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The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop Hardcover – November 1, 2016
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“The best book written about one of our crafts . . . ever.” —Perspective: The Journal of the Art Directors Guild
“To turn the pages of this book is to feel like you’ve entered a legendary treasure house filled with magnificent images, paintings that fooled the eye.” —Los Angeles Times
“A welcome reminder of how the movies managed to summon their most magical worlds from pigments and brushstrokes.” —New York magazine
“In The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop . . . the unsung artists who created some of cinema’s most enduring images take a long-overdue bow.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Pays homage to the trompe l’oeil that created some of film’s most iconic settings.” —The Hollywood Reporter
"Reveals a facet of moviemaking that even savvy film buffs may not know about . . . You will be amazed, as I was, at the number of familiar scenes from films as varied as The Wizard of Oz, North by Northwest, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events that make use of these canvases . . . This is truly an eye-opening book and a valuable contribution to our understanding of how movies are created."
"The fascinating scenic work documented so gorgeously here is vivid testimony to the critical role of the artist in the creation of expressive, immersive narrative environments throughout the history of cinema. We can begin to appreciate perhaps what we are now losing: the hand of the artist illuminated by the cinematographer’s light and captured on camera at the moment of performance."
—Rick Heinrichs, Academy Award–winning production designer of Sleepy Hollow
“What a pleasure it is to see this book being published. Now, the filmgoer can see for themselves one of the great and beautiful mysteries of film creation. This book shows it all.”
—Dean Tavoularis, Academy Award–winning production designer of The Godfather: Part II
“To see all my heroes in one book and look inside this enchanting world is extraordinary. A truly inspiring book.”
—Jess Gonchor, Production Designer of True Grit, No Country for Old Men, and Hail, Caesar!
"What an astonishing achievement this spectacular volume is! It’s an amazing treat that we, who love the movies, are being presented with. Massive congratulations are due to all who contributed to making this 'dream-work' such a totally absorbing reality.”
—Tony Walton, Academy Award–winning production designer of All That Jazz
About the Author
Karen Maness is the principal instructor of scenic art and figurative painting for the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin, and Scenic Art Supervisor at Texas Performing Arts. Maness studied studio art and set design at Whittier College in Los Angeles, California and continued her studies at Cobalt Studios in White Lake, New York, and The Florence Academy of Art in Italy. Her career as a scenic artist and practicing studio artist spans more than twenty-five years, with works held in private collections worldwide.
Richard Isackes is currently a professor of theater at the University of Texas at Austin. Isackes has designed extensively in both regional theater and opera and has twice been the recipient of the Boston Circle Critics award for best scene design. Formerly a member of the faculties of Bucknell University, Boston University and the University of Illinois, he currently holds the Joanne Sharpe Crosby Chair in Design and Technology at the University of Texas where he served as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance from 1998 to 2006.
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Hollywood back in the day would often use backdrops for close up shots, cut always or to create n the studio a duplicate of the environment that we might see on location. Much of that type of work has been replaced with blue screen and CGI over the years so much of this art has been pushed to the side. These backdrops at their best were wonderfully detailed paintings. This book does an excellent job od documenting the best from the late 20th century and the early 21st.
The seamless way that these paintings and their foreground stage dressings could create a seamless illusion often giving a fantasy sheen to many of these films. The book is printed on heavy, glossy paper and the book is well bound using the type of binding of typically expensive set books (which is entirely appropriate).
The main focus is the large stunning photography of behind the scenes shots from old Hollywood. The star of each photo is the backdrops themselves and that's where your eye goes first, not to the famous actor standing in front. That's my favorite part about this book- scenic painters rarely get recognition (nor do they ask for it) but I'm so excited that Richard Isackes and Karen Maness took the time to create a massive visual "standing ovation" to this profession.
Buy this book. Buy it now. You'll not regret it.