Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Off Piste

To mark the Thanksgiving holiday and the approaching ski season let's look at the various depictions Searle made over the years of those dedicated to flinging themselves down a mountain slope- an endeavour Searle himself avoided. He was content to observe and record the spindly figures, their poles and skis make perfect spidery  members of the Searle universe.

These colour compositions from the mid 60s are delightful-Searle reduces his linework and the figures approach the more Abstract-Expressionist style of the 'Baron Munchausen' period.

The following are from 'Skiing in Europe' for Travel & Leisure October/November 1971

This is from a later series for an Aspen, Colorado Chamber of Commerce advertisement published in the autumn of 1991 where we see Searle gently ribbing the Aspen ski set.

'Aspen Nights'
 "Sightings (It's Jack!')"

'Powder Skiing'

'On Corkscrew Mountain'
18 x 14" image size on a 19.5 x 15 sheet

'Great Bumps'
'Ski School'

And the inevitable casualties . . .

'I have never taken an interest in skiing.  I am not a skier, and I can imagine nothing more unlike me than slipping down a slope with a board on each foot for the sheer pleasure of it.  The sight of people deliberately setting off for ski resorts for the enjoyment of that sport had previously convinced me that a fair proportion of the population was seriously out of its mind. . . '
'I still feel that I am not entirely wrong, but I have revised my thoughts about the sport from the visual point of view.  I had never seen anyone ski until it was suggested that I make my way to New England, take along a sketchbook and, with it, a slightly less idiotic frame of mind . . .'

'Bruegel has always been one of my favourite artists and he was the last person I had expected to be invoked on that trip.  But he was there, with all his grotesquery,  all his color, all his comicality and all his little people, animating and sporting themselves against crisp landscapes. . .'

'Visually ski slopes have captivated me, and I have decided that there are few things more beautiful than the colourfully packaged human frame silhouetted against the snowslopes- except the sight of a fair share of them falling flat on their colourfully packaged behinds!'

R.S. Vermont Life Magazine 1966

(Thanks to Stephen Nadler for additional info & pics)

When it came to animation projects Searle's favourite collaborator was British animator Ivor Wood. He later became known for stop-motion puppet series such as 'Postman Pat' but was a skilled draughtsman and could mimic the Searle line accurately with multiple animation drawings.  They animated Searle's spindly legged skiers for a French commercial promoting a petroleum company.

Monday, November 05, 2012

One more book plug!

Helen Walasek has put out another handsome collection of past cartoons from the Punch magazine archives -this time a fine selection of colour work including several Searle covers and his 'Heroes Of Our Time' series.

It also contains glorious reproductions of cartoons by Fougasse, E H Shepard, Rowland Emett, H M Bateman, Arthur Watts, Anton, Russell Brockbank, Quentin Blake, Norman Thelwell, André François, Trog, With  a foreword by Quentin Blake and over 400 cartoons it's available at a very decent price on Amazon uk