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December 06, 2003

John Seabrook on Stan Winston

Dear Friedrich --

The New Yorker's issue dated Dec. 1 has an article I can recommend: John Seabrook's profile of Stan Winston, the Hollywood monster-creator who made the Terminator, the dinos of "Jurassic Park," the Alien Queen of "Aliens," and the Aflac insurance company's duck. Seabrook's often good, I find -- like Malcolm Gladwell, he's more open to what's fresh in the culture than most arts critics these days are.

I especially enjoyed this passage:

Winston casts himself alternately as a businessman and as an artist, swinging between pride and humility. He says, of his F/X atelier, "I have the greatest artists in the world working for me. The people here are the equals of the Renaissance artists of five hundred years ago. Michelangelo -- what did he do? He created fantasies -- gargoyles, images of Hell, demons, angels. Just like us. Or look at a great painting like 'The Raft of the Medusa' -- it's horrific! That parallels what we do." And, he goes on, although making monsters does not rank high in the art world's hierarchy, "I guarantee you that long after the painting the snobs say is art -- the painting and sculpture in the galleries -- is forgotten, the face of the Terminator will be remembered." But soon Winston will retreat from those remarks, and assure you that he is just a monster-maker after all.

I couldn't turn Seabrook's good piece up online, drat. So I hope you have a hard copy of the issue still around. But while searching for the piece I ran across something else at the New Yorker's site that's well worth a look -- a Flash slide show illustrating a conversation between two of the magazine's cartoonists, Sam Gross and Matthew Diffee, here. New Yorker cartoons! As far as I'm concerned, they rank right up there with the Terminator.



posted by Michael at December 6, 2003


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