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Richard Amsel’s Sparkle and Shine

Lily Tomlin Time CoverRichard Amsel is one of my favorite illustrators from the ’70s and ’80s. Amsel first came to prominence when, as a college student, he won a contest to illustrate the poster for Barbra Streisand’s Hello Dolly. His portrait of Bette Midler on The Divine Miss M has become an icon of album cover art. He also did plenty of magazine covers (like this Time issue with Lily Tomlin from 1977), but it’s his movie poster designs for which he will be best remembered. His work has a bit of an Art Nouveau influence, but the main thing I associate with him is the realistic yet flattering softness in the famous faces he paints. It’s a look so unmistakeable that I can tell an Amsel without even seeing his stylized signature in the corner.

Amsel succumbed to AIDS in 1985. Check out more of his work at The American Art Archives (including a rather appalling example of a beautiful poster made into a crappy DVD cover).

One Thought on “Richard Amsel’s Sparkle and Shine

  1. Andrew Dupuy on May 23, 2007 at 12:40 pm said:

    Richard Amsel’s poster art for Flash Gordon is one of my favorites. I’ve had it as my computers wallpaper for a while now.

    I’ve watched DVD artwork become worse and worse over the last few years and it seems with every rerelease it’s less likely that the box will feature the film’s original promotions. For instance, the original release of Flash Gordon on DVD featured Amsel’s poster art and the upcoming release of the film doesn’t.
    Though Flash Gordon’s new DVD artwork looks far more appropriate than the one for “The John Wayne Collection” version of The Shootist.

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