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Orson Welles as a Graphic Artist

posted by Tim Carmody   Mar 22, 2019

There are so many sides to Orson Welles that one of them is bound to get overlooked. Welles was a groundbreaking screen and voice actor, screenwriter, film director, radio producer, etc., etc. He was also a remarkable visual artist, which comes through in his films but is often attributed away to his great collaborators like cinematographer Gregg Toland. Even as a child, teen, and very young man, Welles was almost ruined by the fact that everything he did, he seemed to do so much better than the people around him. He was an undiscriminating prodigy, which is a very dangerous thing to be.

A new documentary by Mark Cousins, The Eyes of Orson Welles, focuses on Welles’s output in drawing, sketching, painting. It tries to recenter visual art as an essential, not accidental part of Welles’s work, and at the same time use it as a pathway to try to understand him as a person and artist.

I haven’t seen this documentary, but I’m very excited about it. Welles is one of those figures whose genius in his work almost obscures him; any new route in is welcome. It also doesn’t feel like a typical hagiographic documentary; it feels appropriately irreverent and experimental, two things which Welles almost was.