The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop
The definitive behind-the-scenes history of one of Hollywood’s most closely guarded cinematic secrets finally revealed—painted backdrops and the scenic artists who brought them to the big screen.
In almost every feature film of Hollywood’s golden age, from The Wizard of Oz to North by Northwest to Cleopatra to The Sound of Music, painted backings have convinced moviegoers that what they are seeing—whether the fantastic roads of Oz, the presidents of Mount Rushmore, or ancient Egyptian kingdoms—is absolutely real. These backings are at once intended to transport the audience and yet remain unseen for what they really are. The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop reveals the hidden world and creators of these masterpieces, long-guarded as a special effects secret by the major studios such as MGM, Warner Brothers, Universal, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount.
Despite the continued use of hand-painted backings in today’s films, including the big-budget Interstellar and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events among many others, digital technology is beginning to supplant the art form. In an effort to preserve the irreplaceable knowledge of scenic masters, Karen Maness and Richard Isackes, in collaboration with the Art Directors Guild, have compiled a definitive history of the craft, complete with interviews of the surviving artists. This is a rich undiscovered history—a history replete with competing art departments, dynastic scenic families, and origins stretching back to the films of Méliès, Edison, Sennett, Chaplin, and Fairbanks.
Filled cover to cover with over 300 images,The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop is beautifully packaged as a hardcover book with slipcase.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - ashleytylerjohn - LibraryThing
Ended up skimming through it as the text just didn't engage me. I'm not sure who the target audience for this was ... as I love film, I love design, I love painting, and yet I didn't love this book ... Read full review
The Scene Unseen
GEORGE GIBSON 19042001
BEN CARRÈ 18831978
THE COAKLEYS J C BACKINGS 185 JOHN COAKLEY SR 18801936
JOHN HAROLD COAKLEY 19181970 GARY COAKLEY 1939
THE STRANG FAMILY WARNER BROS VERNE STRANG 19071978
Other editions - View all
art director Cedric Art Directors Guild art supervisor George artist Ben Resella artist George Gibson artist John Moffitt backdrop backing painted Bill Anderson Bill McConnell career Carré Cedric Gibbons Chris Coakley Clark Provins Clem Hall Coast Backings created Don Hanson Don MacDonald Donald MacDonald Duncan Spencer feet film Gary Thomas George Gibson Gordon Butcher Grosh Harry Tepker Hollywood Interview with Karen J.C. Backings James McCann Jim Dobson Joe Francuz John DeCuir John Harold Coakley John Moffitt Jonathan Williams Karen Maness lead scenic artist Lemony Snicket’s MGM’s Michael Denering motion picture movie paint frames painted backing painters production designer Rick Heinrichs Ron Strang scene scenic art department scenic art supervisor scenic artist George scenic artist John scenic backings scenic studio Series of Unfortunate shot Snicket’s A Series soundstage supervising art director supervising scenic artist supervisor George Gibson theater Twentieth Century-Fox Unfortunate Events 2004 Warner Bros