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The Phantom Portrait Gallery

A specially commissioned series of Phantom portraits is being re-launched!

Long-time fans of the X-Band podcast might remember Episode 47 when we chatted to the co-curators of The Phantom Art Show, Peter Kingston and Dietmar Lederwasch.

In the course of the conversation with Dietmar, he recalled a set of Phantom prints that he commissioned over a period of many years, his 99.94 Editions - The Phantom Portrait Gallery.

For those who came in late, the 99.94 Phantom Portrait Gallery series was conceived by Dietmar in the 1990's. His dream was to commission leading Australian and international artists to produce new and innovative images of the Phantom, with each painting to focus on a different generation. "It was one of the greatest days of my life when I came upon the idea of issuing a set of Phantom prints of every generation. I worked on it for every day of my life for at least twelve years to get seven prints out."

In those 12 years, Dietmar was able to release unique and original Phantom artworks from a range of acclaimed artists: Birgitte Hansen, Barry Dean, Sy Barry, Paul Newton, Rosemary Valadon, Fred Fredericks and Frantz Kantor all contributed.

Sy Barry (The Phantom newspaper strip artist 1961-1994) is of course the most familiar name for Phantom phans, and most will recognise Fred Fredericks (1995-2000) as well. While the other contributors may not be as well known to phans, they are each accomplished artists in their own right. As can be seen from the Gallery of images below, each produced a distinctive piece featuring our favourite hero.

The 99.94 prints are huge - roughly 700mm x 900mm and printed on archival quality card, double varnished, signed in graphite and numbered (1-400).

They were reproduced faithfully from the amazing original artwork, and printed onto archival, museum quality paper. 400 Australasian copies and 400 export copies were produced at the time, and with the production run having stopped well over a decade ago, clearly there will be no more.

The full page ad that appeared in Frew #1227 (1999)

Unfortunately, only seven of the planned twenty-two portraits and prints were ever completed.

In the podcast Dietmar revealed that, with his enthusiasm to move onto each new print, he had not actively pursued sales of these. "I guess I never really marketed them in any way at all. As soon as I had one tidied up and printed off and signed and numbered I went onto the next one and just left them gathering dust."

Not all has been lost, as the unsold 99.94 prints have been put to great use over the years, "I always donate at least one print to each [Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorer's Club] dinner and that gets raffled off, which raises about $300 per print for the Westmead Children's Hospital," explains Dietmar.

Time waits for no one, however, and Dietmar has recently decided to sell all the remaining prints to Phantom's Vault, who have now made them available and accessible to the general public in this exciting re-launch.

Dietmar has always been very proud of the results of his commissions and prints, as are the artists who produced them. "The signature of the artist in graphite confirms the authenticity and limitedness of each print as well as confirming that the artist is satisfied with the fidelity of the print to the original," read the copy in the original advertising for the prints.

The re-launch of these prints represents a great opportunity for modern phans to acquire a rare and wonderful piece of Phantom artwork.

To purchase one or more of the prints, visit the Phantom's Vault website and place your order today.

For more information on The Phantom Portrait Gallery prints, see Bryan Shedden's excellent analysis on the Deep Woods website.

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