Hollywood History: Cedric Gibbons and The Academy Award

In all fairness, Cedric Gibbons deserves the title of both "Art Director" and "Designer" for  his early Hollywood contribution as the official art director of  over 150 films beginning as early as 1919.  After assisting art director Hugo Ballin he soon signed with MGM for a career that would span 32 years.  Due to a contractual stipulation with MGM - which gave him credit for every MGM picture released in the United States - he was noted as art director for 1,500 films by the time he retired in 1956.

Apropos for this weekend, Mr. Cedric Gibbons is credited for overseeing the design of the Academy Award statuette in 1929 - this would be an award that he himself would be nominated for 39 times, winning 11 Oscars for films such as Pride and Prejudice (1940), Little Women (1949), An American in Paris (1951), and Somebody Up There Likes Me (1957).

The Oscar, officially named the Academy Award of Merit, stands 13 1/2 inches tall and weighs 8 1/2 pounds and still remains true to the original design by Cedric Gibbons.

Designed by Gibbons as a knight holding a crusader's sword standing atop a film reel for the first Academy Awards in  1929.
It is believed that his motion picture influence helped to inspired theatre architecture from the 1930s through the 1950s. The style, referred to as Art Deco and his influence can still be seen today in various theatres around southern Los Angeles.

...now the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA
It is still argued to this day that he may have been the most influential art director in the history of American cinema.   It's undeniable that Gibbons had an indelible affect on the history of Hollywood and it's only fitting that this weekend we celebrate one of his famous contributions - The Golden Man himself, Oscar.

Some fun Oscar facts:

The first recipient of the Academy Award of Merit went to Emil Jannings, best actor in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh

The statue was sculpted by LA artist George Stanley

The award has been handed out 2,701 times

While the true origins of the nickname "Oscar" are not clear, Margaret Herrick is said to have thought that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar upon seeing the award for the first time.  The Academy didn't officially adopt the nickname until 1939.

If you are in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the Bob Peak: Creating the Modern Movie Poster exhibit at the Academy building's 4th floor gallery; details here.

For the Oscar fashionistas out there, check out some facts about Natalie Portman's Oscar season wardrobe courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter:

Natalie has made 17 red-carpet appearances to promote Black Swan

She has worn dresses form 10 different designers

She's work the likes of Lanvin, Jason Wu, Azzaro, Rodarte, and Michael Kors more than once

She's carried a Dior clutch 11 times (remember, she's the face of Miss Dior Cherie fragrance)

Considered her "stand out" dress thus far - the Viktor & Rolf at the Globes earlier this year.

Special thanks again to L.A. La Land.

Blind Contour

Popularized by artist and author Kimon Nicolaides, Blind Contour drawing is a design discipline where the artist fixes their eye on the outline of a model or object and draws the contour very slowly with one continuous line - never looking at the pencil or pen. This was often a training aid for students but became a specific design technique after the publication of The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides who was on of the original US Camouflage Artists during World War I.

Ian Sklarsky, a Chicago artist is featured below and describes more about his work:

A few familiar faces from his newest collection:

For more about Ian Sklarsky, visit his website: www.iansklarsky.com

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie

More than just a brand, Mr. Sassoon is a revolutionary that helped to free women from the clutches of the 50's and liberate them with the low-maintenance hairstyles that are a defining part of the 1960s.  From Mia Farrow to model-turned-fashion editor Grace Coddington and Andy Warhol, Vidal Sasson was inspired by the clean lines made popular with midcentury architecture and his influence on modern fashion and iconic film imagery is still very apparent today.

Craig Teper, director of the new biodocumentary Vidal Sassoon: The Movie has said that "[Vidal] actually helped create the social revolution of the '60s."  This must-see film, about a man who changed the world with a pair of scissors, is now playing in NYC and Los Angeles.

[Images courtesy of Vidal Sasoon The Movie]

Designer Profile: William Haines

A blog friend of The Aesthetic Omnivore recently posted a great article about the historic actor-slash-designer William Haines (1900-1973).  She has personally provided us with a little introduction to this legendary designer to the stars:

Opening an antique shop on La Brea Ave across from Chaplin Studios in 1929, he quickly built up an illustrious clientele, including pals Joan Crawford and Constance Bennett. The beauty his self-designed home at 1712 N Stanley had brought enough gasps from visitors, including Irving G. Thalberg, that his wealthy friends started asking him for advice on how to decorate their own expansive abodes. And so, out of a few unpaid favors to friends like Carole Lombard, whose home he transformed for free, Billy rose to fame as the Hollywood hacienda favorite, responsible for the interior design of the homes of George Cukor, Jack Warner, and Betsy Bloomingdale to name a few. Moving offices to 8720 Sunset Blvd, where BLT Steak stands today, Billy's star as a style icon continued to rise without faltering over the next 47 years of his life. In time, with the help of assistant Ted Graber he began designing furniture as well, such as the "Seniah" chair (Haines backwards). No longer were homes a compilation of others' artistry with a hint of the Haines taste-- white on white, chinoiserie, and well-placed antiques being his token trends-- but his own clever inventions were also being bought, sold, and implied into the lush mansions of the Hollywood elite.

William Haines passed away in 1973 after making a landmark career in interior design from Los Angeles to the House of Windsor. Insinuating his own class, astute taste, and unprecedented eye for detail into every project he did, he changed the very idea of beauty from the clunky and over-extravagant, Spanish-style pleasure palaces so popular in his own day to the clean, precise, and communicative living spaces of the modern era. William Haines didn't decorate rooms, he translated the personalities of his clients into physical structures, giving them the homes they had always wanted, reflections of their own true selves-- very vain, and very, very Hollywood. His work is still available today, but perhaps more profound than his lasting pieces is the influence he had on the industry itself, which, like his film performances, has stood the test of time.
 - Meredith Grau, Author L.A. La Land


Well, the flu has hit the Omnivore hard this week and slowed us down a bit.  We decided to compile some of our favorite things of the week - check out the below:

FIDM held their annual soiree to launch the opening of the display of Oscar nominated costumes - open Feb 8th - April 30th.

Wired showcases vintage posters that reflect a century of innovation.

Belgium's PRIME TV promotes their TV lineup with  mini dioramas filmed by director/designer/animator Steven Huybrechts.

Andreia Chaves debuts her Invisible Shoe collection - available at I.T. Hong Kong and I.T. Beijing in March.

Our friends at Fantasticsmag present their "Fave" series with Kristy photographed by Joel Espisito and Casey Skinner (of Make Me A Supermodel fame) photographed by Max-Arthur Mantel.

Nowness presents a beautiful video edit of their remix/recap of the best of 2010.

Be well.