Saturday, April 16, 2011

Star Wars Art: Visions

I'm a big Star Wars fan. Says so right there in my profile. And, if that doesn't convince you, there are always my past posts about my Lego TIE Interceptor and my voice-command R2-D2. And I haven't even told you about my Star Wars Pez Dispensers, my Darth Vader coin banks (yes, that's plural), my voice changing Darth Vader helmet/mask, my Luke Skywalker Force FX lightsaber, My AT-AT "minature" game piece (which stands about 13 inches tall!) or my Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head yet!. I mean, I wouldn't want to give anyone the impression that I'm some kind of geek!

That's why a book entitled "Star Wars Art: Visions" (© 2010, Lucasfilm Ltd., published by Abrams, New York) caught my attention at a nearby Chapters book store last Christmas. This book is the realization of one of George Lucas' many "Star Wars" money-making merchandising schemes, er, that is, "projects". In this case, he decided to commission some of the world's most recognized artists, including names such as Syd Mead, H.R. Giger and Aoi Mishimata, to render their visions of the Star Wars universe. They were given a wide leeway to create whatever they wanted, the only stipulation being that their work had to be in "the spirit of the movies". The book showcases their work and it is indeed fascinating. The renderings range from straightforward homages to the poignant, bizarre and just plain off the wall.

As I leafed through the pages last Christmas, I smiled, I chuckled, I raised an eyebrow and rubbed my chin thinking "Interesting" but I didn't think I was quite interested enough to justify the book's $48 price tag, so I finally set it down and moved on. Unfortunately, it was too late. The images that I had browsed had gotten under my skin and continued to tug at my mental sleeves. Every time I've returned to Chapters since then, I've caught myself looking for the book once again, unsuccessfully (as there was only one copy when I first found it) ... until yesterday. Yesterday I once again found myself at that same Chapters bookstore and, this time, the Star Wars art book that simply refused to leave me alone since last December, was once again in stock. What could I do but to finally acquiesce and purchase a copy?

While some of the artwork therein depicts scenes straight out of the movies, such as this...


...and this...

JACOB A. PFEIFFER - "Luke's Lesson" favorite works are some of the more whimsical and avant-garde offerings. Here are a few samples.

When Darth Vader saw the Batmobile, he must have said to himself "That is SO cool! I need a car like that!" So he set his Imperial designers to work and they finally came up with this:

DOUGLAS FRASER - "1/24th Scale"

Wookiees have an undeserved reputation as brutish barbarians who can't even get through a friendly game of holographic chess without pulling somebody's arms out of their sockets. The truth is, they're among the most gentle, domesticated creatures in the galaxy, as evidenced by the charming family portrait below:

MAYA GOHILL - "Wookiee Family Portrait"

Our next exhibit depicts a tribe of frontier-era American Indians paying homage to Seythreepaya, the Sun Spirit:

GARY CARTER - "Untitled"

Why are there so many songs about Sith Lords and what's on the darker side?
Sith Lords are fearsome, but Jedi are heroes and Jedi have nothing to hide.
They crave not glory, adventure, excitement, serious their ponderings must be.
Some day we'll find it, the great Force connection, the Sith Lords, the Jedi and me.

PETER DE SÈVE - "Easy Being Green, It's Not"

This next one looks like something that Norman Rockwell might have painted. I'm certain that it must once have adorned the cover of the Naboo Evening Post:

ALLAN R. BANKS - "Freedom Day"

Dave Nestler apparently thought about what would happen if someone were to cross "Star Wars" with George Lucas' earlier film, "American Graffiti", and came up with this:

DAVE NESTLER - "Double Cheeseburger with a Side of Crumb"

Even Darth Maul was somebody's baby once as this next painting, which has almost religious undertones, proves. I've often wondered whether more than just his head was tattooed. I guess now we know:

WILL WILSON - "Dawn of Maul"

This somewhat (ahem) "erotic" painting of a Twi'lek dancing girl looks like something out of some Star Wars geek's wet dream. If this painting turns you on, seek help! (And don't infer anything from the fact that I happen to know that the race is called "Twi'lek" even though it's never actually mentioned in any of the movies).


Didn't Toto have a hit song about her?
All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes
Yobana, Yobana...

But my personal favorite from the entire collection is the one that was chosen to adorn the book's cover. I think this cuts through Darth Vader's cold, unfeeling facade and poignantly depicts his inner sadness and loneliness. He may have shown no visible reaction when Obi-wan called him "More machine than man ... twisted and evil" but deep down inside it hurt, friend; it hurt.

MASEY - "Regrets"

Finally, I wonder if George Lucas, watching Chuck Yeager make his cameo appearance as the bartender at Pancho's in "The Right Stuff", thought to himself "Hey! I wish I'd thought of that! I could have made an appearance in the Tatooine Cantina; you know, like Hitchcock used to do in his movies..."

PAUL G. OXBOROUGH - "The Mos Eisley Cantina with George Lucas as the Bartender"

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