Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Disney Book Illustrations

As a kid I was always searching for new Disney books which told stories using original stills from the movie. Looking at those film stills it felt like the movie stopped, and I had the chance to study the images thoroughly. Background paintings, inked or xeroxed cels and the overall color mood.
Then I discovered the Disney Golden Books. The pages in them showed special illustrations, in which the staging was often re-arranged to tell the story in a comprehensive way. Veteran studio background artists like Al Dempster, Gustaf Tenggren and even Mary Blair created beautiful paintings in Gauche or Watercolor.
Disney Editions recently published The Art of Disney Golden Books by Charles Solomon. It has great insight into the history of this popular book series. The art work is brilliantly reproduced, and each illustrator is profiled. I highly recommend this book:

Wilhelm Kuhnert

German animal artist Wilhelm Kuhnert (1865 - 1926) is somebody who's work seems to get better the more you study him. At first glance his drawings and paintings communicate the kind of bland realism that is so typical for a number of modern wildlife artists. But then dramatic, non formulaic poses of big cats and other wildlife emerge, showcasing the artist's unique observation. Unlike some other artists of his time, who studied animals at zoos, Kuhnert actually travelled to Africa, India and other places to see lions, tigers and elephants up close.
For obvious reasons I am very interested in his depiction of big cats. Wether resting, stalking or hunting, Kuhnert always finds the most intriguing poses to portray the animal's emotional state. By contrast his environments often don't come up to the quality of his painted animals.
See what you think!