The documentary Amsel: Illustrator of the Lost Art presents the first in-depth profile of legendary illustrator Richard Amsel (1947-1985), detailing the artist’s remarkable body of work while chronicling an enigmatic life marked with personal heartbreak, celebrity friendships, creative genius, and a tragic end at the age of thirty-seven from AIDS.
Amsel remains a titanic figure within the realm of entertainment art, with work ranging from celebrated movie posters (Raiders of the Lost Ark), to iconic album and concert posters (including famous portraits of Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand), to magazine covers. Yet while the artist’s work garnered considerable popularity, little has ever been revealed about the man himself.
This is not just a documentary about a movie poster artist. It is a human story of an artistic savant who achieved his first extraordinary success at the age of 21. It is a time capsule of New York’s gay culture in the seventies...and the onslaught of AIDS in the eighties. It is a reconstruction of a fractured life told through friends, celebrities, and colleagues, as well as a re-appreciation of an artist’s work.
I've been doing a number of interviews over the past few months, but there's plenty of road ahead. Nevertheless, I wanted to get the documentary's website off the ground early, as filming it will no doubt be a complex journey, with twists and turns in directions I can't yet imagine.
More importantly, I felt it necessary to reach out to the public, as, in the months ahead, I hope to connect with those who either knew Richard Amsel, or whose lives were touched by the man or his work in some way.
There will also be a crowdfunding campaign in 2016, which is still in the planning stages.
The teaser poster, presented here, features a modified photo of Richard Amsel by the late photographer Kenn Duncan. Special thanks to the permissions office at The New York Public Library for allowing me to use Duncan's photo for this early internet campaign.