ADG Perspective

January-February 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 137 of 139

136 P E R S P E C T I V E | J A N UA RY / F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 7 reshoots The photograph above from the JC Backings company archives was first published in 1990 in Donald E. Skinner's HISTORY OF JC BACKINGS. It shows Scenic Artists Clark Provins, John Harold Coakley and an unidentified colleague working on the paint frame at MGM Studios in Culver City, c. 1950. Each of the major film studios, to a greater or lesser extent, had an in-house Scenic Art Department, but the finest by far was at MGM under the direction of a meticulous perfectionist, George Gibson. Karen Maness and Richard Isackes write: "During this time, [George Gibson] created at MGM what was arguably the finest scene-painting studio in America. He convinced the studio heads to construct a new scenic building where all of the backings could be painted centrally on movable paint frames rather than on the fixed scaffolding of the various soundstages...He constructed the department from the ground up and looked for young art majors coming out of universities and art schools, and encouraged these artists to continue their study of painting outside of the scenic studio...When he returned to MGM [after the Second World War], he brought both a military regimentation to the painting process, as well as many of the men with whom he had served in the Marines. Gibson created a notebook in which he recorded every detail of the backing's creation: who was painting on the drop at any given time, the exact dimensions and the subject matter of the backing. All of these would be tied to a production number that was in turn tied to MGM's accounting office...In the end, the shop, the system and the men were all extensions of Gibson's drive for perfection." Photograph courtesy of the Coakley Family

Articles in this issue

view archives of ADG Perspective - January-February 2017