Warp your reality with the art of Istvan Orosz

orosz lead image
 
Around the end of the ‘90s, an art dealer friend of mine began bringing traveling exhibitions of Polish posters to town. It was eye-opening stuff—Eastern Europe has long had a tradition for outstanding poster art, its artists boasting stunning skills, married to an admirable obeisance to the visual legacy of traditional printmaking methods and jaw-droppingly inventive surrealist-influenced illustration. It was at one of those poster shows that I bought an item that remains one of my most cherished possessions: Istvan Orosz: Etchings and Posters, a slipcased, hand printed letterpress book from 1998, from an edition of only 750 (a second edition of 300 was made in 2000), published by the apparently now defunct GrafikARCHIVE Publishing of Kansas City, MO. From an archived mirror of the company’s web site:

This first book features the work of internationally renowned Hungarian designer ISTVAN OROSZ. Fold out pages, envelopes with small printed pages of art, several different types of paper; “a feast for the eyes and the hands” (International Paper). The book received the ADDY Award in 1999 for its imaginative presentation by the firm DESIGN RANCH. Slipcase, wire-O bound in portfolio form, 82 pages with numerous 1 to 3 color illustrations. Essays by Roberta Lord (US) and Andras Torok (Hungary).

 
orosz book
 
Other books of his work are more readily available and affordable, but it’s sad that this one in particular is such a rare item, as it’s a wonderful way to experience Orosz’s work—it’s a very playful book for a very playful printmaker, who shows strong influences from the likes of Magritte and Escher. But there are deficiencies. The printing technique makes it impossible to show much of his poster work in full color, and it excludes, due to obvious realities, his anamorphs and his animations.

First, feast your eyes on a few lovely posters.
 
orosz poster 1
 
orosz poster 2
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orosz poster 3
 
orosz poster 4
 
orosz poster 5
 
Now, check out his anamorphic work. Anamorphoses are artworks that look indecipherable until viewed from a specific angle or in a distorting mirror, often a cylinder. Check out how, on top of just the basic anamorphosis, Orosz goes the extra mile and embeds a hidden portrait into the drawing, or uses the anamorphic drawing and mirror as an extension of a larger work. Stuff like this always amazes me.
 
orosz verne
Jules Verne
 
orosz poe
Edgar Allen Poe: The Raven
 
orosz anna
Anna Draws A Circle
 
orosz bodyscape
Anamorphic Bodyscapes 1

Finally, enjoy a few of Orosz’s marvelous animations. If the stuff on the printed page suits your fancy, I don’t suggest passing up the opportunity to watch his work dance.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
David Lynch student film, ‘Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)’ (1967)
01.06.2014
01:58 pm

Topics:
Animation
Art
Movies

Tags:
David Lynch


 
“Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)” (otherwise known as “Six Figures Getting Sick”) is a student film that David Lynch made in 1967 when he was attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. With a soundtrack of a blaring siren, “Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)” is basically an animated painting/sculpture of six male figures with visible internal organs vomiting, a one-minute-long animation that was looped four times.

The film was shot in an unused room in a downtown hotel owned by the school. Lynch made a sort of 6 ft by 10ft canvas/sculpture that included plaster molds of his own face to give it extra dimensionality. He then painted over this as collaborator Jack Fisk shot the stop motion on Lynch’s 16mm camera. When the film was originally screened, I believe it was screened onto the canvas itself.

The film was created on a budget of $200, a sum Lynch called “completely unreasonable.”
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen’s animated ‘Mother Goose’ and other fairy tales
01.06.2014
05:57 am

Topics:
Animation
Movies

Tags:
Ray Harryhausen
Mother Goose

harryhausen hansel und gretel
 
Special effects and animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen remains best known for his still amazing skeleton swordfight sequences in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, but he originally made his bones (sorry) on his own, animating fairy tales and nursery rhymes on discarded surplus film.

Ray decided he would make his own short films.  Using some out of date 16mm colour Kodachrome stock he had acquired, and with the help of his father and mother, he shot a series of nursery rhymes that included Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, The Queen of Hearts and Humpty Dumpty.

When he had completed all of these stories he lumped them all together under the title The Mother Goose Stories (1946), which he distributed to schools with great success.

 
harryhausen mother goose
 
He returned to the theme in the 1950s, around the time that he began to break in to the feature productions that would soon make him famous.

Ray returned to shorts with an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, which he called The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1950).  Using the same methods as he used with The Mother Goose Stories the film proved another success with schools and so Ray set out to make what has since become known as the Fairy Tale series, although in fact not all were fairy tales. The series included The Story of Hansel and Gretel (1951), The Story of Rapunzel (1952) and The Story of King Midas (1953), the last of which was completed after his first feature film project.

It couldn’t be more clear from watching these that this was the work Harryhausen was meant to be doing. Though his only significant commercial animation work prior to the Mother Goose tales had been assisting George Pal on some Puppetoons shorts, his own films are expertly done, and stand up well to any animation of the era.
 

 

 

 

 
For more Ray Harryhausen on DM, see here and here. The 2011 documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is available for viewing by Netflix streaming subscribers. I strongly recommend seeing it.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
‘Thin White Gelato’: David Bowie’s holiday memories set to gorgeous fantasy animation
12.30.2013
08:25 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
David Bowie


 
This is honestly some of the more interesting David Bowie-inspired art I’ve seen, and believe me—-I’ve seen a ton. The man is the progenitor of so many artistic foundations, many of them visual. In my line of work, I’ve waded through a lot a of really bad Bowie-related short films and fashion lines before finding anything that’s not been done before. Not only is this little cartoon interesting, it’s unexpected.

The short starts out with footage of Bowie reminiscing on Christmases past, then unfolds into a lovely animated quest where winged ice-cream trucks soar across gentle psychedelic landscapes. If the art seems familiar, the animators are quick to cite the children’s picture book and subsequent cartoon, The Snowman as their inspiration. The book was a holiday staple for many childhoods, including my own, and it’s an interesting nostalgic contrast to David Bowie the career futurist.

There’s something unbelievably soothing about David Bowie’s voice over cartoons of migrating ice-cream trucks. It’s dreamy and sweet (no pun intended), and for a moment, you even forget the cartoon is Bowie-inspired—high praise when the man casts such a long shadow. Honestly, I doubt he’d object. David Bowie was obviously never averse to a little sentimental sweetness; I think we all remember that awesomely surreal “Little Drummer Boy” duet with Bing Crosby and just the other day, his thin white duke-ishness sent over some holiday cheer from his home in New York to his native Britain via “This is Radio Clash.”
 

 
As a bonus, check out this 1968 ice-cream commercial which features a young Mr. Bowie for a split second. (These individually-wrapped ice-cream bars came with trading cards of pop stars incidentally.)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘A Synthesizer for Christmas’: Your new claymation holiday classic, with keytar!
12.21.2013
07:57 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Christmas
synthesiers

moog
 
Me, I’m all about creating “new traditions,” so can we add this cute animated ode to synthesizers to our yearly holiday viewing? My Christmas wishes were always full of DEVO and New Order!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Mel Brooks heckles the avant–garde in his Oscar-winning 1963 animated short, ‘The Critic’
12.04.2013
03:42 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Animation
Art

Tags:
animation
Mel Brooks
Jewish culture

Mel Brooks
Brooks accepting his 2001 Tony for ‘The Producers,’ and still mocking Nazis after all these years
 
I highly recommend anyone unfamiliar with the legacy of Jewish comedy to read up on The Borscht Belt. A cheeky play on The Bible Belt, the Borscht Belt—or the “Jewish Alps”—was a scenic region of upstate New York peppered with resort towns, nicknamed for the beet soup favored by the Eastern and Central European Jewish immigrants who vacationed there from the 20s to the 70s. The entertainment traditions that developed in these resorts laid the foundation of what we now recognize as stand-up comedy. Prior to the character-driven monologue style of Borscht Belt comics, the most popular vehicles for comedy were vaudeville and minstrel shows, with jokes either embedded in a more elaborate act, or used as a buffer between them.

While the Borscht Belt comics pioneered the “mic and brick wall” minimalism of modern stand-up, they were also on the ground floor with some of the more experimental stuff. Below is the animated short film, The Critic, a brilliant piece by the immortal Borscht Belt alumnus, Mel Brooks. Inspired by his own experience overhearing a gentleman of the tribe kvetching during an avant-garde movie, Brooks voices the part of an Ashkenazi grouser with affection and bite.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Surrealist animated gifs of people’s heads
11.18.2013
06:01 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
Sholim
Milos Rajkovic

Sholim
 
I cannot get enough of these gyrating and bobbing mechanical heads. Aren’t they simply fantastic? I know absolutely nothing about the artist, Milos Rajkovic of Belgrade, Serbia, who goes by the name “Sholim,” but I wish him a long and fruitful artistic career.
 
Sholim
 
I’d love to see a ten-minute film by Sholim…....

 
Sholim
 
Sholim
 
Sholim
 
Eight more of these incredible images after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Guillermo del Toro refused to insert a ‘Poochie’ into ‘Wind in the Willows’

The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show!
 
For my money, “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show,” episode #14 in the 8th season of The Simpsons, ranks as one of the most effortlessly resonant episodes they ever did. If you recall that one, the TV execs, worried about slipping ratings for “The Itchy & Scratchy Show,” decide to insert an “extreme” dog character named “Poochie” into the program. The surfboard-toting Poochie wears sunglasses, a backwards baseball cap, and torn shorts and generally behaves like the parody of edgy youth behavior he was intended to be. Eventually the kids start to hate Poochie because he always drags down the action, and they kill off the character. In a “meta” point to drive the point home, in the episode an additional, sassy Simpsons sibling named “Roy” materializes, whom all the characters acknowledge as always having been there.

The episode is studded with great dialogue, but here’s a bit in which all the relevant nonsense about Poochie is laid out in detail:
 

Network Executive Lady: We at the network want a dog with attitude. He’s edgy, he’s “in your face.” You’ve heard the expression, “let’s get busy”? Well, this is a dog who gets “biz-zay!” Consistently and thoroughly.

Krusty: So he’s proactive, huh?

Network Executive Lady: Oh, God, yes. We’re talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.

Writer: Excuse me, but “proactive” and “paradigm”? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I’m accusing you of anything like that. [pause] I’m fired, aren’t I?

Roger Myers Jr.: Oh, yes.

 
The whole episode is a stone classic, and (in my mind at least, and I know I’m not alone) the word “Poochie” ever since has always been synonymous with gratuitous attempts to pander to audiences.

Everybody gets that Poochie-type behavior is a daily occurrence in Hollywood—but surely the makers of The Simpsons were exaggerating, right? To judge from the experience of Guillermo del Toro, apparently not!

Around 2003 del Toro was attached to a Disney animated adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s 1905 children’s favorite The Wind in the Willows. In an interview from Rotten Tomatoes’ “Dinner and the Movies” series, del Toro revealed that he had to leave the project because of the Disney execs’ request to “Poochie” up the character of Toad:

Wind in the Willows, which I adapted to do animated. ... “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and all that - it was a beautiful little book, and then I went to meet with the executives and they said, “Could you give Toad a skateboard and make him say, ‘Radical, dude!’ things,” and that’s where I said, “It’s been a pleasure!”

The section with the Wind in the Willows stuff is embedded below, but you can watch the entire interview (12 files) if you like.

All in all, del Toro’s decisions to walk away from material—which happened often, apparently—seemed to work out well. He’s one of Hollywood’s most inventive and sought-after directors, and he just published a terrific book called Cabinet of Curiosities which we posted about a month ago.
 

 
Thank you Mark Davis!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Animation cels from ‘Yellow Submarine’ to be auctioned off soon
11.08.2013
09:31 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Movies
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
'Yellow Submarine'


 
On November 20 & 24, Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills will be holding a huge event, the Animation Art Signature Auction. The sale features a ton of truly amazing items—there are animation cels from classic Disney films (plus some Disneyland concept art paintings), Mr. Magoo, Dr. Seuss, Peanuts and many more. The public can walk through the items starting on the 19th. All in all, there will be 126,980 lots for sale.

But what is of special interest are the 80 pieces from The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film, which are expected to collectively sell for over $125,000. Still, at this point, with the auction two weeks away, some of the Yellow Submarine cels are pretty cheap. Some haven’t even been bid on, while others are ranging from $20 to a few thousand dollars.
 

 

 

 
More cels after the jump…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Henry Rollins goes to Walmart and tells us what we already know
11.07.2013
05:06 pm

Topics:
Animation
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Henry Rollins


 
Henry Rollins ain’t no George Carlin or Lenny Bruce. He takes aim at sitting ducks like people who shop at Walmart and he isn’t particularly funny and his insights are hardly revelations. But for some reason people really dig him. I don’t get it. I personally don’t turn to rock singers for their analytical thinking or wisdom. Not even the smart ones like John Lennon or Frank Zappa. They may be remarkable musicians but their satirical writings tend to be obvious and sophomoric.

Listening today to my old Mothers Of Invention albums, the stuff that seemed so outrageous and cool to me when I was a teenager seems trite to me now. Zappa’s targets were sitting ducks, too, but at least the ducks were relatively fresh. On the other hand, Henry Rollins’ rants seem tired and cliche-ridden. It’s easy to make fun of the defenseless slobs who work at Walmart or hipster douche-baggery, the military and frat boys. We did that shit back in the Sixties. So when I hear Rollins going on about the culture of greed and the idiocy that surrounds us it all sounds tired and worn out. We know this stuff already. It ain’t funny. In fact, at times, I think it’s cruel and hipper-than-thou classism. Rollins may consider himself some kind of edgy philosopher but I find him to be a dim-witted meathead with a slightly better than average vocabulary and a bunch of half-baked ideas who takes on subjects that have already been beaten to a pulp by superior humorists like the genuinely funny Bill Hicks.

Here’s Rollins in his perfect setting as a cartoon character…
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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