Who is Cor Blok?
Dutch visual artist, teacher, art critic, art historian, museum curator, emeritus professor University of Leiden. Born The Hague 1934, currently living at Amsterdam. Cor Blok is the author of books on Piet Mondrian, the history of abstract art, and the interpretation of images.
Why these paintings?
Coming upon The Lord of the Rings soon after it was first published, Cor Blok saw a unique opportunity to satisfy a long-standing interest in exploring the power of images to tell stories. JRR Tolkien’s trilogy offered a vast and vivid spectacle of landscapes, of all sorts of living beings engaged in an eternal struggle between Light and Darkness, of heroism and base treachery, fantasy and common sense.
As a sequence of events set in a pocket of space and time of its own, as it were, removed from the present and the world as we know it, yet full of situations and characters with which we can identify, The Lord of the Rings invited the creation of a pictorial idiom that respects this relative otherworldliness. Middle-earth has passed away, and my pictures are not to be viewed as an attempt at archaeological reconstruction.
Painted between 1958 and 1962, Cor Blok’s pictures based on The Lord of the Rings were among the earliest attempts at visualizing the story.
With an introduction from his publishers, George Allen & Unwin, Cor Blok visited JRR Tolkien in Oxford in 1961. Subsequently, Tolkien purchased two of the pictures, to which the artist added a third one as a present.
A selection of the paintings was exhibited in the Netherlands in 1962/63 and three of them appeared on the covers of the paperback edition of the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings in 1965. They were only ‘rediscovered’ in 1992, when about 20 were included in the Tolkien Centenary Exhibition in The Hague. The complete sequence was reproduced in A Tolkien Tapestry: pictures to accompany The Lord of the Rings edited by Pieter Collier (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011), with a substantial introduction by the artist.
Reproductions of Cor Blok’s paintings
Full size, full colour reproductions on special paper, framed and signed by the artist will be available from September/October, 2012. These can be pre-ordered as from now.
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