Jo Mielziner, Thomas Hart Benton & Nicolas Delort

It’s artist of the week time!

Joe Mielziner

For me this is one of those moments where you’re introduced to somebody so talented and influential and then you feel really bad for not knowing who they were previously.

Joe Mielziner (1901-1976) was an American theatrical scene and lighting designer. Regarded as the most successful set designer of the Golden era of Broadway. That’s quite the title to be given.

Prepare for some of the titles I’m about to hit you with, Joe worked scenic design for original productions of such classics as Death of a Salesman, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, The King and I, A Streetcar named desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I mean seriously thats just a few of them.

Throughout his career he won seven Tony awards and nominated for a further five. He also won an Academy Award for best colour direction on the movie Picnic and eight Pulitzer prizes. The weirdest fact I found on wiki is that he worked as a camouflage specialist for the US Army during WWII, I didn’t even know that was a job. Sure I guess somebody out there has to design camouflage patterns, I’ve just never thought of it before.

Peter compared him to Syd Mead, an artist who can capture the entire mood of a production/scene in a single drawing/painting. Once you see some of his design work you can appreciate why.

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Thomas Hart Benton

Our second pick of the week is Thomas Hart Benton (1889 – 1975), an American painter well known for being part of the regionalist movement – an American exclusive movement depicting small town living primarily in the mid-west and southern states.

While growing up Thomas was pushed towards a career in politics by his father, while his mother encouraged his interest in art. I can relate to that, my own father attempted to push me into a practical career for many years (tradesman etc) while my mother always guided me towards creative endeavours, being the thing I admired growing up. It had its tough moments.

I’m wondering if Peter picked all choices this week deliberatly, it can’t be coincidence that Thomas was also hired as a camouflage painter in WWI. Except his wiki entry lists the job title as a ‘camoufleur’.

His work was required for several reasons: to ensure that U.S. ship painters were correctly applying the camouflage schemes, to aid in identifying U.S. ships that might later be lost, and to have records of the ship camouflage of other Allied navies. Benton later said that his work for the Navy “was the most important thing, so far, I had ever done for myself as an artist.”

s-s-_alban_camouflage_by_thomas_hart_benton

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Nicolas Delort

It’s a busy week for artists to go have a look at. I have a new love, Nicolas Delort is AMAZING. Unlike the rest of this weeks recommendations I realised I must be searching for a relatively young artist because there was no wiki page, adorned with tales of lifetime achievements. Instead I had to do some digging through his own websites and an interview excerpt he did with theverge.com.

All of his work is done on scratchboard, scraping off layers to expose the lighter shade underneath. That in itself is a talent. I found some of his background from the verge interview and love him immediately, he cites his initial inspiration for black and white rendering as manga artist Akira Toriyama. Tracing his backgrounds, until he gained the confidence to do his own.

He has illustrated for the covers of Charlie Brown, Where the Wild Things Are and is even inspired by the works of Blizzard Entertainment and their franchises.

“I have a clear preference for vast compositions where human presence is minimal — ruins, trees, landscapes come much more naturally to me than people,” he says of his work. “I’m trying to force myself to experiment a bit more and step out of my comfort zone, but it’s sometimes hard to do so on jobs with strict deadlines.”

Aside from his crazy primary method of creativity, Delort also dabbles in the digital, using Photoshop to transfer his creations into digital. In his words:

“I couldn’t do the illustrations I do on a computer, but at the same time I couldn’t work as an illustrator without Photoshop,” he explains. “They’re all just different tools for different goals.”

I’m absolutely in love with his intricate backdrops, I may look for an art print or two to put on display. If I can find any remaining space on any wall in my house!

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