Top 5 Martin Ansin Prints
By Ben Brooks
In case you missed it last week, we here at Addicted2Print are starting a new series called "The Past and Future" where we look back at a specific artist's work and spotlight our five favorite prints from their career, "The Past," and then provide a list of five prints we hope they tackle somewhere down the line, "The Future."
In light of his upcoming gallery show, and having already reviewed his gallery mate Kevin Tong's work, I decided to take a look back at Martin Ansin's work from over the past few years. In this installment, I'll be listing on my five favorite prints from the past.
We're just focusing on film prints for this list, so don't get mad if I leave out some of his other work! Let's get started!
5) Brazil (2012)
I'm not sure that there is any artist on Mondo's roster whose style is discussed and debated more than Martin Ansin. While I don't care to wade into that debate myself, I think that Brazil, using his newer approach, is proof that no matter what style he uses he is capable of creating some of the most beautiful film prints around.
Terry Gillam is a master of the strange, and Brazil is no exception. That's why it's so refreshing that Ansin's approach to this modern classic is focused more on the love story of Sam and Jill. Now, he's able to do this by still paying service to all the crazy characters that populate the film, but he does so by making them secondary to Sam and Jill. Consequently, it perfectly highlights both aspects of the film. There's also great depth created by the way Sam and Jill are set back from it all, almost like the dream that populates Sam's mind.
As will all Ansins, the illustration here is top notch. The characters are faithfully drawn and the colors are great. Like every print on this list, the artwork and design is so good that it's worth hanging even if you're not a fan of the film.
4) Metropolis (2009)
I struggled with this choice, because I originally wanted to put Scott Pilgrim here instead. But the more I looked at the two designs, the more I felt obliged to include Metropolis. There have been countless amounts of Metropolis prints -- almost too many to recall. Ansin's Metropolis stands apart, though, as something unique. First, it doesn't forsake the human characters in the film. They are beautifully rendered and share space with the iconic Maschinenmensch.
Speaking of the Maschinenmensch, she (it?) is beautifully rendered, but in a way that is a little different than normal, as we only see half her face. Probably my favorite aspect of the print is the way Ansin chose to design the titles. The horizontal lines intersect the entire print and divide up the titles seamlessly. It was also a wonderful design touch to break up the one word title into two halves, each on different lines.
The print also benefits from being an actual advertisement for a showing of the film. Being a very early release, it was still serving the duel function of advertisement and collectible. Too bad they only made 99 copies, because it makes them extremely rare and, therefore, expensive. But it's easy to see why.
3) Taxi Driver (2013)
One of, if not the best, film posters to be released in 2013 was Martin Ansin's Taxi Driver. It's such a dead on depiction of the film that I wouldn't be surprised if Mondo decided to never take a crack at it again with another artist.
The way Travis is alone, walking the streets of the city, with the gasoline in the air, perfectly represents the mood of the film. He is the ultimate outsider in a city that he views as dirty and in need of justice. The print oozes that feeling. Keeping with this theme, Travis' image takes up a tiny portion of the image and his side of the print is distorted from the fumes of the vehicles, much like his perspective of things during the film.
It goes without saying that the artwork here is also beautiful. The city almost looks photo realistic and the limited color tone fits perfectly. As discussed above, the composition is also extremely clever and well thought out.
I hope Ansin tackles more modern classic films, like Taxi Driver, at his upcoming gallery show.
2) The Bride of Frankenstein (Variant) (2010)
As discussed in my Kevin Tong piece, the Bride has been tackled numerous times by not only Mondo artists, but artists generally. Martin Ansin has also done a lot of Universal Monster prints for Mondo. However, his Bride piece is one of the best I've ever seen.
The detail and line work here are astounding. The piece is designed as a portrait/diagram, mapping out the different parts of the Bride. She is cut open and we're able to see all the intricacies of what's inside. By doing so, we're able to understand that the Bride is both a "monster" and human. A living, breathing thing, that is much more complex than her label would otherwise indicate. When you see this piece in person, it simply makes your jaw drop. Fans and non-fans, consistently compliment it for its sheer beauty.
In addition to the Bride, we also get small representations of other characters from the film, like Frankenstein, right below the portrait. It's a nice touch and adds something extra that many other Bride prints lack. It also makes me wish we got to see Ansin tackle Frankenstein in the way he is depicted here.
Finally, the titles to the piece, although small, emphasize "The Bride," by using bigger bolder text for that portion of the lettering. It's a small change, but one that serves the pieces well. We don't need to focus on the Frankenstein aspect of it, who is a separate and more notable character in and of himself, but instead get to hone in on the bride as a separate and singular character.
1) Phantom of the Opera (2009)
We've reached the top! And, if you're an Ansin fan, it's no surprise that it concludes with Phantom of the Opera. I tried to limit myself to one Universal Monsters piece, but there was no way my list could exclude the Bride or Phantom.
Released in 2009, with little fanfare, this ultimately became the holy grail for Ansin collectors (admittedly, an argument could also be made for the Bride being the Ansin Grail). The composition here is incredible, the line work flawless and the colors perfect.
Look at how much detail and life is in the costume of the Phantom, or the the little scenes playing out beneath the main image with perfect depth and shading. They are prime examples of Ansin's talent and why his work is so celebrated. I wish I was lucky enough to have this on my wall.
So there ya have it, folks. Meet me back here soon for the "Future" part of my list!