Friday, January 30, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Bill Peet & Patrick Caulfield, born 29 January

Two artists with very different styles were born on 29 January: In 1915, American Bill Peet, famous for his work and tempestuous times with Walt Disney, also for his many illustrated children's story books. Born some 21 years later, in the UK, Patrick Caulfield, whose rather different version of 1960s pop-art won him fame.


Bill Peet (January 29, 1915, Grandview Indiana – May 11, 2002), children's book illustrator, and story writer for Disney Studios, 1937-1964. His artistic talent showed up early; he filled the margins of his school books with sketches, later shone as an art student on scholarship at the Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis. Studies completed, he left the midwest for Hollywood, to seek better job opportunities. He was hired as an “in-betweener” to fill in the interstitial cells between the main scenes, for Walt Disney studio’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, later, with his talent recognised, he climbed the Disney hierachy and worked on films such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo , Song of the South, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and others. He eventually left the Disney Studios after 27 years, following a particularly bitter argument with Walt Disney (one of many throughout his time there) over the story production of The Jungle Book (See this at Blabbing on Arts and Culture blog). He then focused on writing and illustrating books for children, and now has a long list of much-loved children's books to his credit.

An imaginative and stylish storyteller, he would frequently embed messages within his tales. There's an especially good story which I suspect we might all benefit from reading: The Wump World.

Bill Peet married his schooldays sweetheart, Margaret. There's a sweet website created by the Peets' son HERE.

If a passing reader has around 12 minutes to spare, there's a YouTube reading of The Wump World with all his illustrations.

 From his Dumbo story board

More of Bill Peet's Dumbo sketches at Deja View blog HERE.

 From the 1001 Dalmations story board

 From his book The Whingdingdilly

Over the Atlantic and on a different wavelength altogether was Patrick Caulfied, born in Acton, London on 29 January 1936. He died in 2005. A student at the Royal College of Art, 1960-63 along with David Hockney, he developed a unique style characterised by the use of line and depiction of banal, everyday objects saturated in colour and made strangely important. Few human or animal figures grace his artwork, its focus is interiors: office, restaurant, city, decor - all stylised with clean, simple, minimalist flavour. Reviewers of his artwork have pointed out that, though his paintings appeared simple, this was deceptive and rarely the desired effect. By his own admission there were periods when he sought simplicity and others when he sought complexity. The paintings' unity lay in the power of Caulfield's imagination and wry detachment. Resistance to classification meant that Caulfield's work was not as widely known as that of some of his contemporaries.

He is said to have been
"a keen drinker, arriving at his "morning pub" at opening time for Old Speckled Hen, before moving on to double Irish whiskeys. After lunch and work, he went to the evening pub, before returning home to watch television. Glasses of red wine were a frequent motif in his paintings."

"Caulfield was apt to grin sheepishly when making wolfish remarks, especially when declaring his dislike of facile or excessively worthy sorts of painting. He had no time for raw green countryside. Plein air as an excuse for landscape genres enraged him. Interiors for him: places with light switches and engaging artificiality and plentiful refreshments."

Patrick Caulfield married Pauline Jacobs, they had met at Chelsea Art School in 1968; they had three sons. After the marriage was dissolved, in 1999 he married artist Janet Nathan.
(See obituaries at The Telegraph and The Guardian).

After Lunch (1975)
From Tate website HERE
Caulfield's paintings explore alternative ways of picturing the world. After Lunch was one of his earliest works to combine different styles of representation. In this case, what appears to be a photomural of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant is depicted with high-focus realism, contrasting with the cartoon-like black-outlined imagery and fields of saturated colour of its surroundings. Caulfield deliberately makes the relationship between these varying representational methods uneasy and ambiguous, so that the picture appears more real than the everyday world around it.

 Lamp and Pines (1975)

 Tandoori Restaurant

 Second Glass of Whisky (1992)

Entrance (1975)
See Platform 505 HERE
Pictures such as “Entrance” employ a rigorous use of black, with complex arrangements of grids, outlines and trellises. The atmosphere is playful and upbeat yet equivocal. These strange gardens and interiors are recognisable but unfamiliar, a parody of the real thing.
BBC website has a slideshow of some of Caulfield's paintings, HERE.


Bill Peet, born January 29, 1915, Grandview, Indiana. Chart set for 12 noon as no time of birth available.

Patrick Caulfield, born January 29 1936, Acton, London, UK. Chart set for 12 noon as no time of birth available.

The artwork of Bill Peet and Patrick Caultfield was so different in "feel"; will their natal charts reflect this?

I see Peet as being a warmer, softer, more engaged in humanity kind of guy - from his choice of art style and genre. He had the heavier Aquarius input: Sun conjunct modern ruler Uranus, and Mercury conjunct Jupiter all in sign of the Water Bearer. Without a time of birth we can't know where Aquarius was placed house-wise though.

I suspect the warmer, softer feel of Peet's artwork comes via Venus (planet of the arts) in philosophical Sagittarius and a likely Cancer Moon, which could well have been conjunct Neptune(creativity and imagination). Mr Peet's talent for writing stories (for children) to match his artwork is reflected by Mercury (the writer's planet) in helpful sextile to artistic Venus; also significant: Saturn in Mercury-ruled Gemini in harmonious trine to Mercury in Aquarius.

Patrick Caulfield's paintings, though attractive and colourful, have a distinctly distant "feel" to them - detached from the human world, they concentrate on line, precision, design and colour rather than on flesh and blood. Whimsicality is absent, its place taken by what art reviewers see as wry detachment and some embedded humour.

Mr Caulfield was of a different generation from Mr Peet's, born a world away too. He was strongly influenced by art trends of the 1960s. His natal chart spreads rather thinner than Peet's, bringing in, Aquarius Sun and Mercury, with personal planets lying between Aries Moon (whatever his time of birth) to Jupiter in Sagittarius.

Arts planet Venus, in his case, was in Capricorn; this reflects the structural feel, reliant on line, of much of his artwork. Very significantly, too, a close trine between Venus (art) and Uranus (the avant garde) in Venus-ruled Taurus links to his pull towards modernity and an avant garde art style.

Hard-edged Saturn and Mars in Pisces possibly overwhelmed the usual gentle softness of Pisces - as far as his art style was concerned anyway. Jupiter in Sagittarius could be seen as source of the wry humour said to be involved in some of his paintings.

It's a pity no times of birth are known for the two artists - I'd be very surprised if their rising signs didn't contrast quite starkly.


mike said...

I suppose I can appreciate Caulfield's art more now than I did back when it was fresh. The 1950s onward popularized a minimalist style of illustration typically seen in my school texts, magazines, cartoons, and posters of that era. I'm not overly fond of the flat, lack of details, and monotones. His style was considered very progressive and modernistic. To enhance your comment about his Mar-Saturn in Pisces, Pisces co-rulers Jupiter and Neptune square each other and form a loose T-square with the Mars-Saturn conjunction. I think this reflects the overt rigidity and linearity of his work, contrasted with islands of creative realism splashed into his work that disarms.

Peet's falling-out with Disney is an interesting story told second-hand...hard to know for sure of the real details. I suspect Peet may have unconsciously allowed this to happen. He has a peculiar configuration with Venus op Saturn, Mars op Neptune, Mercury sextile Venus and the duo in a loose yod to Neptune, which draws all of these planets into one cohesion (his Moon is part of this, too, either by aspect or simply the ruler of his Neptune). His nature was perhaps moody, touchy, and easily offended, even when no offense was intended.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I prefer Caulfield's style to that of most other pop-artists of his era. I'd not be averse to having one or two prints of his work on our walls, whereas I'd not give most pop-art house room.

I agree that Bill Peet could have been a tad too thin-skinned when dealing with Walt Disney, but he managed to get by for 27 years, so things can't have been too bad in that respect. The pair probably held a certain respect for one another, and each was contributing to the other's success.

Disney's chart,_Walt

reveals a cluster of Capricorn planets - no wonder he was first and foremost a businessman! Peet was much less business-minded, his own Aquarius cluster had other priorities.

Whereas Aquarius and Capricorn can slide along quite easily in most cases, in the case of Peet and Disney maybe there was just too much of one sign competing with too much of t' times.

mike (again) said...

Thanks for Disney's chart...I was going to look, but hadn't made it there yet. The most most striking synastry I see is Disney's Mars right on Peet's Venus, which draws Disney's Mars into Peet's planetary fray I mentioned. Peet viewed Disney as a dictator and menace, according to his autobiography and the NY Times obit:
"...almost as well known for his tempestuous, 27-year relationship with Walt Disney as for the cartoon characters he created...", so it seems they had an acrid, long-term relationship.

Not knowing Peet's time of birth, it conjecture, but Peet's Moon may have opposed Disney's Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, too, contributing to his feeling that Disney was oppresive. This synastry would be a fitting addendum to Peet's scathing commentary of Disney.

It states in the obit that Peet's actual surname was Peed...a regretful last name...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, it seems the two had regular "run-ins" during the 27 years of Peet's employment.

From what I've read in the past about Disney, and his political leanings, he wasn't my kind of guy at all, though his business acumen was incredible, there's no doubt on that. As an employer I suspect he was not too pleasant a guy to deal with - I'd probably have felt much the same as Bill Peet!

Cancer Moon - though we don't know the degree - would account for a lot.

I did notice the Peed/Peet, but trying to be respectful didn't mention it.

Sonny G said...


what does it mean if an area on the astro wheel has nothing in it? like example no. 2 .. does that have any special significance..

Sonny G said...

ps-- I prefer Peet's art..

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ You mean the large empty 6th house in Caulfield's chart? It's just a house with no planets, looks different because it's a bigger expanse.

The house sizes/extents are calculated by the House system and chart type being used - this chart wheel is called a European Wheel (unequal houses) by my software, and I'm using Placidus House System. If I swapped the chart to show to Equal House system the houses would all be same size.

I use this wheel all the time because I can read it best.

Really, when we have no time of birth it'd be better for me to use a chart showing no house cusps at all - but for some reason that throws me off and I find I can't read that type of chart as easily. :-)