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The Art of Joseph Mugnaini

VFX artist artist Ryan Leasher is writing a book about illustrator and animation artist Joseph Mugnaini. His book, Wilderness of the Mind: The Art of Joseph Mugnaini, contains a Forward by Ray Bradbury and is currently set for publication in early 2010 from Art of Fiction.

Mugnaini is best known in animation circles for his work on Icarus Montgolfier Wright, the 1962 animated short produced by Format Films, which received an Academy Award nomination. All the artwork for the film was done by Mugnaini, based on an original story by Ray Bradbury; It was produced by Jules Engel, directed by Osmund Evans with narration by James Whitmore and Ross Martin. The painting above is from the film.

Leasher tells us that he obtained “a lot of materials relating to Icarus. Lee Klynn had a great number of items–including orignal artwork, the shooting dialogue script, etc. We’ve currently slated approximately 50 pages in the book for Icarus artwork – including concept artwork for post-Icarus projects with Format that never materialized..”

Other notable animation projects for Mugnaini were Concept, a pitch film for the Hollywood Museum in 1964, on which he did all the artwork; as with Icarus it was a static art, animated camera affair but with better use of multi-plane cameras; and Room for Heroes, a 1971 Walt Disney educational film about American folk heroes for which Joe did background paintings

Ryan also tells us:

We’ve had unrestricted access to the estate’s archives and, most importantly, to Joe’s journals. What we’ve found is nothing short of amazing. The book will include many pieces from Joe’s journals and give an unparalleled view into Joe’s creative process.

Joe is best know as the illustrator for many of Ray Bradbury’s books, including their first collaboration on Golden Apples of the Sun, the iconic Fahrenheit 451, The October Country, and my personal favorite The Halloween Tree. No previous book has come even close to showing the depth of the collaboration between Joe and Ray Bradbury. We’ve got stunning concept work, including the very first and never-before published Fahrenheit 451 sketches. They were discovered during the research, hidden in a scrapbook in the estate archives, safely tucked away by Joe’s wife Ruth some 45 years ago.

The book will include Joe’s views and teachings on art. Although Joe was best known to many as an artist and illustrator, his greatest impact was as a teacher. His focus on the structure of form has found purchase in animation studies; Walt Stanchfield references Joe’s approach to form and structure in his lecture series.

We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the reproductions will be as close to the original pieces as possible, with an emphasis on color reproduction. The book will also present many 1:1 reproductions of segments of Joe’s larger pieces so the reader can appreciate and closely examine Joe’s mind-blowing line work.

Sounds like a book we have to have. For updates, check the Wilderness of the Mind website.