Understanding contemporary fantasy art involves more than appreciating illustrations for movies, books, magazines, and videogames of the fantasy genre. Fantasy art concerns mythological, magical, and supernatural themes. The history of fantasy art can be traced back to antiquity when artists treated mythological characters in their stories, poems, and images. By the Italian Renaissance, artists concerned with Greek and Roman mythological characters were actually creating fantasy art. As a genre, fantasy art does not receive formal recognition and legitimacy like other art movements.
In the 21st century, in part due to the global popularity of fantasy fiction, anime, and other fantasy media, fantasy art can claim a broad appeal as a form of creative expression. This genre, however, is often excluded from today’s art history books and rarely displayed in high art galleries. It is not typically studied in today’s art schools.
Popular figures that might be found in fantasy art are found in a story like J.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.” To understand fantasy art, you can picture elves, demons, wizards, centaurs, dwarves, goblins, and fairies. Fantasy art also extends to other characters, from superheroes to space aliens and from saints to animals with human features.
The Surrealist work of Salvador Dali (1904-1989) offers one example of Modern art with fantastic elements. His work was accepted as high art by the art establishment. Perhaps Dali stretched the limit of traditional art with his choice of subjects. In “The Persistence of Memory” (1931), Dali gives an almost human-like quality to the depressed timepieces. These scary figures are collapsed into sad versions that may cause the observer to descend into a negative reflection on the meaning of time. Time is the paradigm that shapes our lives and makes us question our own existence.
Other fantasy art can be found and studied on the Internet. If you want to explore a great portfolio of fantasy art by a child prodigy, search for the artist Akiane (Kramarik). Born on July 9, 1994, Akiane is internationally recognized as a child prodigy. While she mainly paints religious subjects, including Jesus Christ, her pieces can be described as fantastic. There is an almost cartoon-like quality to her brilliant faces, especially human eyes. One could argue that they are dream-like just like Dali’s work. In reality, her work is based on mystical experiences. Through her poetry and her art, Akiane spreads the message of Christianity.
Fantasy art continues to capture the modern imagination. In the future, perhaps fantastic art will be recognized as a form of high art by the art establishment.