Monday, March 25, 2013

Beauty in Black and White - the Film Noir Art of Guy Budziak

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep

Guy Budziak is a woodcut artist whose striking high-contrast prints evoke dense and haunting images from classic noir, proto-noir and neo-noir films. My recent  Nightmare Alley blog entry featured Guy's rendering of a tantalizing moment from the film:
Tyrone Power, Ian Keith and Joan Blondell in Nightmare Alley

Guy studied painting and earned his BFA at Wayne State University in Detroit, his interest in printmaking confined to a class or two he’d taken along the way. After moving into a downtown Detroit neighborhood, Guy began checking out film noir rentals from a nearby public library with a sizable movie catalogue. His dedication to painting would wane, but his passion for film noir would lead to his move into woodcut printmaking; a friend urged him to create art inspired by his love of noir. His first piece, completed in 1999, was an image from Out of the Past. A few years later Roger Ebert, a great fan of the film, would buy (note: see Guy's comment below) a print. 

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in Out of the Past

In 2008, Guy’s image of Alain Delon in Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 neo-noir Le Samourai appeared on the cover of Ginette Vincendeau’s book, Les Stars et le Star-Systeme en France (The Stars and the Star-System in France), published by L'Harmattan.

In 2012, Giuseppina Magazine, a lavish art, entertainment and fashion quarterly ($48 per issue) published a six page spread spotlighting Guy’s work. In the interview that accompanied his images, Guy was asked what he found most intriguing about film noir. 

…I think above all else it is mood, mood and atmosphere perhaps more than anything. Night and fog, and rain, of course. While I can appreciate those films inhabited by gumshoes garbed in trench coats and fedoras and femme fatales in slinky gowns, these components aren’t mandatory for me. What many don’t realize is that the real stars of noir aren’t necessarily writers, actors or directors, but rather cinematographers, directors of photography, those responsible for the overall LOOK of these films.

Giuseppina Magazine #11

I’ll soon be framing and hanging the print of Nightmare Alley I just purchased and I encourage those interested to click here to go to his website and view an entire gallery of his incredible art.  Guy can be contacted through his site for information on how to purchase prints. 

Robert Ryan in On Dangerous Ground


  1. I like how he includes a short description of the scene for each print, it shows that he *really* loves these movies. I would probably purchase The Shanghai Gesture because it's so stylish, but all of them are very well done.

  2. These are all very impressive.. I love them all!! The Tyrone Power, Ian Keith and Joan Blondell in Nightmare Alley, is my favorite.

  3. Those images are quite striking. Nice of you to promote his work on your blog, Eve.

  4. Now, that's a skill you don't see every day! The marriage of woodcutting and the love of film = a unique piece of art. Thank you for bringing this unique artist to our attention. good stuff!

  5. I always admire the talented. Maybe its just jealousy. Film noir lends itself perfectly to his style, or is it the other way 'round? I wonder how well someone could do if they tried to replicate his technique in PhotoShop?

    My problem with art, no matter how much I like it, is the small condo we live in. I can't even display my own photos of stars I have met. So, I will keep playing the lottery. If I win, I may buy a big former star's house in Hollywood!

    Thanks, Eve, for bringing an interesting subject one more time. You just keep finding them!

  6. Eve, I adore the woodcut of OUT OF THE PAST. Thanks for highlighting Guy's unique artwork.

  7. Very happy to see all these positive comments on Guy's unique - and gorgeous - woodcut artwork.

  8. Guy's work is fascinating. I have been aware of his art,via his website, for a few years,and he was actually an early vistor over at 24frames. It's great that he can combine his love of film noir with his art.

  9. Thanks for the heads up. Will check him out.

  10. My print of Guy's "Nightmare Alley" has arrived and it is just stunning. Even more so in person than I imagined it would be. I can't say enough about the quality of his artwork. And at 50% off, an exceptional deal - a steal.

  11. Guy's work is impressive - he captures the essence of film noir.

  12. Thanks to all those above who've expressed their positive words re. my work. Having learned of Roger Ebert's passing only a few short hours ago I thought I should take it upon myself to submit a clarification. In fact Roger did not purchase the Mitchum print. What happened was this:
    I emailed Jim Emerson, film critic, blogger and editor-in-chief of in 2007 about an article I'd read in the New York Times that related how MoMA's substantial collection of movie stills was being relocated from the museum to a storage facility in rural Pennsylvania. In my email I sent along a link to my site, which Emerson took a glimpse of. He then offered to do a blog post on it, and I said sure, by all means feel free ( Well lo and behold, no sooner does his post see the light of day than I get an email from Ebert inquiring as to the price of the Mitchum print (I learned he was a huge Mitchum fan). So I sent him the info he'd requested and then... nothing. Of course I was disappointed, but not long after I'd learned of his trials and tribulations, how he'd almost died on the operating table and lost half his jaw in the procedure. So after mulling it over I thought what the hell, I'll just send him a print anyway, and since I didn't have his home address I'd send it to the Chicago Sun-Times. And then I waited to hear from him. And waited. No response. Finally, I decided to email him to see if he'd gotten it. His response:

    Dear Mr. Budziak,
    I have not seen the print, but will query the office!
    Thank you so much for your kindness. Cheers, R

    And then a second email:

    The print has been located. I am in rehab hospital right now after broken hip, but will ask secretary to bring to me. This was so nice of you! Downsizing across all media has led to the person being in charge of features department mail being bought out, so I had visions of it going astray. Cheers, R

    And then finally a third email, dated 28 May 2008:

    I have received the print. It is lovely. We're having it framed right now. Thank you so much! Cheers, R

    So there you have it. He didn't purchase it, but essentially he did acquire it.
    Like many, I didn't always agree with his assessment of certain films but still respected the intelligence and appreciation he brought to his vocation. We are all sad at his passing.

    1. Guy, Thank you for clarifying the details on how Roger Ebert acquired his print of "Out of the Past." I didn't agree with him on every film either, but admired him much - his passion for film, his eloquence and more. He is missed.