First published: Summer 2021
By the time the American artist Bruce Bickford passed away in 2019, he had created more than a million modelling-clay sculptures, thousands of illustrations, 70,000 frames of line animation, and several unfinished graphic novels. However, he was best known for his startlingly original clay animation, and his filmic collaborations with musician Frank Zappa in the 1970s.
Bickford animating a clay garden scene, 2007, photo: Brett Ingram
Bickford brought the same obsessive, precise, labour-intensive artistry to his illustrations and sculptures that he poured into his surrealistic, hallucinatory, action-packed – and often violent – stop-motion animation and two-dimensional illustrative animation.
Big mouth werewolf babies, 1990s, modelling clay, 3 x 4 in. / 7.5 x 10 cm, photo: Alex Maness
The prevalence of vicious imagery in his work stemmed not from innate hostility but from a fearful imagination. Bickford himself was mild-mannered, of very slight build, almost elfin in appearance, with delicate hands, soft features and a quiet voice. He was no stranger to being bullied.
by Brett Ingram
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #108