From Hercules To Pink Floyd: See The Works Of Gerald Scarfe

Gerald Scarfe, House of Illustration ★★★☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 59 months ago

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From Hercules To Pink Floyd: See The Works Of Gerald Scarfe Gerald Scarfe, House of Illustration 3
Scarfe designed this piece for Orpheus in the Underworld by the English National Opera. Copyright Gerald Scarfe.

Cerberus, the three headed hound of the underworld, snarls at us with salivating, razor sharp teeth, and stares right through us with demonic red eyes. He has been brought to life by illustrator Gerald Scarfe in one his drawings used for the Disney film Hercules.

If you're thinking the name sounds familiar, it's because he's well known for his political and satirical cartoons. But this exhibition at House of Illustration shows his lesser-known side as a production designer for film, stage and music videos.

It's in the underworld where Scarfe can let his imagination loose. Copyright Gerald Scarfe

Scarfe designed the sets for a production of The Magic Flute — and the model of a pyramid opening up hints at its impressiveness — but it's hard to capture the spirit of a large scale theatre production with masks and drawings. A similar problem exists for The Nutcracker — the costumes on show here look great, but the feel of the ballet isn't captured in the gallery setting.

Copyright Gerald Scarfe.

Where Scarfe excels is in his drawings for the animated film Hercules — the underworld really lets his imagination shine. The fiery design for Hades and the multi-coloured, multi-headed Hydra manage to be both threatening and have that lighter Disney charm in these characters — it's a delicate balancing act that the artist manages to pull off.

From the Nutcracker ballet. Copyright Gerald Scarfe

The trippy Pink Floyd animation for The Wall is another success, with hammers marching in military fashion a fitting addition to the Pink Floyd album, ending the exhibition on a high after an uncertain start.

Gerald Scarfe: Stage and Screen is on at House of Illustration until 21 January 2018. Tickets are £7.50 and include admission to all three exhibitions.

Last Updated 30 September 2017