Three Great Artists of the Twentieth Century – James Bama, James Christensen, and Boris Vallejo!

My list of course:-)

Before I tell you about the greats, let me establish a context for this post. You see, there’s art that goes by the name of art and gives art a bad name – now that’s the art I can’t stand. And then there’s art that makes you want to touch the artist’s hands and take away something more than an impression of his
work – that’s the art I love. So here it is – in black and white – as usual.

Art I can’t Stand!

  1. I dislike art that celebrates an absence of skill and that smacks of an organized art-racket.
  2. I don’t like irregular patterns created through a mindless splash of colors.
  3. I don’t like geometrical shapes (circles/squares/rectangles/hexagons, even irregular shapes…) filled with solid colors – ending up in a random title for the canvas.
  4. I don’t like negativity projected through a crazy array of cuttings, pasted together in a haphazard arrangement.
  5. I hate art that makes me feel like an idiot – that makes me say that my neighbor’s five-year-old could’ve done a better job at it.

Art that feigns creativity, gives me creeps!

Art I Love!

  1. I love drawings and paintings that establish a logical path to the artist’s thoughts.
  2. I admire art that makes me wonder whether it was a celestial being who created it.
  3. I appreciate art that tells me that the artist didn’t think that his audience was made of morons…and so he or she worked hard at the creating it.
  4. I love to see colors that complement one-another, and that have a reason to be there in the painting.

Art that celebrates the human ability to improve the perception of God’s creations, makes me smile.

Now you know the art that I hate – I’d mention neither those artists, nor their artwork on this blog.

The art that I love and the artists that I revere, are made of pure titanium. Nothing can corrode them – our praise or criticism means nothing to them. They aren’t even swayed by Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

I open myself to you by listing three of my favorites! These three have struggled to keep the beauty of art alive. These three are known well in their own arenas, but the success that should truly have been theirs went to those in my first list! But it didn’t matter to them – they’ve stuck to their love of skill in art.

Three Greats who didn’t Give in:

  • James Bama
  • James C. Christensen
  • Boris Vallejo

James Bama (American Realist – Western Theme)

I first saw the works of James Bama in an old edition of the National Geographic magazine. He lives in Wyoming. When I went through his bio in NG, the first thought that occurred to me was, “Would he take me under his tutelage?” (Caricatures are a very recent pursuit – I am more of a realist.) The thought was answered by another, “how would you reach him?”

But then his art became my tutor – it helped me understand lights, shades, and textures; the way no book could!

James C. Christensen (Fantasy Artist – Philosophical theme)

I was blissfully unaware that an artist as colorful and as imaginative as James C. Christensen existed, until one day, rummaging through an old-books sale, I came upon his book, “A Journey of the Imagination: The Art of James Christensen“.

The book turned my world upside down. The images made me wonder how he must’ve created them. The concept, the visualization, and then the execution of each painting was done with such finesse – They looked like they were created by fairies!

And yes, I also wondered why that beautiful book filled with unbelievable artistic treasures was available for me to buy at about 3 Dollars – and why people preferred to buy cheap calendars instead of picking this book of gold! Thank god they didn’t – or I wouldn’t have experienced the pain and the ecstasy of knowing Christensen’s work.

Boris Vallejo (Fantasy Artist – Erotica/Fantasy Theme)

About Boris Vallejo’s fantasy art!
When it comes to fantasy (and sometimes work that borders on erotica,) Vallejo is the best. He works with dragons, castles, men, women, lights, and shadows; like nobody else. His work takes you away into the land of fantasies – it dissolves your reality through its fantastical realism, and it weaves a golden web of almost unreal realities around you. I learned to appreciate Vallejo, about a decade ago, when I did some RPG illustrations, and haven’t stopped since.

That’s all, friends! Step into a world that’s different, and experience art that’s supported by a skill honed over a life time. Begin your journey from the appreciation of artistic mediocrity to that of artistic excellence!


10 comments on “Three Great Artists of the Twentieth Century – James Bama, James Christensen, and Boris Vallejo!

  1. THANK YOU for the first part of this post specifcally “art I can’t stand and art I love”

    I too get extremely frustrated when people put AWFUL art on a pedestal and actually act like its good!

    Having said that I LOVE James Christensen’s work it is just so fascinating to study!


    • Hi Tina,
      Welcome here.

      This is one of those raw posts that people often don’t comment upon. Your courage is appreciated.

      I discovered Christensen quite late in life – but it’s always better to find a good thing late than never.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting – Do visit again:)

      Warm Regards,


  2. I loved this post Shafali!
    “And then there’s art that makes you want to touch the artist’s hands and take away something more than an impression of his work” What an amazing way of explaining appreciation of art! I’m with you on your lists- I really don’t like any geometric shapes used in art and I hate it too when I feel like saying, “Ok, my dog could draw this with a brush in between his paws!”
    And I have to confess, I too, have to do some ‘experiencing’ 🙂
    Will get back to you afterward…:)


    • Thanks Lua. I guess the posts that come straight from the heart have a way of going straight to the heart too:) Emotion begets emotion of similar kind, and I should say – I’m happy to learn that you despise those boxes and spheres as much as I do:) Warm Regards, Shafali


  3. I shall have to go and study some. I am a real novice when it comes to modern art. I despise Damien Hurst and his sheep and sharks and so on.
    How are you about the pre-Raphaelites?


    • Study some? You don’t have to study Bama, or Christensen, or Vallejo – you experience them:) Click the links and they’ll fly you to a different world – or three different worlds – to be more accurate:) – Shafali


      • I had a little look and I recognised some pictures even. The last guy I have seen a fair bit of but I didn’t recall his name.
        I loved Boris the best but the Christensen seems the most quirky and original.
        The Boris pic I found most evocative was Angel of the City; sexy!!


      • Christensen’s work is more philosophical. His paintings have themes such as poverty, inequality, stress, anger, multi-tasking (believe it or not:))! His images can keep you thinking – especially if you learn to read the symbols.

        Boris Vallejo is probably the most talented artist in the commercial space!

        Bama’s great with the details. When he paints a leather pouch, you want to pick it up and feel the texture, when he whithers the skin of an Indian’s face, you begin to think of the hardships the Indian must’ve faced!

        Pre-Raphaelites – Interesting society…and I understand their cause:-) But sometimes, it’s best to let things be – you can’t change popular opinion, though you might want to let off the steam once in a while:)

        Thanks for visiting the links I suggested…sometimes when your object of appreciation is common, you forge a connection…



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