Dave McKean demolishes Dante Gabriel Rossetti in fair fight.
What could inspire me to take down an 1880s Pre-Raphaelite pastel from the wall of my boudoir? Yes, the inheritance of a castle in Tuscany might be reason to pack everything up and head to the docks; but I mean, assuming that I am continuing to sleep in said room and want to wake up to something beautiful and inspirational…?
I met Dave McKean in passing at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con. We spoke briefly about Egon Schiele and- a mutual favorite- the visionary Jean Cocteau.
Our second contact was this last summer, again at the San Diego Comic Con. I was happy to see Dave walking up toward our booth and reintroduced myself. In the course of the afternoon, talks went from the Vienna Secession to German Expressionism, and rested on…
The visuals of the silent film period are something that I am very passionate about, and with our other mutual interests it made sense that this would be an area of interest to Dave. What I could never have imagined was that silent films are what inspired him to become an artist in the first place, and that he had just recently begun honoring that inspiration with a series of new works titled “Nitrate”.
I acquired three of the works before you could walk from one end of the convention center to the other (which takes a pretty long time, actually, but you know what I mean) and after storing them for a few months had them delivered to Chicago just this past weekend. As good as I knew they would be, having seen Dave McKean artworks in person before, these FAR and away exceeded my expectations, and I will say without hesitation that they are his finest work. Textural and sculptural, symbolist and expressionist, haunting and romantic, I have lost sleep admiring them late, late at night. And for the last two days? I can’t wake up soon enough to see them.
We (Century Guild) are hosting an exhibition of Dave McKean’s Nitrate paintings July 17th and 18th at the Portage Theater in Chicago. Six of these masterpieces will be on display, along with a collection of rare silent cinema posters for historically important titles such as the seminal horror serial Homunkulus, the decadent 1919 story Opium, the early Fritz Lang- scripted film Totentanz (The Dance of Death)- with many of these posters, the examples on display are believed to be the only copies to have survived the wars and turbulence of the last century, especially in Germany in the time during and following the second World War.
I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. We have some special surprises planned, are screening some of the films that inspired the films, and will show Dave’s magical film collaboration with Neil Gaiman, the fantastic MirrorMask…
We’re still working out the schedule; there will be a cocktail party for the CBLDF on Friday as a prelude to the opening, and we know the main show times, but we want to add some other silent films that inspired the Dave McKean paintings on the big screen during the weekend. Check http://www.centuryguild.net for updates.
Perhaps most importantly, for information on acquiring original and limited edition prints from the show, contact the gallery at “inquiries at centuryguild.net”
(In the meantime, my dog claims she is having strange dreams from “The Tired Death” silently watching her as she sleeps…)