Amoeblog

Happy Birthday, Gustaf Tenggren!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 3, 2010 12:01am | Post a Comment
Today is the birthday of Gustaf Adolf Tenggren, a Swedish-American illustrator who worked on some of Walt Disney's most famous films. Had he not died in 1970, he would be 114 years old today.

    

Tenggren was born November 3rd, 1896 in  Magra Parish, in Västra Götaland CountySweden. His parents Aron and Augusta had seven children -- Gustaf was the second youngest. Gustaf 's father, Aron, was a painter and decorator, just like his father, Johan Teng, had been. After relocating the family to Göteborg in search of steadier support, he left the family and moved to the US.

  

Gustaf began working as a runner boy and as an apprentice by a lithographer's shop at eleven, to help support the family. After his artistic talent was observed, he obtained a scholarship in 1910 to, at only thirteen, attend the local art school, Slöjdföreningens skola.

In 1914 he received a scholarship at Valand, an art school in  Göteborg. His earliest subjects were Swedish through and through, illustrating Swedish folk and fairy tales for the annual Bland Tomtar och Troll, although their style was heavily indebted to Englishman Arthur Rackham's style. In 1918, he married his first wife, Anna Peterson. He first exhibited his work publicly in 1920. After that, he and his wife promptly moved to Cleveland, Ohio to join his sister. 

  

Two years later he moved to New York City. There, like fellow-future Disney employee Kay Nielsen, he began illustrating children's books, especially fairy tales, including Tanglewood Tales, A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys and The Christ Story for Boys and Girls. At the same time, he began working for Milton Bradley, where he remained until 1939. In 1930, he also re-married another Swedish-American, Malin (or Mollie) Froberg.


In 1936 Tenggren was hired as chief illustrator and art director on Walk Disney's first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although Tenggren was a natural choice for the Brothers Grimm adaptation, most of the fine detail characteristic of his illustrations was evident in the background paintings. In fact, most of his work for Disney would be as a background artist.


He worked as an uncredited inspirational artist on 1937's The Old Mill and on the conceptual designs on 1940's Pinocchio. However, my favorite work he did at Disney was the Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria segment of 1940's Fantasia. For it, he, Vladimir Peter "Bill" Tytla, Kay Neilsen and others based their visuals on the story of Modest Mussorgsky's 1867 piece, Ночь на лысой горе ("Night on Bald Mountain"). Mussorgsky first began work on the piece in 1858. It was originally set on St. John's Eve (June 23), a Midsummer holiday on which, since pre-Christian times, various Northern and Eastern Europeans burn massive bonfires. The witches came in in 1860. In the cartoon, Chernabog, a Slavic demon, summons demons, ghosts, skeletons, witches, harpies, and other monsters for a sabbat before it segues into Franz Schubert's Ellens dritter Gesang for, in my opinion, a much less memorable segment (that I don't remember).

Tenggren quit Disney in 1940. A year later, he was followed by Alfred Abranz, Basil Davidovich, Bernie Wolf, Bill Meléndez, Bill Tytla, Bob Wickersham, Claude Smith, Cornett Wood, David Hilberman, Ed Love, Emery Hawkins, Frank Tashlin, Grant Simmons, Howard Swift, Jack Bradbury, John Hubley, Kenneth Muse, Maurice Noble, Preston Blair, Ray Patterson, T. Hee, Ted Bonnicksen, Tyrus Wong, Virgil Partch, Volus Jones, Walt Kelly, Walter Clinton, William Hurtz, Zack Schwartz and others. His last work at Disney was as an atmosphere sketch artist on 1942's Bambi.


    

After leaving Disney behind, he left his established style behind too. From 1942 till 1962, he worked for  Little Golden Books, illustrating with his new look books like Tawny Scrawny Lion, Little Black Sambo and The Poky Little Puppy. The latter became the best-selling English Language hard cover children's book of all time. In the well-known story, the titular puppy is repeatedly punished for indulging in his curiosity and individuality. He did still tackle fantasy subjects, including Canterbury TalesKing Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, The Giant with the Three Golden Hairs and Snow White and Rose Red.

Gustaf Tenggren died in 1970 at Dogfish Head in Southport, Maine. After his death, some Tenggren's art was donated to the University of Minnesota to be included in the Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature. In his memory, a nine-meter-tall bronze sculpture of Pinocchio, designed by artist Jim Dine, has been erected in Borås, a town near Tenggren's birthplace.

Father's Day (contains spoilers)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 20, 2010 09:16pm | Post a Comment


It's a Hallmark card not yet writ

Continue reading...

out today 11/3 & 11/10...mary onettes...nirvana...morrissey...cold cave...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 13, 2009 04:45pm | Post a Comment

I recently discoved the fantastic Mary Onettes. I find it hard to believe that I had never heard of them until now. Their new album Islands is out November 3rd, but I was suprised to find out that this is their second full length album. I quickly fell in love with this new album before I even knew anything about them-- I only knew they were on Labrador Records and were probably from Sweden. So I decided to do some investigating and found out this was not their first album. I felt kind of embarrassed that I had never heard of them before. How could this band have passed me by? They are exactly the kind of band that I fall in love with. Their first self titled album came out 2 years ago on my birthday, May 1st, 2007. I guess I was too busy listening to the Magic Position by Patrick Wolf and the deluxe reissue of the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, which also came out on the same day. I am also a bit mad at my friends -- how could they have not told me about this band? Maybe they just assumed I knew all about them already. Or maybe they had not heard about them either! I typically love all things from Sweden. Especially if you are a band still musically living in the late 80's and early 90's. Espcially if you are influenced by The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, and Echo and the Bunnymen. This band was sort of made for me. I know I just recently discussed this, but I will discuss it again. I am, of course, in love with this new album, and it was the first time that I heard the Mary Onettes, so it will most likely remain the album with that special place in my heart. I went back last week and discovered their first album for the first time but I didn't like it as much as the new one. I did like it though, and am actually liking it more and more as I listen to it more and more. I know those Mary Onettes fans that have liked them since their first album will probably find this new one not as good but that is just becuase they are hearing this new album years after already falling in love with that first record. It all really depends on when you were introduced to the band.

I completely fell in love with all things Swedemary onettes islands cdn a couple of years ago. Seeing as Mary Onettes are also from Sweden I am even more surprised that I didn't discover them back then. Here is my I love Sweden blog from a couple of years ago. My other favorites from Sweden are Pelle Carlberg, Sally Shapiro, Jose Gonzalez, Jens Lekman, Studio, The Knife, The Shout Out Louds, The Legends and ABBA! It makes me happy when I find a new band. And it gives me hope that there are a bunch more bands out there just waiting for me to discover. I would never complain that there is not enough good music out there. You just have to look around a bit.

So, back to the Mary Onettes. Once again, the new album is called Islands. They named it because they think of each song as its own little different shaped island. It is really a great little pop album. The songs are all catchy and tragic. There is a definite sadness beneath the songs. They fall somewhere in between goth, shoegaze, indie, and twee. The name of the band is a bit cute and silly but I like it. I hope they make it out to Los Angeles so I can see them! I suppose I should start planning my trip to Sweden. It seems like I belong there I guess. Maybe I would just fall in love with everything there and want to move there. I definitely feel some sort of kinship with the music but I don't think I have any Swedish blood flowing through my veins. But maybe one of my German great grandparents had a bit of Swedish in them! I am off to go learn more about Swedish music. I am sure my next favorite band will come from Sweden as well.

Here is a video for "Pleasure Songs" from the first Mary Onettes album...


and here is the audio for "Symmetry" from the new album Islands (my favorite song off the new album)...



also out 11/3...






Introducing by Brilliant Colors











Phrazes for the Young by Julian Casablancas










Love Comes Close by Cold Cave











Freedom of Choice & Q: Are We Not Men? reissues by Devo











Fantastic Mr. Fox Soundtrack











Suckin' It For the Holidays by Kathy Griffin











Machine Dreams by Little Dragon











Swords by Morrissey











Bleach reissue by Nirvana











Live at Reading by Nirvana











Memoryhouse reissue by Max Richter










Exquisite Corpse by Warpaint











Raditude by Weezer







also out 11/10...








Backtracks by AC/DC













Midwinter Graces by Tori Amos










Rewolf by Asobi Seksu












Never Cry Another Tear by Bad Lieutenant











Ignore the Ignorant by Cribs











Fountain by Echo & the Bunnymen











Live from the Royal Albert Hall CD/DVD by The Killers











Live at the 02 London England DVD by Kings of Leon











Received Pronunciation by Pants Yell!











Xenophanes by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez











Up To Now by Snow Patrol











Last of the Rock Stars by Ronnie Spector






Ingmar Bergman + 1918-2007

Posted by Job O Brother, July 30, 2007 10:25am | Post a Comment




 

(I vilket författaren diskuterar hans favoritt direktör.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 14, 2007 08:23am | Post a Comment

Today is Ingmar Bergman’s birthday!

I know – you’re ready to leap from the computer to rush out to buy a piñata and cake.

Or, more likely, you re-read the above sentence a couple times as your brain grappled with confusion over whether or not I wrote Ingrid Bergman. Quite possibly, some of you still think I did.


Actress Ingrid Bergman, star of "Casablanca" and the Bergman film "Autumn Sonata";
no relation to the director and much better looking in a dress.

I’m not being (intentionally) condescending; it’s just that that’s what seems to happen every time I gush about my most favorite film director.

Fellini, Buñuel, Pasolini, Hitchcock, Godard, Woody Allen… There are many film directors that cause me to go weak in the superego, but none of them so deeply penetrate my soul and slop it on the screen like ol’ Ingmar.

Furthermore, many of his films star his ex-wife and one of my favorite actresses, Liv Ullman.


Liv Ullman looking ravishing as she has a nervous breakdown in "Persona"

I’m the first to admit that his films aren’t for everyone. They’re an intimidating option when considering an evening’s entertainment. When faced with “what to do”, who in their right mind would subject themselves to a somber, cryptic and psychologically penetrating film in which handsome Swedes come to grips with their innermost core-of-self amidst Midnight Sun landscapes?

Me. I would subject myself. Sadly, I’m often alone for the ride. It’s hard to convince your date that a five hour epic like “Scenes From a Marriage” – in which you see a happy couple crumble toward divorce in episodes that make “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” seem like “Oliver & Company” – is good material for snuggling.


"Oh darling, I can hardly wait until your treachery leads me to contemplate suicide!"
Liv Ullman & Erland Jospehson in "Scenes From a Marriage"
My father was a proud Swede. Actually, most Swedes are proud Swedes. Listening to him speak about Swedish culture, you’d think the Garden of Eden still existed, and it’s capital was Stockholm. He took me there when I was a teenager for a disastrous trip that was meant to bring us closer together but instead ended up in me pretending to have the flu and hiding in my hotel room to watch Euro-Mtv while he went out in search of museums and got lost.

Even so, his expressions of admiration for Sweden had an impact on me; not in that I was hypnotized with amour for the country itself, rather, it became a reminder of everything that was my father. He was a typical Swede, so Swedes remind me of him. (He passed away in 2000.)

Oh… I suppose I should have mentioned that Ingmar Bergman is Swedish. Those of you who didn’t know were probably wondering what the hell was going on as I leapt from subject to subject without any semblance of continuity. Sorry!

Anyway, milkshakes are a delicious, cool, dessert beverage that are wonderful to attract ants with on a hot summer’s day.


I cite my relationship with my father because it accounts for some of the profound emotional impact that Bergman’s work has on me. Those of you who didn’t have stoic, Swedish dads who were raised by Victorian women (and many of you don’t, it seems) may not buckle in the face of Bergman’s work like I do. The final scene of “Through a Glass Darkly” ends with the son exclaiming in astonishment that his father “spoke” to him (meaning honestly) and it makes me cry every time.

Even so, you may find yourself deeply pondering the nature of your heart and mind after watching one of his movies. Bergman himself stated (in a 2004 interview) that he can no longer watch his own films because they "depress him". Ouch.

Many, many filmmakers cite Bergman as an influence, and any film student will/has been presented with his work.

There are dozens of hilarious spoofs of his films: Chevy Chase and Louise Lasser do a sketch in the first season of Saturday Night Live about tricking Death into leaving them alone by sending him away to pick up a pizza; SCTV has a great scene in which listless women babble in fake Swedish while accosted by midgets; the character of Death in "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" is a take-off of the Death character in “The Seventh Seal” and Woody Allen’s fantastic film “A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy” is rife with silly nods to the director.


"I would love to have children!" Happier times between Woody & Mia

Woody Allen very directly (no pun intended) went through a period wherein which he made films so obviously influenced by Ingmar that they are referred to as his “Bergman period”. They also account for the period in which fans of Woody’s comic pieces were frustrated and annoyed by him. Of these works, “Interiors” is the most obvious “Bergman film”.


Separated at birth: Scenes from Ingmar's "Autumn Sonata" & Woody's "Another Woman"

Are you still reading this? It’s not one of my funnier blogs. I get really worked up by Bergman.

If you’ve never seen any of his works, I recommend starting with “The Seventh Seal”. It’s his most famous, and it’s a good gauge to determine whether or not to continue with others. If you see it and like it, continue on with “Persona” (a personal favorite). If you hated it, try “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” because it is funny and has nothing to do with Bergman. At all.

And let me know what you think. I’m always curious to hear people’s opinions about his films.

Grattis på födelsedagen, Ingmar!