Friday, April 22, 2011
Good Art For Good Friday
To celebrate this solemn day, here is a piece of art created for the "Making Of" book all about MGM's Ben-Hur (1959). To call this hardcover book (published by Random House) a "program" is akin to calling Ben-Hur itself a slideshow, but this volume was issued in 1959 in conjunction with the film's first theatrical release, and was sold in the lobbies of the theaters showing the film in its roadshow presentation. (I wonder if the "program" was also sold in bookstores?) Part of this deluxe volume is a series of beautifully rendered artworks, perforated and "suitable for framing," which as the book states, are illustrator Ben Stahl's conceptions of scenes from the epic film. Being "A Tale of the Christ," Ben-Hur features a dramatic portrayal of the crucifixion, and Stahl's powerful painting captures its drama with an emotional punch. (Since Ben-Hur focuses on reactions of witnesses to this public execution, so does the painting.) Believe it or not, Disney fans, there's a Disney connection: Ben Stahl wrote (and illustrated) the 1965 book Blackbeard's Ghost on which Walt Disney's 1968 film was based.