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Brundage, Margaret

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1900-1976) US illustrator, resident in Chicago. Best-known for her erotic covers for Weird Tales, Brundage was apparently the first woman artist to work in the sf/Fantasy field, and the first of either sex whose covers for these magazines featured nudes. Her female subjects (see Women in SF) are generally described as damsels in distress; however, as they posed provocatively wearing little or no clothing, they did not always seem particularly distressed by their occult surroundings, and despite some claims, there were rarely intimations of bondage or torture in her work.

Brundage began her career with a cover for Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright's other magazine, Oriental Stories, showing a dancing Asian woman wearing only a bejewelled g-string (nipples artfully obscured by a stray lock of her hair and a necklace pendant, respectively). The positive response was immediate, proving once again that Sex sells, and Wright then made Brundage the main cover artist for Weird Tales from late 1932 to 1938; she continued to do occasional covers until 1945. Her unique style of using pastel chalk provided her works with attractive soft colours, but her renderings of faces and bodies were not greatly admired, perhaps explaining why she enjoyed little success during the final, impoverished decades of her life. Among the artists who were influenced by her work was Virgil Finlay, who succeeded her as a major cover artist for Weird Tales, and she undoubtedly played a role in shifting the attention of sf artists from Spaceships and Monsters to the beautiful, scantily-clad women who were long a mainstay of the field's Illustration. [JG/PN/GW]

Margaret Johnson Brundage

born Chicago, Illinois: 9 December 1900

died Chicago, Illinois: 9 April 1976


about the artist

  • Paula Guran. "Our Queen, Our Mother, Our Margaret" (Summer 2010 Weird Tales 65:2) [pp20-27: mag/]


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