Frazetta Learns Anatomy
Once Michele Falanga understood the potential Frank Frazetta had as a professional artist, Falanga took full initiative to mentor this young man and help him flourish in art.
Falanga started Frazetta in the traditional academic manner; drawing and painting plaster casts of statues. This technique helped Frazetta accurately record shapes and various shadows which define them. Frazetta remembered the instruction being causal, yet effective, “We used to sit around, sometimes out in the park and draw anything we wanted. It was very informal.”
After a few years of still life, Falanga progressed Frazetta into life drawings with nude models. Falanga wasn’t a stickler for anatomy. He encouraged his students to draw the movement and gestures of the subject rather than focusing on bones and muscle accuracy. Falanga instructed Frazetta to draw with speed.
In a few short years, Frazetta’s skills rapidly developed. Falanga felt that he provided Frazetta all of the tools he had and it may be time to advance to the next level; training with the masters abroad. Falanga received intensive training in Italy in the late 1890s. Falanga hoped to bring Frazetta to Italy to train in a similar manner.
A week prior to Frazetta’s 14th birthday, professor Michele Falanga passed away at the age of 72. The funeral was held at Fairchild Chapel in Brooklyn NY. Many attended. Frazetta and his peers were devastated as the loss. Michele Falanga was a devoted man to the arts and will always be remembered as Frazetta’s and many other artists’ first meaningful mentor.
Frazetta’s plan to study in Italy ended but the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts continued on. Ralph Mayo, Art Director of AC Comics took over as the Art Professor. While Mayo appreciated the style Frazetta had developed over the years he was quick to instruct Frazetta to get a firm grasp on human anatomy. Frazetta, always eager to learn, received a copy of ‘Constructive Anatomy’ by George Bridgman. He went home that same evening and copied the book from cover to cover, twice! The next day he arrived to class to show Mayo he had learned anatomy. Mayo laughed, “Oh, Frank, you haven’t learned anatomy. I’ve been studying for ten years and I still don’t really know the human anatomy.” The school finally closed its doors in 1945 and that was the end of Frazetta in art school.
To be continued....
Portrait of Michele Falanga by Frazetta (1942)