Saturday, March 9, 2013

Inspiration - Douglas Urbank

NEW - FPAC is asking what inspires artists' work in a new blog series called "Inspiration."  Check out what inspires Douglas Urbank, Fort Point artist and filmmaker.

"I make short experimental handmade films, but the artform I value most is drawing.  Long ago I made sculpture, but gave it up completely.  At some point I felt I had reached an impasse with my own drawing and turned to making films.  My representational drawings have often been inspired by film, but I never imagined I would be a filmmaker.

I’ve always listened to the radio, since childhood, and I am fairly tuned in to the sound world around me.  So another influence on my art is music or—more generally—sound, live or recorded.  Since 2001 I've hosted a radio program focusing on experimental music and sound art and have immersed myself in the local experimental music scene." - Urbank

Drawing, film, and music are all represented in this short list:

1. Mathis Gothart Nithart (aka Matthias Grünewald): (c. 1470 – August 31, 1528): Studie zu einer Klagenden Frau:  Incredibly delicate, alive and human.

2. Max Beckmann, (German 1884-1950): The Family, from the portfolio Hell:  One of the greatest draftsman ever.

3. Salvador Dali, (Spanish 1904-1989):  The City of Drawers, Study for The Anthropomorphic Cabinet.  I don’t care what anyone thinks about Salvador Dali, this is a beautiful and masterful drawing.

4. Brice Marden, (American 1938): Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge):  Inspired by the poems of Chinese poet Hanshan from the Tang Dynasty era.

5. Jacob Epstein, (American 1880-1959): Bust of Rebecca:  Known as a pioneer of modern sculpture, particularly for “Rock Drill”, Epstein also worked more naturalistically.  The first piece of his that I saw is The Visitation at the Hirsshorn Museum in Washington, DC , which caused a bit of a scandal.

6. Linda Hayden, from The Blood on Satan's Claw directed by Piers Haggard (British, 1939):  One of a handful of dark and pessimistic Vietnam era horror films, set in 17th century England. Great soundtrack and one of my favorite opening credit sequences.  The devil takes possession, one by one, of young people within a small village, in a creepy mirror of the youth rebellion of the 1960s.

7. Luther Price, American:  I first saw Luther Price’s film, Home, at Studio Soto before it had ever occurred to me to make a film myself.  Luther is the artist who introduced me to experimental filmmaking and showed me that I could make handmade films.  He is the real thing.

8. Living, directed by Frans Zwartjes, (Netherlands 1927) and starring Frans and his wife, Trix:  Zwartjes films are dryly hilarious and erotic with wild camera work, wonderful experimental soundtracks and great opening credits.  And mostly, nothing much happens.  From 1971.


9. Veronika Voss, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, (German 1945-1982), part of his BRD Trilogy:  Unbelievably prolific filmmaker who also directed plays and TV series, acted and did other creative stuff.  Died at 37.  I saw my first Fassbinder film at about 20 and wasn’t really ready for it.  Odd and experimental, humane and disturbing.

10. Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962): Cover and lithographs for the book La Cité (text by Alexandre Roubakine):  My long-time interest in spoken word and sound art recordings dovetails with a more recent interest in concrete poetry and graphic design using text.  This is a good example of the latter.

To learn more about the work of Douglas Urbank, visit:

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