Movie poster artist Robert Tanenbaum has created hundreds of designs for films and advertising. A naturally talented artist, Tanenbaum didn’t study art while he was growing up. When he was attending Washington University in St. Louis, he won first place in the school’s portrait contest. That kicked off his career as he perfected portraiture and an ability to work with a variety of materials, including watercolors, oils, and acrylics.
After serving in the army, Tanenbaum worked as an illustrator for four years. He and his family left their hometown in 1964 and headed to Los Angeles to pursue a career of making paintings for movies. To promote his art, Tanenbaum put together a selection of slides of his work to send to movie studio art directors. This led to getting work in the industry from those studios and as word of his talent spread, he received jobs from studios he hadn’t sought yet.
For his work in posters, he learned about the movies, seeking inspiration to create the art for each one. His ability to adapt to genre kept him from being pigeonholed to a certain type of movie, opening his work up to comedy, horror, and action.
Perhaps Tanenbaum’s most famous poster was for the modern holiday classic, A Christmas Story. Taking cues from the movie’s tone and memorable scenes, he painted important moments and props from the film that symbolize its chaos and absurdity. Another great example of how he used the movie for inspiration was on the poster for Cujo. It teases the prospect of danger in one’s own yard and the isolation that the protagonists will endure while under attack.
For his Battlestar Galactica poster, Tanenbaum brought energy to the art with action scenes of the humans and Cylons trading firepower with ships in battle overhead. His talent for portraiture can be seen on the poster for The Color of Money which sees finely detailed portraits of Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
His work has also been featured on posters for Inside Out, Slapstick of Another Kind, Silent Night Evil Night, Greatest, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and High Anxiety, among many others. Outside of posters, Tanenbaum became highly in-demand, commissioned to paint over 200 portraits of actors, sports figures, and heads of corporations, as well as painting collections for Franklin Mint.
Recently, Tanenbaum was commissioned to create the movie poster for the upcoming Christmas movie, Feast of the Seven Fishes. The art for this new poster teases the personalities of the ensemble cast with detailed portraits that promises home for the holidays comedy.