When illustration and music collide… something powerful happens. We all know who Pink Floyd are, and their concept album The Wall (1979) is regarded now as one of the most inventive projects in the history of Rock. But what about the illustrator behind these iconic images?
Gerald Scarfe (b. 1936) is an English illustrator. As a little child a chronic asthma forces him in bed for a long time, isolating him from the rest of the world; that’s the moment when drawing quickly becomes a way to dispel his fears and apprehensions. These are feelings that will stay with him forever; he will be known for his cartoons and caricatures described as ferociously satiric.
Everything starts in 1972, when the artist and the band fall in love with each other. It was an era of drugs and cynicism and Scarfe channelled these elements into his work.
The Wall narrates the grotesque and tragic life of Pink, who erected a wall to distance himself from the cruel world. It presents topics such as isolation, the arise of darkness in humanity and a harsh critique to society (the school, the army, the progress). Finding himself in these subjects, Scarfe brings the characters to life through his twisted, elegant but almost disturbing illustrations and animations. He will also contribute to the incredibly theatrical live tour (featuring walls of cardboard bricks and his characters as massive puppets) and the live-action movie adaptation (1982).
“I feel it’s the duty of an artist to re-interpret the world […], bringing out the essential characteristics. I find a particular delight in taking the caricature as far as I can.”
Art and music will work together so well that will later become iconic in Pop culture.
Sitography & other interesting links:
Gerald Scarfe interview for The Stage, 2017
Video interview to Gerald Scarfe, 2011, Hushhushvideo
The Illustration Chronicles
The Wall movie trailer
Pink Floyd, What Shall We Do We Now? – with Scarfe animations.