Fantasy Land

Need more protein in your art diet? A new title goes inside the wildly wonderful mind of Mark Ryden

Allegory of the Four Elements (No. 59), 2006. Photograph copyright Mark Ryden/courtesy Taschen

Christina Ricci, Abraham Lincoln, and Satan appear regularly in the world of Mark Ryden. The Eagle Rock-based artist is the dean of the lowbrow pop surrealist art movement born from 1960s and ’70s underground comics. Ryden explores some of the same subject matter, only through the eyes of Holbein or Van Eyck. Taschen has released a lavish retrospective volume titled Pinxit (Latin for “painted by”). The $6,000 edition of the book is as sumptuous as Ryden’s richly layered oils, 366 pages bound in a pink-and-gold embossed clamshell case with a signed silk screen inside. The 48-year-old painter graduated from Art Center College of Design and began his career as a commercial artist, creating album covers for Ringo Starr and Michael Jackson before devoting himself to fine art in 1998. Pinxit is organized by the themes of Ryden’s previous shows: Meat, Trees, Bunnies & Bees, and the Snow Yak. His next exhibition, The Gay 90s West, opens this spring at Michael Kohn Gallery. “The paintings are set in the utopia of the 1890s,” Ryden says, “but their meaning is open to today’s interpretations.”