On the set of Exodus, 1960. I liked Paul Newman better as a bad boy, and I probably had the character of Eddie from The Hustler in mind while I painted, more than Ari Ben Canaan. So the Star of David in the original photo didn't fit. Just as I began this painting, Paul Newman died, and his photo was everywhere, with that blue of his eyes. When I worked from the black and white it was still seared into my memory. I used Cobalt Blue.
On the set of Giant, 1956
I'd seen his early classics, but was never a huge fan of Steve McQueen. I loved his look in this photo, though. In the original, there's a sign behind him that says "Closed set. No admittance" and even though it didn't make it onto the canvas, I felt like that summed up a lot of what made Steve so cool and unobtainable. When I looked him up, I found out that he'd died of Mesothelioma at 50. While I painted, I had his life story in mind.
"Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working."
Real cool in the pool
Robert Redford was not their first choice for Gatsby, and Mia Farrow was not the first choice for Daisy. The director had bought the rights to the movie so his wife Ali McGraw could play the lead. Then she left him for Steve McQueen. I had just reread Gatsby when I chose this movie shot out of a book on Movies of the Seventies.
From a photo shoot for the cover of Rolling Stone
Inspired by the photo from Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book.
This painting is based on the photo by LIFE photographer Gordon Parks. Bergman is filming Stromboli in Italy, and having an affair with the director, Rossellini. They are both married. For years, she can't get a job in the US, and works in Europe.
Like Ingrid Bergman, she got to star with Humphrey Boghart and Cary Grant. Apparently Bergman suggested her for the lead role in The Nun’s Story after she read the script and realized that she was too old.
She looks as if she's channelling Marilyn. At first I was confused, it could have easily been either one of them. Except she's wearing leather, that's got to be Madonna. And her blonde hair is streaked through with brown, she doesn't hide the fact she's not a natural. Plus, she's in control. No one's messing with her. She even tells the photographer what to do.
Marlon Brando hit him, Jackie Onasis sued him, but Dustin Hoffman always smiled when Ron Gallela took his photograph. The original paparazzi, he always liked taking Dustin Hoffman's photo – this one's from a celebrity tennis match. With this painting, I chose the photographer before the subject, after watching a documentary called "Smash his camera."