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Isabel Samaras makes yesterday better with characters of today

“Pop surrealist” painter Isabel Samaras‘ solo exhibit “Making a Better Yesterday Today” opened Saturday at San Francisco’s Varnish Fine Art. The show features her interpretations of classic art with pop culture characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and the Planet of the Apes. She talks about it a bit on her blog where she describes how the exhibit uses QR technology to offer guests an artist’s commentary on the show:

If you have a smartphone with a QR (Quick Response) Reader App, you can listen to me yap a bit about each of the new paintings. Just scan the code on the wall by each piece and you’ll hear real actual thoughts that came out of my real actual head via my mouth.

Hit the jump to see a few samples of the paintings, then visit Varnish Fine Art’s site to see even more before joining me in lamenting that you don’t live in San Francisco. Unless of course you do live in San Francisco, in which case – by all means – rub it in.

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Carl Barks’ classic painting ‘The Sport of Tycoons’ fetches $262,900

"The Sport of Tycoons," by Carl Barks

Carl Barks’ 1974 painting “The Sport of Tycoons,” which features the iconic image of Scrooge McDuck swimming in his gold-filled vault, sold at auction last week for a record $262,900.

The painting is based on Barks’ often-reprinted 1952 tale “Only a Poor Old Man,” the first story in which Scrooge was the main character (in which, while swimming in his money bin, he says, “I love to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head!”). “The Sport of Tycoons” debuted in print in 1981’s The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck by Carl Barks.

The piece, part of the Kerby Confer Collection, was accompanied by the Heritage Auctions sales of two other Barks originals — “Sheriff of Bullet Valley” ($107,550), and “McDuck of Duckburg” ($101,575).

The auction also saw Jerry Robinson’s original cover art for 1942’s Detective Comics #67, the first Penguin cover, fetch $239,000, which Heritage dubs the second-highest price for a piece of American comic-book art.

The Power of Greyskull: two killer He-Man and the Masters of the Universe art galleries

Masters of the Universe art by Earl Norem

Masters of the Universe art by Earl Norem

I love He-Man and I don’t care who knows it. To my mind, the Masters of the Universe is one of the great untapped influences/resources in nerddom, a breathless (some might even say senseless) amalgamation of fantasy, science fiction, space opera, superheroes, pulp barbarians, and toyetic skunk dudes named Stinkor that in many ways prefigures contemporary comics’ fast and loose genre riffs and mash-ups, from Orc Stain to Prison Pit. The toys and the cartoon were good fun, but for sheer imagination-firing power, it’s tough to beat the line’s concept art. Aeron Alfrey of the indispensable art blog Monster Brains has assembled two eye-popping galleries of MOTU madness, one dedicated to paintings (in particular the work of the great Earl Norem), the other to comic and cartoon art. They have the power.

Straight for the art | ‘Pop Unintentional’

Left: 'Captain America; Right: 'Gossip'

Left: 'Captain America; Right: 'Gossip'

I really dig these abstracted superhero paintings by Bob Kessel. Apparently they’re part of a new exhibit of his work entitled “Pop Unintentional.” The good news is some are available as prints, in case that Lilli Carre piece I mentioned earlier doesn’t do it for you.

Frazetta’s son charged in attempt to steal $20M worth of father’s paintings [Updated]

Alfonso Frank Frazetta

Alfonso Frank Frazetta

Pennsylvania police have arrested a son of renowned artist Frank Frazetta after they say he used a backhoe Wednesday afternoon to break into his father’s museum in an attempt to steal $20 million worth of paintings.

Alfonso Frank Frazetta, 52, was charged with theft, burglary and trespass after he allegedly was caught loading the artwork into his trailer and SUV. Police responded to a burglar alarm at the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, museum, where Frazetta reportedly told the trooper he had been instructed by his father “to enter the museum by any means necessary to move all the paintings to a storage facility.”

Frazetta is in the Monroe County jail on $500,000 bail. Charges are pending against a second man.

The elder Frazetta, 81, was in Florida at the time of the incident.

Update (6 a.m. PST Friday): The Allentown Morning Call has more details, including the name of the other suspect.

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