April 17th, 2015

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Illustration: Arthur Rackham’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Arthur Rackham

Arthur RackhamArthur RackhamArthur Rackham is probably the single most influential children’s book illustrator. His delicate watercolors define the image of fairy tales in many people’s minds.

If you aren’t familiar with his work, see Bud Plant’s great capsule biography.

These scans are from a rare first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from 1909. This beautiful book is jam packed with fabulous color plates and ink sketches.

Rackham’s style merges an organic line and earthy color palette with fantastic imagery. He often slipped faces into trees and clouds, adding an extra layer of wonder to his images. His pastoral subjects often seem to be nostalgic for an earlier time, perfect for bringing fairy tales to life.

Arthur RackhamArthur RackhamWalt Disney admired Rackham’s watercolor and pen & ink style, and instructed Gustaf Tenggren to work with Claude Coates and Sam Armstrong to adapt it for use in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In animation backgrounds however, the sinewy Rackham line was overly busy, distracting from the characters; so Tenggren evolved towards the more dimensional painting style in Pinocchio, which set the standard for Disney cartoons throughout the 1940s.

At Animation Resources one of our projects is to document the images that acted as inspiration to the artists who created the first animated features. No artist fits that bill better than Arthur Rackham. We’re very fortunate to be able to bring the illustrations from this great book to you. I hope you enjoy them.

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Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 11:36 am

April 16th, 2015

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Theory: Churchill And Chaplin

Churchill On Chaplin And PantomimeChurchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill may have both shared the same country of birth, but they aren’t people you would normally associate together in your mind…

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

Today I was scanning Colliers magazines that Mike Fontanelli has on loan to us, and I ran across this article authored by Winston Churchill from October of 1935. Titled "Everybody’s Language", it is both a film fan’s homage to Charlie Chaplin and a history of pantomime in Western culture. I hope you’ll take the time to read it, because it has some important things to say to animators…

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"Twenty five years ago, when the young actor crossed the Atlantic, life in the States was more fluid than in England- more fluid perhaps than it is today. Its forms had not set. Personalities were more important than conventions. Democracy was not only a political institution, but a social fact. Class distinction mattered comparitively little when the hired hand of today was so often the employer of tomorrow, and the majority of professional men had paid for their university training with the work of their hands."

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"Every cinemagoer is familiar with the Chaplin tramps, but I wonder how many of them have reflected how characteristically American are these homeless wanderers…"

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"No mere clown, however brilliant, could ever have captured so completely the affections of the great public. He owes his unrivaled position as a star to the fact that he is a great actor, who can tug at our heartstrings as surely as he compels laughter… I believe that, had it not been for the coming of the talkies, we would already have seen this great star in a serious role. He is the one figure of the old silent screen to whom the triumph of the spoken word has meant neither speech nor extinction. He relies, as of old, upon a pantomime that is more expressive than talk."

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"Pantomime, of which he is a master, is capable of expressing every emotion, of communicating the subtlest shades of meaning. A man who can act with his whole body has no need of mere words, whatever part he plays."

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"I should like to see films without voices being made once more, but this time by producers who are alive to the potentialities of pantomime. Such pictures would be worth making, if only for this reason, that the audience for a talkie is necessarily limited by the factor of language, while the silent film can tell its story to the whole of the human race. Pantomime is the true universal tongue."

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

"It is a favorite cliche of film critics in discussing pictures to say that we cannot go back. In effect, they suggest that, because technical progress has given us sound, all films must be talkies and will continue to be so forever. Such statements reveal a radical misconception of the nature of progress and the nature of art. To explore the possibilities of the non-talking film, to make of it a new and individual art form, would not be a retrograde step, but an advance."

Churchill On Chaplin And Pantomime

Churchill was mistaken about the return of silent filmmaking. Talkies were, and still are here to stay. But "a new and individual art form" based on the ancient foundation of pantomime was just beginning to make its mark when this article was written. I’ll give you three guesses as to which art form that was!

Charlie Chaplin wasn’t the last gifted pantomimist. Many others followed him… Jackie Gleason, John Cleese, Rowen Atkinson… and these two giants from the early days of television, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Here is a brilliant bit from the mid-1950s from the The Sid Caesar Buried Treasures DVD

Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca Pantomime

Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca:
The Cocktail Party (1954)

(Quicktime 7 / 17 megs)

Many thanks to Mike Fontanelli for the loan of this magazine and Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans for the wonderful Chaplin images that illustrate this post.

If you want an incredible insight into the mind of a brilliant filmmaker, you will want to get the DVD of Unknown Chaplin. Using never before seen outtakes, these three programs reconstruct Chaplin’s creative process from the ground up. This is one of the greatest documentaries ever made. Check it out!

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 2:12 pm

April 15th, 2015

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Illustration: Wartime Colliers Magazine

Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

Wartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationWartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationThanks to Animation Resources supporters Kent Butterworth and Mike Fontanelli, our database includes many great examples of classic illustration from the pages of the "Rolls Royce" of weekly publications, Colliers magazine.

Today, we turn our attention to a very interesting time in American history, WWII. The war effort permeated everyday life throughout the nation, from the richest person all the way down to the poorest. This magazine reflects that, with feature stories, illustrations and ads that all reflect wartime themes.

Wartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationWartime Colliers Magazine IllustrationAt the time this issue was published, circulation for Colliers was nearing 2.5 million readers. By the mid 50s, circulation would rise to 4 million copies, but it wasn’t enough to save the magazine. Competition for ad revenues with television spelled doom for many of the big magazines, and Colliers was forced to go biweekly in 1953, ceasing publication altogether in 1957.

At Colliers, the illustrator was king, and many great artists filled its pages over the years, from Charles Dana Gibson, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Szyk and F.X. Leyendecker.

If you are interested in classic magazine illustration, see our articles 1930s and 40s Colliers Illustrations and Wash Painting: In Praise of Happy Accidents. Also make sure to check out the modern illustration section of our online exhibit dealing with illustration for our articles on Coronet magazine, Lawson Wood, Arthur Szyk and Earl Oliver Hurst.

Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

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Wartime Colliers Magazine Illustration

Thanks to Mike Fontanelli for contributing these great vintage magazines to be digitized for the Animation Resources digital archive project.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Posted by admin @ 1:10 pm