Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Illustrated Savoir Faire

We are all familiar with the work of one of the most prolific graphic illustrators of the late twentieth century; however how many of us actually know the name behind some of the most iconic movie posters ever created?

The same artist was also responsible for a mountainous volume of advertising copy for various companies which embodied all the savoir faire of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. In my humble opinion he could almost be the American equivalent of Rene Gruau.

The artist in question is Bob Peak, who has often been called the ‘father of the modern movie poster’. Singlehandedly he transformed the then traditional approach of movie advertising from basic collages of film stills or head shots to flamboyant artistic illustrations. His work included also included over 45 covers of Time with the most famous being his portrayal of Mother Teresa.

From advertising copy for companies such as Pepsi and Winston cigarettes to fashion illustration the Peak style is instantly recognizable. The subjects possessing all the savoir faire in the world as they use the featured product or wearing the featured clothes. Editorial illustrations were done for such magazines as Cosmopolitan and McCall’s.

TWA airlines commissioned posters, menus and magazine covers such as the ones below.

His movie poster career virtually took off when United Artists hired him to help promote west Side Story and the rest is history. The poster is a classic and recognized all over the world. Peak went on to create some of the most famous posters of the era including My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Hair, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Apocalypse Now and countless others, with his final movie poster being for James Bond’s The Spy who Loved Me, which I copied in High School.

The illustrations themselves are glamorous; they also convey an idealized world which the rest of us aspired to. Some of the most famous names whether they are movie stars, politicians or just the man in the street have had the Peak treatment.

One of his greatest commissions was from US Post for 30 stamps commemorating the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

They don’t draw them like this any more!

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