Monday, August 08, 2005

The Smithsonian Insitute of Tweety

This isn't really much of a post, but I was looking over the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art Interviews, and I noticed that one of the interviewees, Boris Gorelick, was someone whose name I recognized from Warner Brothers cartoons. Specifically, he spent about a year as the background painter/designer for Friz Freleng, doing some of the most far-out and stylized backgrounds ever seen in a WB cartoon; every piece of furniture was crooked. (Freleng's layout man, Hawley Pratt, tended to give background designers more leeway to create the look of the backgrounds, unlike layout men like Robert Gribbroek and Maurice Noble, who basically designed everything and let the background man paint what they had already created.) He didn't work on all that many cartoons at WB, but he did do the Oscar-winning "Birds Anonymous" and the famous "Show Biz Bugs."

The interview with him is, of course, not about his cartoon work but his involvement, as a young man, with the WPA's famous Federal Art Project. However, I think it's kind of interesting that when he mentions his animation work, he mentions his stint at UPA and another one at Playhouse Films, but never mentions Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers cartoons at this time did not have a very high reputation among high-minded types, and histories of American animation up until the mid-'70s or so tend to write as if the only American studios that mattered were Disney and UPA. That's changed, of course, and even some WB artists who used to be somewhat dismissive of their Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies work were, as time went on, more willing to say good things about it.

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