abstract art, animation, artist as brand, British humor, cartoonist, cartoons, digital media, digital painting, drawing, Gerald Scarfe, illustration, illustrators journal, innovation, Levinland studio, lon levin, Monty Python, nude sketch, nudes, prince charles, Ronald Searle, sketching, social media, the queen, this week in digital media on blogtalk radio
A FANTASTICALLY PROVOCATIVE ANIMATED PIECE SET TO PINK FLOYD’S MUSIC
A wonderful satirist and political cartoonist among his other talents, Scarfe is the epitome of British wit and cutting humor. Wholly original and wildly imaginative he is definately an artist worth taking a good look at.
Gerald Anthony Scarfe, CBE, RDI, (born 1 June 1936) is an English cartoonist and illustrator. He worked as editorial cartoonist for The Sunday Times and illustrator for The New Yorker. His most famous work outside of the United Kingdom was for rock group Pink Floyd, particularly on the The Wall album (1979), film (1982), and tour (1980-81, 2010-12) and his work as the production designer on the Disney animated feature, Hercules.
He is married to Jane Asher, whom he met in 1971 and married in 1981. They had a daughter in 1974 and two sons in 1981 and 1984.
Scarfe was born in St John’s Wood, London, and was severely asthmatic as a child. He spent many of his early years bed-ridden, and drawing became a means of entertainment as well as a creative outlet. It has been speculated that the grotesque and diseased images that often characterise his work are a result of these experiences. He has himself stated that the irreverence apparent in much of his work can be traced back to “dodgy treatments” and a reliance on what he feels were incompetent doctors.
He moved to Hampstead at the age of 14, being influenced by the work of Ronald Searle. He went to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (also part of the University of the Arts London) on Southampton Row (A4200) in Holborn, central London. He also went to the London College of Printing and East Ham Technical College (became Newham College of Further Education).
After briefly working in advertising, a profession he grew to dislike intensely, Scarfe’s early caricatures of public figures were published in satirical magazine Private Eye throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Beginning in 1960, he produced illustrations for Punch, The Evening Standard and The Daily Sketch. The Sunday Times magazine assigned Scarfe to cover the 1964 U.S. Presidential election. He continued work for The Sunday Times for two years, also producing several cover illustrations for Time magazine.
In the mid 1960s he took a job at the Daily Mail following a Dutch auction for his services with the Daily Express. His decision to work for the Daily Mail led to his estrangement from fellow cartoonist Ralph Steadman, alongside whom he had studied art at East Ham Technical College. Soon after, Steadman was commissioned to illustrate Scarfe and “produced an image that was half saint and half Superman, but with a disconnected heart”. Scarfe spent just a year working for the Daily Mail, during which time he was sent to provide illustrations from the Vietnam War.
Scarfe was approached to work with Pink Floyd after Roger Waters and Nick Mason both saw his animated BBC film A Long Drawn Out Trip. Pink Floyd’s 1974 programme for their tour in the UK and US, in the form of a comic, included a centre-spread caricature of the band. Scarfe later produced a set of animated short clips used on the 1977 In The Flesh tour, including a full-length music video for the song Welcome to the Machine. He also drew the cover illustration for their 1979 album The Wall, and in 1982 worked on the film version of The Wall, although he and Waters fell out with director Alan Parker during the latter stages of editing. As well as the artwork, Scarfe contributed 15 minutes worth of elaborate animation to the film, including a sequence depicting the German bombing campaign over England during World War II, set to the song “Goodbye Blue Sky”. He was also involved in the theatrical adaptation, including The Wall Concert in Berlin, where his animations were projected on a vast scale.
Scarfe continued to work with Roger Waters when he left Pink Floyd, creating the graphics and animation for Waters’ solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984) and its supporting tour.
Scarfe’s collaboration with Waters was marked in 2008 by the release of a signed limited-edition eight-print series, “Scarfe on the Wall”, which contained a monograph book with an extended new interview with Scarfe and was signed by Roger Waters.
Early editions of “Scarfe on The Wall” (by date of pre-order, not issue number) came with an additional print giving a total of nine in the set – making these the rarest and most valuable sets. This was by way of an apology either by Gloria or Scarfe himself for a delay in the delivery of pre-ordered editions. The additional print is of similar size and quality, but unsigned. Unusually, Scarfe on the Wall has no formal packaging – it was sent out wrapped in plain bubble wrap.
He provided caricatures of Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds (as their respective characters) for the opening and closing sequences of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Reportedly, Fowlds attempted to purchase Scarfe’s original sketches, but they were too expensive.
Scarfe was approached to work on the 1997 Disney film Hercules by Ron Clements and John Musker, long time fans who had risen to prominence within Disney following the success of The Little Mermaid. Scarfe worked as a conceptual character artist, designing almost all of the characters and then supervising the 900 Disney artists charged with adapting his designs for the film.
His caricatures of Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecambe, Joyce Grenfell, Les Dawson and Peter Cook featured on a set of five British postage stamps commemorating British comedians that were issued on 23 April 1998.
He was invited to create a sculpture for the Millennium Dome, which was entitled “Self Portrait”. The Dome’s chief executive PY Gerbeau said “it mirrors what we like – and what we don’t – about our nation”.
Scarfe has designed sets for a number of operatic productions, including an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. Following a chance meeting at a BBC prom he worked with Peter Hall on his version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which drew critical acclaim. He is lined up to provide animation for Jim Steinman’s Bat out of Hell, a stage show featuring Steinman’s music.
Scarfe also designed the sets and costumes for the English National Opera’s 1988 production of Orpheus in the Underworld and it is interesting to note that the mythological characters Orpheus, Eurydice, and the Gods of Mount Olympus were among the costumes that Scarfe designed.
He also produced all the costume and scenery designs for the 2002 Christopher Hampson production of The Nutcracker, created for the English National Ballet.
Heroes and Villains
In 2003 Scarfe collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery and BBC Four to make caricatures of a number of famous Britons, to depict (along with guest commentary) their heroic and villainous attributes. Amongst the over 30 portraits he depicted included caricatures of Henry VIII, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Pete Best, Richard Branson, Adam Smith, William Blake, The Beatles, Agatha Christie and Diana, Princess of Wales. He also created a caricature of James May out of Lego which was shown in James May’s Toy Stories.
On 22 November 2005 the United Kingdom’s Press Gazette named its 40 most influential journalists, and included Scarfe alongside just two other cartoonists, Carl Giles, and Matt Pritchett.
Scarfe was awarded ‘Cartoonist of the Year’ at the British Press Awards 2006.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours. In 2011, a fossil pterosaur discovered in Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, was named Cuspicephalus scarfi in his honour.