This exciting Western pulp oil on stretched painting appeared was created as cover art for the fall 1942 issue of the Thrilling Publications Western title Exciting Western. The scene shows a handsome cowboy and smartly attired cowgirl returning fire on unseen villains in this tautly rendered, action packed, bright and bold image. Grapefruit Moon Gallery recently purchased seven 1940s pulp cover paintings from an east coast collection belonging to a former employee of the publisher. The artwor has benefited from restoration and has been relined and fastened on new pine back stretcher bars. Unsigned, this is the work of Earle K. Bergey who worked frequently for this publishing house during the 1940s.
Earle K. Bergey :
Raised in Philadelphia, PA, the artist attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the 1920s. He worked for the Philadelphia Public Ledger after which time he produced covers for the Fiction House line of pulp magazines. By the mid 1930s and with relationships well established with leading publishing houses, Bergey settled in historic Bucks County, PA.
Earle K. Bergey worked as a freelance illustrator for competing publishing houses throughout the 1930s. His provocative paintings were featured on a diversity of publications from risque pin-up magazines and widely circulated pulp magazines to standard periodicals including The Saturday Evening Post.
The artist is perhaps best known for painting the celebrated cover art of Anita Loos’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the artist was very much in demand during the 1930s spicy pulp boom, contributing cover art such as this work to numerous titles such as La Paree Stories, Pep Stories, Gay Book Magazine, Snappy, and Tattle Tales. In the 1940s, Bergey added science fiction and Western art to his body of work, including covers for Captain Future, Startling Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories, and for various Thrilling Publications titles including Exciting Western, and Cartoon Humor. Often dubbed the “inventor of the brass brassiere,” for his covers of scantily clad women menaced by monsters in space, Bergey is seen to have inspired visual culture, especially film, with his memorable, humanizing compositions of cosmic conflict.