Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frank Brangywn Video

(Direct link to video) Painter, etcher, and muralist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) is captured in a vintage interview in this documentary teaser.

An actor represents Brangwyn as charming and bubbly as he discusses working from photo reference: "Took it from a photograph. People didn't talk about using photographs. 'Not done! Cheating!' Rubbish! Saved time and money, in addition to a sketchbook. Tremendously useful."

Anglo-Welsch Brangwyn, a great draughtsmen of the 20th century, was one of the teachers of American illustrators Dean Cornwell and Peter Helck.
Wikipedia on Frank Brangwyn
Book: Frank Brangwyn 1867-1956
Thanks, James Warhola

Corrections: The initial post was incorrect in assuming that the on-screen persona is the real Brangwyn. According to the producers, "The Brangwyn in the film is an actor...The great actor Sir Donald Sinden, who played Brangwyn's father in the film, suggested his friend and colleague, Rowland Davis, to play the part as the physical likeness was so extraordinary." The post has been revised to incorporate this correction.


Unknown said...

LOVE Brangwyn. I'd love to get my hands on a book of his work but the only one I have found available is too pricy. Do you know if any others?

Unknown said...

this is the book:

Tyler J said...

The interview looked to be an actor? The aging of the film looked pretty digital as opposed to actual archival footage.

Perhaps I'm just imagining it.

Aaron said...

love his comment on photo reference as a tool. I remember watching Drew Struzan's DVD on making the Hellboy movie poster, and he talked about his extensive use of photo-reference (while sitting there with several photos of a character taped to his drawing board). His view was pretty much the same, sometimes the ends justify the means. When you have say a week to finish a project, the luxury of drawing, erasing, redrawing (rinse and repeat) again and again, just isn't there.

James Gurney said...

Greg, yes, physical books on Brangwyn are expensive. One of the best ones, though, is available as a free digital download from Google books. It's the 1910 edition called "Frank Brangwyn and His Work" by Walter Shaw Sparrow. It was published in his early heyday, and there are a lot of Brangwyn's thoughts about the art world of his time.

Tyler, as far as I know it's the real dude. Peter Doherty tells me on FB that "the presenter is Libby Horner who I believe is the foremost Brangwyn expert in the UK, she curated a great exhibition on Brangwyn in Leeds in 2006."

William, I think Brangwyn's view on photography is completely sensible, keeping in mind the proviso "with a sketchbook."

Has anyone seen the whole documentary?

Daroo said...

Thanks for the post.

I like the way Brangwyn uses big bold shapes in and then subdivides those shapes with textural details.

Didn't he lend Sargent his studio so that he could do the Boston Murals?

That's got to be a an actor. Everything about it is too formalistically perfect. The Imagery seems processed and even the rhythms of the dialog dovetail perfectly with the modern film -- They act in a transitional capacity instead of the usual sidebar effect that a normal interview has. It feels Imagineered -- I love it.

My Pen Name said...

looks like an interesting documentary, but i have to throw my hat in with those who think its an actor - the scratches look like a digital effect and the audio and film quality are way too high quality- highly doubtful 35mm would have been used...
I think its a dramatized reading of the actual interview.

James Gurney said...

Edit: for those in the comments who question whether that is really Brangwyn, or an actor impersonating him, I have added a photo of FB to the post. It's from the National Portrait Gallery, taken in 1936, 16 years before the film is supposed to have been shot.

I personally believe the film is authentic. Why would the producers bother to misrepresent this? Remember, he was born in 1867. It's rare to see someone born that early interviewed on sound film. My guess is that he wrote up and memorized some notes and tried to make them "natural," but they came across with an actor's flair. I believe we in the YouTube age have come to accept a different standard of what looks natural in film.

But I love the debate!

Anonymous said...

Who's to say the original film hasn't gone through some digital process? Some Blu-Rays of older films look 'modern' too. Digital scrubbing, contrast changes, synthetic grain filter, possibly done to enhance a deteriorated or low fi image.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was an actor also, and the film looked suspicious.

From the Youtube page:

Frank Brangwyn, in 'archival footage', discusses his achievements, working methods and views on art.

I think it is significant that "archival footage" is in quotes.

Daroo said...

On the Dvd Box it has "archival footage" italicized.

Also it lists Sam Beazley in the credits. He is an actor in one of the Harry Potter Films. He is also an artist:

SamBeazleyBlog spot.com

There are pictures of him.

Daroo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Gurney said...

For an example of the style of diction and formal presentation of a gentleman about 10 years older than Brangwyn, see this classic 1928 film of George Bernard Shaw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40VegR6uaTI

Shaw was from Dublin and Brangwyn was Welsh, but with both there's a musical cadence that comes from a tradition of recitation and oratory. Things began to change with F.D. Roosevelt's fireside chat style, which brought a slightly more informal style of speech to spoken presentation.

I'm still 100% convinced that Brangwyn is the real deal.

Daroo said...

Sam Beazley's
photo seems similar ...

Anonymous said...

Compare the structures of the eyelids....Brangwyn had baggy lower lids and thin upper lids; it's the opposite of the actor in the video, who has thick upper lids and comparatively small lower lids.

Roberto said...

Tough crowd Jimi G., tough crowd!
Thanx for the post and intro to another outstanding artist. -RQ

Tim said...

Id also venture to say its Sam Beazley. If you look at this picture from his blog, he wearing a ring on his little finger, just like in the Brangwyn interview.


Chris Dunn said...

If that is Frank Brangwyn in the 'archival footage' I'll eat my hat, but wait I don't have a hat!? OK, I'll go out, buy a hat and then eat it.

James Gurney said...

The skeptics are right! I'm wearing the dunce cap.

I inquired to Goldmark films about the Brangwyn vs. actor controversy, and received this response from Em Goldmark: "The Brangwyn in the film is an actor. You are quite right to point out in your blog that the Brangwyn expert Dr Libby Horner was consultant to the film, enabling us to direct our actor to provide such an authentic performance.

You may be interested to learn that the great actor Sir Donald Sinden, who played Brangwyn's father in the film, suggested his friend and colleague, Rowland Davis, to play the part as the physical likeness was so extraordinary."

James Gurney said...

Libby Horner, Frank Brangwyn expert, comments:

"I have just come across your blog and the fascinating debate about whether this was the 'real' Brangwyn. The actor was Sam Beazley whom I chose because he was an actor, artist and admirer of Brangwyn's work and also a very lively character. The words were written by me but based on extensive research on his views about art, materials, photographs - and also his speech pattern. We filmed Sam/Brangwyn in Brangwyn's old house in Ditchling, with Sam sitting on a chair previously owned by the artist and various Brangwyn artefacts in the background.

"I don't know where Em's information is from - but Sir Donald played his own father - not Brangwyn's - and never mentioned anything about Rowland Davis. Sir Donald's father was the local pharmacist and, as such, developed Brangwyn's photographs.

"I do have a copy of some real archival film footage (very short) of Brangywn but not with sound and unfortunately nobody told him one could move so he tends to just smile vaguely at the camera!

"The best books about Brangwyn are those published recently - and they aren't massively expensive - Mission to Decorate Life can be downloaded as a PDF from lissfineart.com - details of the others can be found at http://www.frankbrangwyn.org/recommended%20reading.html