We are thrilled to announce that world renowned artist Bill Mack, has been appointed as the official portrait painter of American Icon Awards.
This year, he has created a portrait of Al Pacino using the metal from the original iconic HOLLYWOOD sign. Bill Mack is the world’s pre-eminent relief sculptor.
He has no mentors. There is nowhere to go to learn his art. He works in such a rare art form that coming up with a name to describe it has been only slightly less arduous than creating the art itself. “Calling his artwork bas-relief,” Joseph Clapsaddle, Executive Producer of American Icon Awards, “is incorrect since bas-relief technically refers to low relief sculpture. His artworks often have more physical depth than high relief and incorporate various elements in full-round rising toward the viewer. Technically, sculptures combining various levels of relief and full-round parts are called Alto Relief. However, until he offered his current collection of sculptures, this art form had not appeared to any extent in galleries.”
The relief format originated in ancient temple friezes and marble sepulchers. Combining low and high relief, incised lines, and elements in the full-round in sculpture works that are light enough to be hung on a wall, Mack directly involves the viewer in a 3-dimensional experience, both textural and tactile, that is often startling real. To excel in this exacting form, in which foreshortening poses daunting technical challenges, Mack is a master craftsman. Each relief derives from painstaking studies of the foreshortened figure – a classic skill that is rare in today’s contemporary scene.
He also is a highly skilled two-dimensional artist in the Romantic Realism style, creating world-class drawings and paintings of the human form as studies for each of the reliefs he creates. His drawings and paintings, in the photo realistic genre, are extremely rare and are immediately recognizable as Mack’s. They are rendered with a dimensional or “round” quality, since, while he is working in two-dimensions, he is always thinking of the images in three-dimensions.
“Mack’s art elicits an immediate emotional response,” notes one critic. “A moment in time is stopped, a familiar face revealed, the grace of a body in motion captured. The viewer becomes more than an observer; he becomes a participant in the drama unfolding before his eyes.”
Through his extensive artistic and business contacts around the world, Mack has also become an avid collector of art, historical documents, and Hollywood memorabilia. His collection of paintings and drawings includes original works by such a diverse group of artists as Miro, Chagall, Picasso, Paul Jenkins, Jim Dine, and friends Peter Max and the late LeRoy Neiman. His collection of letters and documents includes presidential letters written by Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, John Kennedy, and others. To decorate his tiered video theater, he collects and displays a treasure of costumes such as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Clark Gable’s coat from Gone With The Wind, and Lon Chaney’s suit from Phantom of the Opera, a black jumpsuit worn by Elvis Presley, the furniture Marilyn Monroe used in her last photo shoot, plus many others.
In 2006, his sale of the Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz made news headlines as the most expensive costume ever sold at auction at the time. Soon after the sale, Mack was contacted by a person who offered to sell him the metal panels that together formed the letters of the Original Hollywood Sign. The phone call came as a startling surprise since Mack also believed the Original Hollywood Sign had been destroyed decades earlier.
Once he was convinced of the Sign’s existence, Mack requested a sample of the metal. After inspecting the sample, Mack quickly accepted the opportunity realizing that unless the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty were put up for sale, this was the last chance to own one of the world’s most famous structures. After acquiring the Sign, he declared, “The Hollywood Sign is among the most famous structures in the world, and I will give the world a whole new way to look at it.”
His appreciation of both art and entertainment artifacts inspired Mack to acquire the sign. Mack uses the facade of the original Hollywood Sign as canvas to create portraits of illustrious movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He immediately sensed there was a magical connection between the iconic image he painted and the historic metal. According to Mack the 80-year-old material, “gives each painting a heartbeat, a sense of the time and place where Hollywood Legends first stood atop Mount Lee next to the very sign on which their images have been painted.”
Enthusiastic and stylish, the mustachioed Mack has a distinctive flair about him. There is a fresh red rose bud on his lapel every day. Though he will not reveal the personal reason why he began the practice some years ago, the red rose has become a symbolic trademark, presenting them at gallery openings worldwide.
Without a doubt, Bill Mack’s creations are strikingly unique in the world of art. In or out of his studio, Mack is an unusual man and artist, influencing today’s world of contemporary art. We are fortunate to welcome Bill as one of our Founders.