Thursday, January 01, 2015

Heinz Edelmann, a Brief Review

I hope you all had a splendid start to your new year. With sometime till things kick in for me, I thought I would write about one of my favorite artists: Heinz Edelmann. There are many good reviews of his life and history so mine will be more about his range as an artist and the impact of his work shaping an era.

So much of the 60's was about 'change', and I think much of it led to very positive changes that are now being challenged again. I'd better stop there before going into a full blown rant on politics, but it was within this environment of experimentation and change that Edelmann influenced a generation or two with his work.

Any cursory viewing of his paintings and illustrations immediately show a diverse understanding of drawing and color, and a multiplicity of styles. Edelmann was a chameleon, always changing media and design. His commercial works show a playful and radical departure from the normal conventions in composition and layout which suited the radical changing times these publications were trying to address. This spilled over to his book illustrations which look just as fresh and exciting today, if only a little nostalgic.

It's not surprising that Heinz would be contacted by other prominent artists wanting to make an impact: The Beatles. Heinz singlehandedly created the look of Pepperland and all its residence, including monsters and mop-tops for "Yellow Submarine". It was such an arduous task that it almost killed him and he hated to talk about the experience in later years. A little taste of his discontent can be seen in the picture showing Ringo's head served on a platter, and the people of Pepperland tearing the flesh, and drinking the brains of the Blue Meanies! 

Because he was influenced by innovators and was an innovator, Heinz work became lost in the psychedelic haze of the times. Other people with louder voices started putting their stamp on the 'groovy' look and even his work on "Yellow Submarine" was for many years thought to have been done by imitator, Peter Max.

Heinz went on to teach a new generation of artists to think in radical terms.  His wide ranging abilities show a draftsman of great imagination.  Heinz Edelmann was no one trick pony, and I'm glad he left a body of work that attests to that fact.

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