It hardly feels like it’s been two years since I’ve written about Double Masters. The first set was released during the pandemic summer in 2020, featuring two rares and two foils per pack for the first time. But perhaps more importantly, it heralded the return of some of Magic’s most legendary and well-loved artists from years gone by. When Double Masters 2022 was announced nearly a year ago in August 2021, my wheels immediately started spinning. Would we see these same folks return again? Would even more artists come back to the game? The possibilities were endless.

My 2020 article covering the set wasn’t quite a Grand Art Tour, grabbing six of my favorite pieces from the 50 new works released during that set. Well in true Double Masters fashion, this newest iteration has just under 100 new pieces of art, so we’ll need some more room to expound on some of the standout works. This article will go full Grand Art Tour, and lean in on our theme of twos, exhibiting double features of outstanding illustrations from regular Magic masters alongside a few artists we haven’t seen for awhile. Get your shoes on folks, we’ve a lot of ground to cover: it’s the Double Masters 2022 Grand Art Tour!

Thousand-Year Storm and Privileged Position by Donato Giancola

Thousand Year Storm and Privileged Position by Donato Giancola. Traditional.

Our first artist made his Magic-al return a bit ago during 2018’s Dominaria, and has since appeared regularly in Magic’s expansions to reimagine and re-envision the Multiverse as only he could. Donato Giancola is nothing short of a living master, and has been one of my favorite artists for almost as long as I can remember, from way back when I first saw his Doomsday Specter, to falling in love again with his Basic Land Panorama those few years ago.

For Double Masters 2022 he’s created four pieces, but I want to showcase these two in particular. This pair explores the juxtaposition of the incendiary tendencies of the Izzet alongside the serenity of the Selesnya, complementary artworks that each excel in their own ways. Thousand-Year Storm is based on our own earthly Jupiter’s half a millenium-long storm, with Privileged Position its antithesis, a ray of calm and as wisdom-infused trees rise towards the sun.  Both of these are truly massive 30 inch by 24 inch oil paintings, and I can only hope to one day see them in person.

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Damnation by Ian Miller

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and Damnation by Ian Miller

Legendary British illustrator Ian Miller returned to Magic in early 2021 with his showcase frame Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire, but it turns out that was just the beginning. He had three total pieces in this new set, but I’d like to highlight these two, Damnation and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, for two different reasons. Both are quintessential Miller. Damnation blends his signature pen and ink medium with his Hieronymous Bosch-reminiscent composition, while Kozilek comes to us larger than life, yet sacrifices none of those thousand (literally) juicy details we can only see zoomed in. You know an Ian Miller original as soon as you see it, and I’m stoked to see his work back in a Magic frame.

Smothering Tithe and Phyrexian Altar by Pete Venters

Smothering Tithe and Phyrexian Altar by Pete Venters. Traditional.

After a brief emergence with Sengir, the Dark Baron for Commander Legends, Pete Venters is back with more wholly unique and Easter Egg filled artworks for this latest set. Commander standout Smothering Tithe gets printed in the borderless frame for the first time, featuring all the Orzhov-goodness that you’d want seen from the coins to the gnarly digit accoutrement. But look closer, below the frame and behind the text box; it’s the very same “tithing’ man found in the original by Jason Rainville, buried now under even more collection and circumstance.

His Phyrexian Altar hides another secret: the altar we see is situated on the very head of his Phyrexian Dreadnought, painted all the way back in 1995-96. It’s an homage to his early career in Magic, and a symbol of how he’s grown and excelled as an artist in the field. Welcome back Pete, it sure is good to see you again.

Cavern of Souls and Glimpse the Unthinkable by Drew Tucker

Cavern of Souls & Glimpse the Unthinkable by Drew Tucker

The inimitable Drew Tucker peeked back into Magic last summer during Modern Horizons 2, and has returned once again in full frame fashion with three new works for the game. Glimpse the Unthinkable is akin to the more typical Tucker work of old, a bit of abstraction, a dash of horror, blended with an intricate and unusual palette that moves you to the edge of your seat. Cavern of Souls however, is one of only three lands he’s ever painted for the Magic, and the first since his original entry of Plateau way back in Alpha. It’s dark and mysterious, yet enchanting and inviting, a combination he has a particular penchant for within his art. I’d love to see more of his landscapes, and really anything by his hand, continue to come to Magic. Tucker has been around since the beginning, and I sure hope he is there at the end, if there should ever be one.

Vedalken Orrery and Burning-Tree Emissary by Scott M. Fischer

Vedalken Orrery and Burning-Tree Emissary by Scott M. Fischer. Traditional.

This entry is a little different- instead of posting the full resolution, I’ll invite you to watch these works come to life on Scott’s Instagram. You can find Vedalken Orrery here and Burning Tree Emissary here.

It has indeed been two years since Fischer returned to Magic with a big splash in the original Double Masters back in 2020. When I interviewed him back during that set, he said of Magic: “If fates will it, I want to be involved in some capacity until the day I am dead and buried.” Since that time he’s very much gotten that wish, with new work appearing in sets from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms through the recent Streets of New Capenna collection.

Double Masters 2022 plays host to four of his artworks, and illustrates the full spectrum of his artistic talents, from singular strong female figures to impressive fantastical contraptions. Incredible storytelling lives within each, from Dovin Baan’s (one of my favorite characters) study seen in the Orrery to the Gruul wildmage who sits perched, overlooking her most beautiful bonfire; a work of art of her work of art. Fischer works big and bright and beautiful with as much dynamism as anyone creating today, and Magic is a better place having his art back in it.

Muldrotha, the Gravetide by Eric Velhagen and Wall of Omens by Dan Frazier

Left: Muldrotha, the Gravetide by Eric Velhagen. Right: Wall of Omens by Dan Frazier.

The final entry for today is not of works by the same artist, but rather two standouts I didn’t want to forego mentioning. Eric Velhagen had illustrated a handful of cards before his borderless return in the first Double Masters, and we’re finally seeing his emotive and motion-filled style fully realized in a legend that will see a ton of play. His Muldrotha employs a unique palette, the perfect compilation for the card, as the creature’s power undulates and crashes across from edge to edge. I’m very excited to see his work up close later this year at IX, and perhaps this painting will even be there.

Turning 180 degrees, the master artificer and Man of the Mox Dan Frazier has his first card since his Secret Lair, those being his first in another lengthy stretch of time. It’s not too often I get to write about a Wall, but Frazier has done something special in making something so static so very interesting. The borderless frame encourages us to explore the entirety of the work, and removing the frame reveals even more we haven’t yet seen, including some color that unfortunately didn’t make it into the final printing. There is much more to Dan’s work than singular pieces of magical technology, and maybe more landscape-esque arts are in his future? I hope so.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed this doubly featured Double Masters Grand Art Tour. To have such nostalgic artists join and rejoin the game is becoming something to look forward to every other summer for those art loving players and collectors. I think it’s likely something we’ll see continue, in this form or another.

If I had but one critique from this set, it would be the same as its last iteration, a point made by BibliovoreOrc on Twitter that I would like to echo here. There are a lot of cards that need new art: I would love to see more of these format staples commissioned from women and artists of color. Of the Double Masters 2022 new artworks, less than a dozen fall into this category. While it’s a better percentage than last time, there is still a lot of room for new opportunities, especially compared to the strides made in other sets. The impact of new artists and the stories they tell is larger than the game itself, and I hope to continue to see growth among Magic’s artistic ranks of folks we need to hear from.

Looking forward to the dog days of summer, I’ll be headed to the SOLD OUT CommandFest Orlando with Andrew Mar in two weeks, so if you’re going to be there, please do stop by and say hello! I’ll likely write about some of the shenanigans that ensue, so make sure to tune back in in two weeks. Be safe out there y’all, and we’ll talk again soon.

Donny Caltrider has been playing Magic since 2002 and collecting original Magic art since 2017. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. You can find him on Twitter talking about #mtgart, museums, and other #vorthos related goodness. Follow along and continue the conversation!

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