AMSEL: The name everyone knows

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Even though Richard Amsel passed away 24 years ago, his artwork is still some of the most recognizable in the world. Fan from every corner of the earth salivate at the sight of some of his more famous work, while others have stood the test of time on their own merit of just being some of the most well-crafted pieces of art out there. One wouldn't expect such attention to be put into a movie poster, but that is exactly what Amsel did. Now, his name is as world-renowned as some of the movies that inspired him.

Amsel's exhibit at the Rosewald-Wolf Gallery in the Anderson building at the University of the Arts, showcases some of his best and least known works: from the Coal Miner's Daughter, to MadMax, to a whole room devoted to Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some pieces, like his first poster for Hello Dolly which he made while he was still a student at the University of the Arts, then the Philadelphia College of Art, only contain the finished print. The room devoted to Raiders however covers many of his drafts and revisions, showcasing the long and arduous process that he went through to make the perfect and now iconic poster.

Unfortunately, if you expect to see anything from the 1974 film, Chinatown, don't hold your breath. It's clear who the audience is at this exhibit, and it's not the true appreciators of art. The poster for Chinatown is reminiscent of a Mucha painting, with a hint of old French advertising artwork, and is by far one of his timeless pieces. Yet, it seemed that the curators were looking to bring in the masses, and not necessarily showcase what most consider a work that speaks for itself.

Richard Amsel's career spanned almost two decades, from what some consider the heyday of cinema in the 70s, until it's demise in the 1980s; his life also seems to mirror this trend. While he was still a senior at the Philadelphia College of Art, he won a poster contest run by 20th Century Fox, which propelled him into art stardom. He seemed to be on top for a good ten years until he contracted HIV in the 80s. This led to his untimely death at the age of 38, in 1985.

Like many great artists, Richard Amsel died before his time, but also left a legacy that those in his medium never achieved. His name is forever engrained in the collective minds of the public, maybe without them even knowing it.

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