Today: April 16, 2024

Brain Sanders: From 2001 To Mad Men

The Lever Gallery is delighted to present their first exhibition dedicated to the work of pioneering British illustrator Brian Sanders.

A veteran of the golden age of magazine illustration and a co-founder of the Association of Illustrators, Sanders’ solo exhibition will include his trailblazing portraits for magazines such as The Sunday Times and Nova Magazine during the 1960s, his unprecedented illustration work on 2001: A Space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick up to his 2011 work commissioned by Matthew Weiner for series six of AMC’s Mad Men. Chronicling Sanders’ long and successful career the exhibition will also include previously unseen and unpublished artwork.

Brian Sanders rose to prominence in 1960s London, when magazine illustration was booming. The work was experimental and reflected the excitement of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, mirroring the fashion and music of this defining era. The medium was new, the compositions were off-kilter and the colours were brighter, sharper and more striking. American illustrators had a huge influence on the style and work of their English counterparts, with the US artists using acrylic paint to create what was referred to as the ‘bubble and streak’ effect, initially developed by US masters such as Bernie Fuchs.

Notable work from this period that will be exhibited in the Lever Gallery exhibition includes Ho Chi Min, commissioned for the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine, 1960s tennis star Roger Taylor also for The Sunday Times, plus Sanders’ illustration of Le Mans and his portrait of Sean Connery’s Bond set against Sanders’ own Aston Martin DB3.

In 1965, Sanders was commissioned by Stanley Kubrick to spend months on set with unfettered access during the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey to illustrate the film sets and scenes of Kubrick and his crew in production. Sanders would draw on the set two days per week and work on larger paintings in his studio. This was a rare occurrence, as Kubrick often worked with a closed set, and was the only person allowed to take photos on set. Much of this work by Sanders remained unpublished for decades. In the 1970s Sanders completed a series of portraits for influential Nova Magazine featuring famous figures and their foibles includes Warren Beatty, Noel Coward, Richard Nixon and Tony Benn.

When Mad Men series creator Matthew Weiner, inspired by the painterly illustrations of the 1970s TWA flight menus, wanted a nostalgic image to promote the sixth season of the acclaimed series, he turned to Brian Sanders to produce an illustration for the series six poster and DVD packaging. This captivating illustration was emblazoned across buses and billboards and propelled Sanders’ name back into the limelight in 2011.

The London exhibition will focus on four areas of Brian Sanders’ archive; Bubble and Streak: 1960s Illustration and Bubble and Streak: Revisited (Mad Men), 2001: A Space Odyssey and NOVA Portraits. Brian Sanders: Selected Illustrations runs from 12 May until 31 July 2017. Sanders will celebrate his 80th birthday on 6 June.

The Lever Gallery exhibition dedicated to Sanders’ coincides with Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction at the Barbican Centre from 2nd June-1st September which will include an outdoor screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

BRIAN SANDERS: SELECTED ILLUSTRATIONS From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Mad Men runs from 12th May-31st July 2017 at the Lever Gallery, 153 -157 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7HD

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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