Theme/Style – Modernism, figurative work, portraits, animals, still life, landscapes, genre scenes, animation art
Media – Oils, tempera, watercolors, ceramic sculpture, murals, lithography, illustration
Artistic Focus – Paul Julian had a long career, as a skilled painter of many subjects, a WPA muralist, and also a background animator and title designer for several Hollywood studios. His painting style varied over time, from bold Modernist contours and deep colors, to more abstract and fanciful subjects using a bright and lively color palette.
Career Highlights –
- Paul Julian was born in Illinois in 1914, the son of artist Esther Julian (1893-1979), who was his first painting teacher. By the 1930s Julian was living in Santa Barbara, California. He studied art at the Chouinard Art Institute and privately with Millard Sheets and others.
- Julian exhibited throughout California in the 1930s and 1940s, winning first prize at the California State Fair and second prize in an exhibition at the Oakland Art Gallery in 1936. Also in 1936, he exhibited in Los Angeles at Stendahl Galleries and in a solo show at Bothwell and Cooke; and with the Santa Cruz Art League in 1936 and 1938.
- Julian was included in exhibitions of artwork from the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP), one at the Paris Exposition in 1937, and another in San Francisco at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum entitled “Frontiers of American Art” (1939).
- Also in 1939, Julian exhibited in San Francisco at the Golden Gate International Exposition, followed in 1940 by shows in Los Angeles including a solo exhibition at the Chouinard Gallery, and group shows at Barker Brothers and Raymond and Raymond Galleries.
- During the early 1940s Julian created Federal Art Project murals for Southern California institutions, including his oil on canvas mural “The Orange Pickers” for the Fullerton Post Office. He also created murals for the U.S. Armory in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Clinic, Belvedere Gardens School in Los Angeles, and Upland Elementary School, where his petrachrome mosaic mural included 24 different colors of marble.
- Julian exhibited with the Los Angeles Art Association throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and his whimsical painting “I Hate Birds” was included in the Association’s show in 1946.
- By the mid-1940s, Julian was working as a background artist for animated films at Warner Bros. and other Hollywood studios; and he continued to exhibit, with the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild (1943), Zeitlin and VerBrugge (1944), Vanbark Studios (1947), with the Screen Artists at the John Decker Studios (1948, 1949), and in a show of lithographs at Lynton R. Kistler’s gallery (1948).
- Through the 1950s Julian had one-man shows at the Mid-Twentieth Gallery (1949), the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1950), and the Landau Gallery (1951, 1954, 1957). Group shows included the Pasadena Art Institute (1950), Chaffey Community Art Association (1951), “Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1953, 1955), and the California Water Color Society at Long Beach Municipal Art Center (1953).
- During his career in animation, Julian also contributed voice and sound effects, including the iconic “beep-beep” sound of the Road Runner character; and beyond background art he filled many other roles including production designer, title designer and art director. In 1953 he served as both designer and color artist for “The Tell-Tale Heart,” which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Subject. He served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1975 and 1976, and was the first designer-painter to receive an “Annie” award from the International Animation Society in 1980. He is credited on over 100 animated films, the last being “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” (1992).
- A tempera copy of Julian’s Fullerton Post Office mural was included in the exhibition “Dream and Perspective: The American Scene in Southern California, 1930 to 1945” at the Laguna Art Museum in 1991. Paul Julian passed away in Van Nuys, California in 1995.