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Robert Tanenbaum

My most recent interview, filmed less than two weeks ago, was with artist and poster illustrator Robert Tanenbaum.

Tanenbaum’s work includes such films as The Color of Money, Outrageous Fortune, the Blaxploitation classics Super Fly and Cleopatra Jones, the horror films Cujo, Black Christmas, and The Legend of Hell House, as well as the perennial holiday favorite, A Christmas Story. He also painted numerous illustrations for the marketing campaign behind Universal Studios’ JAWS attraction, as well as album covers (including for The Carpenters), and portraits for The Franklin Mint.


A few of the poster illustrations by Tanenbaum’s hand were ultimately not used in the final film campaigns. You can see an archive of his works, both used and unused, on the artist’s website, which also offers signed prints. (I myself bought a beautiful poster concept he did for The Sting.) It’s a fascinating look into alternate ideas for movie marketing. Best of all, each one was done the old fashioned way: with pencils and paints on paper and canvas!


Happily, a retrospective art book is also available. The Movie Poster Art of Robert Tanenbaum was published just last fall, and is a must-have for any fan of classic film or vintage poster art.

While Tanenbaum never met Amsel, I felt it was important to get a testimonial from him. It’s a sad truth that only a handful of artists from that generation are still with us. To see someone like Robert Tanenbaum still working – with paints and canvas, no less! – is something we should all be grateful for.


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