Flight Through the Ages: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to the Guild of Aviation Artists

Published: April 2nd, 2020     
Product Image
Front Cover
Author: The Guild of Aviation Artists
Reviewed by: Bill Kluge - IPMS# 45849
ISBN #: 9781526763778
Other Publication Information: Hardback, 8.5 X 11.1 inches, 248 pages, 200 color & black and white paintings, drawings and sketches
Price: $50.00
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

The Guild of Aviation Artists, which traces its origins back through several former artists organizations - the Kronfeld Aviation Art Society, the Industrial Painters Group, and the Society of Aviation Artists emerged in 1971 as the repository for the majority of Britain's aviation artistic talent, and in July of that year held its inaugural exhibition of 95 paintings entitled "Flight Through the Ages". The Guild has presented an exhibition every year since then, at times encompassing over 400 paintings from its members, now numbering over 350.

The Flight Through the Ages anniversary collection showcases some 200 works of art, culled from the thousands of paintings selected to hang in the 50 years of the Guilds exhibitions, representing a variety of styles and mediums. The chapters are arranged chronologically, beginning with early aviation, balloons and airships, progressing through the First World War, aviation's Golden Age of the 1920s and 30s, World War II, the jet age, Cold War, and the new millennium. Subsequent chapters highlight commercial and civil aviation, airshows, museums, helicopters, and gliders. The last chapters showcase some of the guild member's portrait work and finally, artist Chris French illustrates a step-by-step lesson in creating an aviation painting. Nearly all the images are in color and thankfully, each is accorded a full 8 1/2 by 11 page. None are split by the book's gutter.

While just about every aviation artist tries to represent their aircraft subject as accurately as their skill allows, that hardly means that this is a collection of photo-realistic renderings. Far from it. The artists depict the thrill, speed and drama of aviation realistically, graphically and impressionistically. They use oils, watercolors, gouache, acrylic, pencils, pastels, ink, and crayon, alone and in combination. Although most aircraft subjects are shown in their natural element, many are depicted surrounded by crews, maintainers, passengers, onlookers and even animals native to the environment they happen to be in. As one might expect of a British art organization, there are plenty of depictions of Spitfires, Hurricanes ,Lancasters and Lightnings. But there are also good number of Fortresses, Dakotas, 747s and F-35s. However, some of the most striking paintings are of non-military subjects - the Golden Age and commercial aircraft. Truly breathtaking (oh, if Chris French's gorgeous back cover de Havilland Comet had only been given its own page on the inside!).

So what, you may ask, is the value of this book to the modeler? Inspiration, pure and simple. Much as the best model box top illustrations drew us in to modeling and put ideas in our heads of dogfights and screaming jets back in the day, this book provides a luscious ready reference of many of aviation's most beautiful creations, each in a moment in time that draws us into its story. These paintings by artists like Frank Wooton, Michael Turner, and Wilfred Hardy are inspirational in the same way as John Steele's, Jack Leynnwood's, and Roy Cross's box top art was decades ago. It puts you there and awakens the interest. And they're all in one handy place.

This is a beautiful volume, and I greatly appreciate Casemate Publishers providing the review copy, and IPMS allowing me to write about it.

  • DC-3
  • DH-9
  • F-35
  • Macchi MC72
    Macchi MC72
  • Officer's Mess
    Officer's Mess
  • Westland F7
    Westland F7

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