Blake Edwards, Untitled, 1987, Watercolor Series #140, Watercolor on paper, 18 x 24”.
Blake Edwards, Monkey Do, 1990, Circus Series #31, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48”.
Blake Edwards, New Moon, 1993, Suisse Series #154, Acrylic on canvas, 29 x 36”.
Blake Edwards, Girl in Field, 2001, Lavender Fields Series #177, Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16”.
Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue
The Art of Blake Edwards
January 9-February 13, 2009
Feingarten Galleries presents The Art of Blake Edwards, the first major retrospective of the Academy Award-winning American film director, screenwriter and producer.
Spanning nearly 40 years, the exhibition is grouped by different periods from Edward‘s oeuvre including a collection of sculptures, watercolors, and paintings from the Anvil, Floating Spaces, Flowers, Circus, Modern, Geometrics, Lavender Fields, and Suisse series. "This retrospective gives the Los Angeles community a rare opportunity to experience another creative side of one of Hollywood‘s most revered and distinguished filmmakers," comments exhibition curator Gail Oppenheimer. "Blake has had such an incredible impact on the film industry, but this installation of his visual art work provides the opportunity to see the creative inspiration that fueled his filmmaking career."
Edwards has always been an enthusiastic art collector and has approached his own work with the same discerning eye for quality and aesthetic beauty. He passionately pursued art as a liberating form of creative expression. Edwards began actively creating a group of paintings in 1969 referred to later as the Anvil series. Hidden Valley, his first work from this period, "... conveys the impression of a three-dimensional sculptural object placed against a distinctly two-dimensional background — conveying a connection to his work as both painter and filmmaker, with the background in the painting almost functioning as a movie screen against the "action of the forms in the forefront," remarks art historian, Peter Clothier, of the piece. Edwards worked on a number of successful films during the Anvil period, including the creation of three Pink Panther films, as well as the 1979 film 10.
The early 1980s were not only a prolific time for his film career, beginning with Victor/Victoria (1982) among others, but also marked the continuation of the Anvil, Floating Spaces, Flowers, and watercolors series. Within his collections of paintings and watercolors, he maintains the same sense of narrative humor that is distinctive of his films as evident in selections from the Floating Spaces series including Pickup Sticks and Tit for Tat. "These works share a joyful and even lyrical quality that include more experimentation with the progression of color and communicate his growing familiarity with the medium," comments Clothier.
The year 1983 marked his segue into sculpture, which was a result of his work on the film The Man Who Loved Women. The film‘s plotline revolved around the male lead, who was a sculptor. When Edwards could not find any suitable sculptures for the film, he started working with bronze sculptures himself and quickly became enthralled with the new medium. He developed an appreciation for English sculptor Henry Moore‘s grand size pieces and this admiration is illustrated by his 1993 piece Patience. Installed in the lobby of the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, the piece is one of Edwards‘ many sculptures depicting mother and daughter and is reflective of his deep love of family.
In late 1980s, Edwards went on to explore and express a darker side with the Circus series. This group of paintings emerged from a period of both personal and professional turmoil for Edwards. He was facing a period of depression, while simultaneously dealing with the ever changing film industry, an increasing source of conflict for Edwards. Works from this series include Monkey Do and Struttin and evoke the world of the clown, where the viewer‘s laughter disguises the pain of punishing events. In these paintings and in his films, Edwards is "fascinated by the portrayal of the inept victim subjected to the whims of the world," comments Clothier.
The 1990s were more peaceful for Edwards as he spent a significant amount of time working in his Swiss mountain home and his Los Angeles studio, which allowed him the opportunity to really thrive and expand artistically. This period of concentration gave way to the Suisse series in 1993. Paintings such as Blue Moon and Village include images of Alpine Villages and "illustrate the same point of view found in the Anvil series, where use of lines and colors draw attention to the sculptural object in the center," observes Clothier. His paintings then progress to the Modern series and the decade culminates with the Geometric series, which illustrates Edwards‘ mastery of shape and color. During this time he was also working on the 1994 Broadway version of his hit film Victor/Victoria.
The 2000s reveal Edward‘s continuing development as an artist, building on his previous periods. This era marks his experimentation with mixed media, with the later pieces following in the geometric style, integrated with different elements, such as animal forms. Like other previous artists, Edwards continues to find different sources of inspiration, which are reflected in these new works and demonstrate his evolving artistic style.