Thursday, December 3, 2020

Some Bob Peak Movie Poster Art

Robert M. (Bob) Peak (1927-1992), along with Bernie Fuchs, was a major creative force in American illustration beginning in the late 1950s.  His Wikipedia entrey is here.

I recently wrote about his non- movie poster work here.  That post included a quotation from illustration maven David Apatoff, who thought Peak's movie work became somewhat stale over time.  I tend to agree, though his poster art is often striking and usually very well made.

Note that movie poster art can be a difficult job for an illustrator because of the collaborative nature of movie production and marketing.  Many hoops for an artist to jump through, many people to please.  I suppose Peak encountered a bit less of this once he had firmly gained credibility.  Even so, the content of his posters was probably influenced to some degree by Hollywood marketing folks.  Therefore some slack should be cut regarding his poster art.

Below is a sampling of that work in no particular order.


Too elaborate for my taste -- Why were so many minor images needed?

Apocalypse Now

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Closer to Peak's regular illustration style.

Modesty Blaise
An example of cookie-cutter cliché poster design.

My Fair Lady
More interesting, but again many sub-images.  At least they are very small.

Later on, Peak began incorporating airbrush.

The Missouri Breaks
The upper part of this (possible concept) illustration appeared in posters.

The Yellow Rolls-Royce
Interesting design incorporating montage elements.


Paul Sullivan said...

DP—thanks again for featuring Bon Peak, one of the most brilliant illustrator/designers of the 20th century. You’ve featured Peak's magazine illustrations and movie posters separately. This is good for many reasons—among them is the fact they were designed for different purposes. We must remember most of these movie posters were designed to be 3 to 8 foot high, accommodating foot traffic. However, some were designed to also work as magazine ads, as was the case with the Camelot design.

Personally, I think the “Thoroughly Modern Millie" and the "Modesty Blaise” posters are classics when judged as poster art. They are powerful and spoke to people in the visual language of the times.

The “My Fair Lady” image looks busy and it is bound to at 4 inches high. It was designed for something closer to 2 to 4 feet or more. These movie posters never are seen at their best when reproduced small.

I think the “Camelot" poster has to be judged alone. This was designed more like a magazine illustration but it set movie poster design on its' ear. My thought is any collective presentation of the best of American illustration should include this piece of work.

Paul Sullivan

Donald Pittenger said...

Paul -- Valid points regarding poster size and placement, factors I didn't consider.

Even though I had my quibbles, I also should have compared Peak's posters to some by other artists in earlier times -- the 1930s to 40s, for instance. His works were miles more exciting than run-of-the-mill Hollywood stuff of those days. I also should have made an effort to compare Peak's work with more contemporary works.

That will take a bit of research, but would result in a new blog post. (I'm beginning to run out of ideas and am thinking of posting only once per week).

Paul Sullivan said...

DP—Just a few side comments:
If you are interested in another posting of Bob Peak’s work you might consider his postage stamps featuring the olympics. Peak did a series of postage stamps for the U.S. Mail. Some of these stamps were designed to be croppings of larger work—excellent designs that were olympic publicity.

Also, Drew Struzen is an illustrator who has been over looked to some degree in the Photoshop-poster age. One reason may be that he signed his name simply as “Drew". Drew did a lot of outstanding movie posters but he also did a series of postage stamps. His stamps featured the past greats of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Another artist to consider is Ogden Pleissner. You might check his watercolors with the link below.

Pleissner and an entire group of great American watercolor painters of the 1945 to 1965 era are all but forgotten. These artists helped elevate American watercolor to be recognized as something more than a sketch.

Sad to say but American Artist magazine is no longer with us. This publication should not be forgotten. In my estimation, American Artist carried the banner for representative art through the bleak post war years when abstract non representative art was considered holy writ. During those years, American Artist, with its Watercolor Page, was the only major art magazine with a portion of each edition devoted to watercolor and watercolor artists
All the best—Paul