: Romance / Paperback Covers / Liquor/Beer / 1950s / Pulp / Newly Researched

See all original artwork by James Avati


James Avati is the best representative of a young group of illustrators who successfully faced the challenge of a declining illustration market in the traditional magazines in the late ‘fifties by gravitating to the field of paperback cover art.

    As a wartime outgrowth of the pulp magazines, the early paperback covers were especially lurid in concept. Although Avati did do some magazine illustration beginning in 1949 for Collier’s, American Magazine, McCall’s, Atlantic Monthly, and others, it was in the paperback field that he found his special niche and where he brought new distinction to that art.

    Avati’s approach was honest and unblinkingly realistic, in keeping with the gritty fiction that was becoming popular in books and movies, but he painted with an artistry that won readership for the books, and a score of imitators who tried to emulate the “Avati look.” To keep his lead, Avati went through successive stylistic changes, and he long remained a major force in the field. This impact is the more remarkable for his having had no formal art training. He is a graduate of Princeton University, but self-taught in art. In the ‘seventies, Avati started teaching in his own small school. He also has exhibited at the Society of Illustrators where his work has won several awards. 



James R. Avati of Redbank, New Jersey, and Salt Lake City, is an excellent and sensitive sculptor who studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, at the Arts Students League in New York City, at Ricks College in Idaho, and at Brigham Young University. He was also a graduate student in the Department of Art at the University of Utah where he earned his M.F.A. in 1988. While there he worked with Angelo Caravaglia in the development of his frequently powerful art.