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As the sun rises on London at the top of Mary Poppins Returns, the fog parts to reveal the outlines of two iconic buildings: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, cloaked in muted purples, greys and oranges. Both discerning art-history majors and casual onetime visitors to The Met might note the direct homage to Monet's famous series "Houses of Parliament." But in other moments in Rob Marshall's film, the artistic hat-tips aren't so clear, including scenes of London in the rain that reference French photographer Brassaï, and an opening-credits homage to Peter Ellenshaw.
Production designers draw from an array of influences when they design the worlds of their respective films, sometimes referencing precedents directly or indirectly. Black Panther's production designer, Hannah Beachler, drew from mosaics of images on a wall in her office "because you never know how that picture or its color is going to influence you," she says. First Man production designer Nathan Crowley credits walking around his hometown, New York, for his ideas: "I think it's about being around art, it's about just looking, it's about wandering through New York," he says. "I don't look at a painting and say, 'Well, that's our film,' it's a combination of experiences." (Nevertheless, specific places have helped Crowley figure out certain sets: The Bat Bunker in The Dark Knight, for instance, was highly influenced by New York's Dia:Beacon galleries, he says.)
However they draw from the visual arts, production designers are nearly always influenced by work that came before. And so, in honor of the inaugural L.A. art fair Frieze LA, The Hollywood Reporter asked the production designers behind this year's Oscar-nominated films to share the artists and works that inspired them on their 2018 films. Read their answers below.
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