The Amazing Art of Laurent Durieux

Awe-inspiring imagery from movies, classic books, travel, and retro science-fiction.

It’s kind of strange the ways in which I’ve been turned onto different artists over the years. As I described in a recent newsletter, I was introduced to novelist Tim Green (whose work later inspired me to become a novelist) through a comedian who used to make fun of him every week on television. You may have also noticed a running theme in my weekly “Featured Vinyl” section, with stories of how I became aware of certain performers, not through conventional means (like the radio), but by being in a particular place at a particular time.

Perhaps it’s not that odd after all. Maybe a lot of us are exposed to art through the moods we’re in, the places we’re at (both physically and mentally), and coincidental timing. Regardless, once that hook punches through, it’s easy to get reeled in.

So was the case with me and a Belgian illustrator and graphic artist named Laurent Durieux. I knew nothing of him or his work until I visited the Drudge Report (a news aggregation website) one morning, years ago, and saw a picture of one of his prints displayed at the top of the homepage. I don’t recall which piece it was, nor the accompanying headline or story. I’m not even sure why it would have been featured so prominently, unless the website’s owner, Matt Drudge, happened to be a fan.

What I do remember is that something about the piece’s sleekness, character, detail, and limited use of colors absolutely blew me away. I soon found Durieux’s website, and spent the next 30 minutes or so staring in awe at his magnificent work.

Since I’m always looking out for Daly Grind readers, and wanting to give you a heads-up on cool and interesting things (at least in my view), I figured I’d share some of his work this week.

Durieux specializes in high-quality poster-style prints expressing his takes on movies and classic books, as well as themes of travel and retro science-fiction. He’s won numerous awards, including for his 2013 screenprint of perhaps my all-time favorite movie, “Jaws.” It even caught the eye of the film’s director, Steven Spielberg.

Notice the black shark fin on the umbrella? How about Chief Brody's 1975 Chevy Blazer (and home) on the hill? Over on the right is Pipit the dog, the film’s second (and sometimes forgotten about) shark-attack victim. Durieux’s work is filled with subtleties.

Check out his impression of 1999’s “The Iron Giant,” that he created for Alamo Drafthouse. The shapes and use of color in this one are breathtaking.

The two limited-print pieces above are among Durieux’s most sought after and expensive… which is why I don’t own either, and likely never will. However, if any Daly Grind readers are loaded and feel inclined to pick one up for me as a Christmas present, I would be more than happy to accept it.

Most (if not all) of Durieux’s poster-size screenprints have a limited print number, so a lot of his work sells out (in some cases fairly quickly). But since first becoming aware of Durieux, I’ve followed him on social media, and paid close attention to the release dates of his latest work. That, along with the help of eBay to find some of his older stuff, has led to a number of his pieces hanging in frames on the walls of my home. Below are some favorites among them.

I love so many things about this take on Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It’s overflowing with shout-outs to various scenes throughout the film. Vincent and Jules are in their “volleyball” attire following the gun accident in Jules’s car on the right (hinted at with a trail of blood underneath it). Farther right, you see Zed’s motorcycle, and Marsellus Wallace about to be run over by Butch Coolidge. To the left are “Pumpkin” and “Honey Bunny” about to hold up the diner. Various business signs reference memorable dialogue from the film, including “milk shakes,” “foot massages,” and “Fox Force Five.” It’s just a really fun piece.

This piece is a little smaller in size than most of Durieux’s, commissioned by the Adirondack Tourism Department. I love the wood-paneled car towing the old-school camper across the bridge. This one hangs in my office, just above my computer.

“Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of partial to orange tones, and I think they work particularly well in this piece, especially where Taylor and his crew, from 1968’s Planet of the Apes, are crossing the river.

Well, of course I had to get the Die Hard screenprint. I’m a red-blooded American male who grew up in the 1980s, after all. I love the snow-globe homage to the film’s Christmas setting.

Durieux’s original “Jaws” screenprint may be beyond my reach, but I was ready and feverishly hitting the “refresh” button on my web-browser when his “Jaws 2” piece first went on sale. While the 1978 movie had a tough act to follow, coming off the heels of the first, iconic film, it was actually a darned good sequel. And this screenprint is much more than darned good. It’s fantastic! I love the recreation of the early water-skiing scene, and the huge shark fin formed from flying water. Just brilliant.

I saved this one for last, because it’s probably the most unique Durieux piece I have, not just because of its dimensions (which required a custom frame), but also its imagery. Entitled “Perseus’ Visitors,” I’m sure I should know what it means or references, but frankly… I don’t. And maybe the mystery is part of its appeal to me. It’s clearly a 1950’s scene (going by the cars and attire) along a barren road. But while the man on the right is entering a gas station, the woman on the left is leaving her car and casually entering… a UFO (with a suitcase in hand, as if she’s ready for the second part of a long trip).

Whatever it all means, it’s a fascinating piece.

If you like what you’ve seen, you should definitely check out Laurent Durieux’s website for much more. What I’ve posted above is simply the tip of the iceberg.


Random Thought

I guess this won’t technically be a “random” thought, since a specific question triggered it, but I’m going with it anyway.

I saw the below tweet by a film critic the other day, and it got me thinking.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the pandemic has me missing the aforementioned “cinematic experience.” And if I had to pick out one such experience that I’ll never forget, I guess it makes sense to go with one from when I was 5 or 6 years old that I still remember. It might have actually been from my first time in a movie theater, but I’m not sure about that.

My father took me and my brother to see “The Glacier Fox,” a G-rated documentary about a family of foxes. Just between you and me, it was pretty boring. But before it started, the theater played a classic Three Stooges featurette.

My father obviously knew who the stooges were, laughing out loud the second the comedic trio’s faces appeared on screen. My brother and I, on the other hand, didn’t. Thus, we had no idea what we were in store for.

As my dad likes to tell the story, the two of us sat there, wide-eyed, witnessing an absolutely outrageous spectacle that we simply couldn’t wrap our minds around: grown men (not cartoon characters) hitting each other over the head with mallets, sticking each other’s skulls in vices, pulling each other’s hair, and poking each other’s eyes.

Needless to say, I became a huge fan. In fact, the below poster was hanging in my childhood bedroom until I moved out.

Do you have a great cinematic experience you’ll never forget? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Featured Vinyl

Few celebrity deaths hit me as hard as Dolores O'Riordan’s in 2018. She was the lead singer of the Irish alternative-rock band, The Cranberries. She unfortunately passed on at the young age of 46 (my age at the time).

The Cranberries, powered by O’Riordan’s powerful and distinctive vocals, had a number of big hits in the 90s, including "Linger", "Dreams", "Ode to My Family", and my (and probably a lot of people’s) personal favorite, "Zombie."

“In the End” was their eighth and final album. The band was working on it at the time of O'Riordan’s death, and the remaining members completed it using the vocals she had previously recorded.

It’s hard to miss the irony of the title. Guitarist Noel Hogan explained it shortly before the album was released:

"We will do this album and then that will be it. No one wants to do this without Dolores... So there's a song called 'In the End', it's the last song on the album, and it just kind of summed up the whole album and the band. Because it's definitely the end of it for us. So we've called it that."

It really is a beautiful album and a great tribute to the band. It was even nominated for “Best Rock Album” at this year’s Grammy Awards. While a number of songs stand out, “In the End” (and the farewell feeling it evokes) is the one that really remains with you.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!