Advertisements

Tag Archive: John Alvin


Review by C.J. Bunce

Only a few Hollywood movie stars have reached icon status as Clint Eastwood has, from TV actor and film star in Westerns to street-smart leading man and pop culture idol, playing against type and then back again, and onward to award-winning director.  Eastwood has made his mark, and it makes sense that enough movie posters have featured his image and films to justify a book focused exclusively on the subject of the artwork instead of spotlighting any specific artist.  Not so much a survey of artwork as much as a comprehensive guide to movie posters featuring the star, Clint Eastwood: Icon–The Essential Film Art Collection is available this month in a revised and expanded edition for the first time in a decade.

In many ways Clint Eastwood: Icon would make for the ultimate auction catalog were all the items pictured for sale.  But it’s more than that.  Writer and compiler David Frangioni’s approach to collecting and his details about key posters will educate and inform even the passing film fan and collector.  Film expert and professor Thomas Schatz provides commentary on the context of Eastwood and his films within each decade.  Every area of collecting should be so lucky to have such a presentation in this format for its fans to admire.  Frangioni and Schatz include references to the artists when known, which is rare over the course of these hundreds of images.  The collection of work from these artists provides another niche study area for the history movie posters, including an international array of artists like Michelangelo Papuzza, Renato Casaro, Sanford Kossin, Peter Max, Jack Davis, Hans Braun, Lutz Peltzer, Lorenzo and Giuliano Nistri, Ron Lesser, John Alvin, Frank Frazetta, Bob Peak, Birney Lettick, Roger Huyssen, and Gerard Huerta.  Definitely a few names movie poster and pop art fans will recognize.

The posters represented aren’t only those styles seen by audiences entering American movie theaters.  These include many variations that appeared in theaters across the globe, some by artists whose names are lost to time, with decade-appropriate type styles and language to match.  As time marched on, more and more posters featured photographic images of Eastwood from the films, or other marketing photos of the actor inserted with or without additional artwork and text.  Why use a painting of Eastwood to advertise a Dirty Harry film when a photograph is most likely to reel in filmgoers?

Continue reading

Advertisements

makin moving posters

If you’ve watched any number of the documentaries or read about the artists that created classic movie posters in the 20th century, you can’t help but notice a subtext about the small circle of artists that became well known for their work.  Ego and competition among artists is a recurring theme.  In 2014 here at borg.com we looked at Drew Struzan via a documentary exclusively about him and his work.  Three books discussed here are about Struzan’s contributions to movie poster art.  A new book in 2014 chronicled works by John Alvin, reviewed here, and another book reviewed here documented the movie posters created for the Star Wars franchise alone.   Originals of some lesser Bob Peak poster art are being offered at more than $6,000 here.  In 2014 the greatest collection of movie posters ever assembled was offered at auction, discussed here.  Movie posters are still popular and do not appear to be fading away anytime soon.

In most accounts and interviews, movie poster artists of the past 50 years lament the decline of the movie poster.  But has that ever really been true?  Isn’t every artist in every medium always faced with competition from new creators and new tools of the trade?  Every year countless artists design movie posters that entice moviegoers.  Should we really be discounting creators who aren’t using pencils or paints to create the final product?  And is it enough for fans of movie posters that options like Mondo and new, up-and-coming poster artists are looking back and providing updated views of films via their poster releases?

24x36

Director Kevin Burke’s latest look at movie posters, called 24X36 to reflect the size of the standard marquee print, focuses on two classic poster artists, John Alvin and Roger Castel, Alvin known for countless posters for blockbusters and Castel for his often reproduced Jaws poster art.  The documentary also steps forward with interviews and discussions with more recent artists in the craft, including William Stout, Jason Edmiston, Laurent Durieux, and Gary Pullin.  We’ve looked at the works of Laurent Durieux here at borg.com previously.

Here’s a preview of the documentary 24X36:

Continue reading

Blade Runner one-sheet John Alvin   Young Frankenstein one-sheet John Alvin

Back in early 2012 we reviewed one of several books released on movie poster artist Drew Struzan, a useful and interesting resource called The Art of Drew Struzan, reviewed here.  It chronicles the best of painted motion picture advertising one-sheets that Struzan created, and even more enlightening, includes commentary by Struzan about his process and the politics and business of his years of leading the craft.  The picture he painted wasn’t pretty, but despite his own roadblocks he is generally thought of as the best motion picture poster artist of the last 50 years.

Along with Struzan, another poster artist created posters that often could be confused for Struzan’s.  That was the late poster artist John Alvin.  Unfortunately Alvin did not document his own personal account of his creative and professional experiences, but his wife Andrea has put together a book that at least documents his most popular work, released this month by Titan Books as The Art of John Alvin What we don’t know from any of the books we’ve reviewed on poster artists is how they might have competed for work over the years.  Andrea Alvin makes no mention of Struzan, but seems to indicate Alvin was able to keep a nice niche of clients over the years, ranging from the decision-makers behind the movies of Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and the renaissance of animated Disney blockbusters.

ET one-sheet John Alvin   Empire of the Sun one-sheet John Alvin

Alvin’s work seems far more commercial compared to the paintings of Struzan, as can be seen in Alvin’s posters for Empire of the Sun (1987), Cape Fear (1991), Batman Returns (1992), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), and Batman Forever (1995).  But that doesn’t mean they were any less effective at drawing moviegoers to the theater, the entire point of the poster.  The one-sheet for Empire of the Sun is often seen as one of the most memorable images in the history of movie posters.

The power of much of Alvin’s posters is the simplicity.  In 1982 when the public first learned of a movie called E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, the only thing we knew was a newspaper ad showing a wrinkled alien hand touching the hand of a kid, inspired by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam.  His teaser poster was equally as effective—never did these pictures show E.T. himself.  Those same images were reproduced on movie posters, cardboard standees, and eventually all over picture books sold via school book orders.  Simple images, but lasting images, and what they didn’t show was part of the enticement to reel in an audience.

Continue reading