I love a movie about an artist. You get to peek inside the world of someone obsessive, with talent many of us cannot imagine.
But who makes the paintings that the films showcase? I mean, behind the scenes, who is doing the real work? And what about the art we see on sets, or pieces that the characters buy? Sure, they might be commissions or actual pieces, or they might be something artists have created just for that scene.
The point is, there are real artists working for the art in our movies. Recently, Elephant covered several of these artists and their influence on the films they worked on.
For example, in Wes Anderson's new movie The French Dispatch, Benicio Del Toro stars as artist Moses Rosenthaler. In order to make his art convincing, they hired artist Sandro Kopp. Kopp had to figure out the character and how they would paint, down to the style, substance, and aura behind it.
Kopp explained, “Developing the voice and style of Rosenthaler was very much finding by doing. My assistants and I spent days blowtorching test panels, covering them in flaming shellac, or adding crystalline elements that might catch the light and look like flame, but in the end, we decided to go with a more purely painted approach.”
This is a regular occurrence behind the scenes for these kinds of movies. great art produced by great artists, whose credit goes to a fictional character. It's a side of the movie and TV business we forget about. But it's there.
And it's not just for the artsy movies.
'Candyman'Credit: UniversalChicago-based artist Sherwin Ovid was brought on to be the person behind the art in Candyman. In the movie, the character portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen has his art transformed as he transforms. A lot of this was the artist discovering the headspace of the character and then transforming the art to meet that. It was a bit of acting in itself.
A few years ago, artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh worked with Spike Lee on the reboot of She's Gotta Have It.
This is all a little complicated. There are lots of questions over the commissions and if they are art, or props, or both. And when they create things for a character, are they in any part an expression of their own tendencies? Especially when they work with the director ahead of time and look at influences and at times imitate other artwork.
No one asked me, but I think it's always art, and it's really interesting how these artists get to share headspace with a character and a director to create it.
There are many interesting jobs behind the scenes that few of us ever think about, but these crucial roles keep us engaged and in the story. We never balk when great art appears on the screen.
But after the movie, think about who made it. Seek it out. and find new artists to love and follow. Maybe their work can inspire your next work, too.
Let us know what you think in the comments.