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Bedard, Michael

Michael Bedard was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario (near Detroit), and finally settled in Los Angeles in 1971. He has no formal art training, but has been drawing since he was a boy. Michael Bedard is the artist who created the now world-famous "Sitting Ducks" poster. Sitting Ducks - first released in the late '70s, which pictured three cartoonesque personified ducks, Casually sitting poolside, complete with sunglasses and iced tea, one of them looking quizzically over his shoulder at two ominous bullet holes just deposited in the stucco behind them - is one of the most widely recognized, largest selling posters in the history of the medium. It has reputedly been seen in Cities as far reaching as Marakesh. Bedard first entered the art marketplace in 1977 with a series of strange and bizarre art prints - many of which are still in print today He has consistently topped the list of best selling posterists for nearly twenty years. Almost no other artist can make that claim. Bedard went on to introduce new characters - alligators and crows - but it has been his ducks that catapulted him to international fame, bizarre compositions with strange and provocative titles, such as "First Ducks on Mars," and "The Failure of Capitalism." In Japan, Bedard is thought of In almost superstar status, beginning with a series of commercials he did for Akai in the 1980's. He has had many sold out one-man exhibitions in and around Los Angeles, where he has lived since the late sixties. In addition to several book projects, Bedard has; two movie deals in the works with major film studios which will result in full length, animated feature films. Bedard's work is characterized by his rapier-like wit - you don't immediately know you've been impaled, because the blade is so sharp. There is nearly always a social commentary that lies underneath the whimsical imagery. One must look beyond the visual gag employed by the composition to the real purpose of the painting - usually an important social issue that concerns him. Like many artists whose work is deceptively simple, Bedard is not. He is a complex and driven man, who many times is overwhelmed by the scores of projects he has feverishly put into the works. He labors over each, painstakingly researching the issues, the treatment of the characters, the effort on the viewer, doing drawing after drawing before he ever sizes the canvas or gessoes the board. Forever a student he is extremely knowledgeable about the history of world art. His large, airy studio in a remote section of the Los Angeles area is filled to the rafters with well thumbed art and reference books. But what isn't commonly known about Bedard is the wealth of material he has created over the last thirty years that has never been published. Works of art that are as bizarre and wonderful as the ducks are amusing. It's that body of work which inspires the projects he has undertaken with Planet West Publishers. Michael Bedard's work has always pushed the art envelope - stepping up to the edge or serious controversy and peering over stopping just short of taking sides, content, for the most part, with raising the issues. But he is not content to rest on his laurels - he is taking his artwork to the next level. And despite his movie and book deals, it's still the drawing and painting he loves. In the early eighties, Michael Bedard was looking for a way to express a broad range of feelings about the human condition and wanted to use humor as a vehicle for addressing very serious issues such as, vulnerability, alienation and anxiety as well as social and political observations. The duck was chosen because it symbolized the vulnerability and attitude that comprises the human psyche. The duck characters immediately struck a chord with people about how fragile we feel in these modern times. The illusion that consumer comforts create a safety zone from the dangers of life is so pervasive that many actually hide behind these paper-thin walls and feel protected. The "SITTING DUCKS" concept pokes a funny hole through this fragile concept. It shows that even when one is having a "safe" moment relaxing with friends on a lounge chair with a favorite drink, one can suddenly become a target of one of life's merciless hunters. That theme of "vulnerability" carries through the Bedard duck series and has allowed the artist to expand the concept to examine the frailty of politics ("Failure of Marxism" and "Failure of Capitalism") and even relationships ("Living Together"). The duck character, in retrospect was an excellent choice because of the nature of the animal itself. Even though a duck is very vulnerable to attack by superior forces (dogs, wolves, falcons, etc.) this wonderful creature displays an aggressive attitude when confronted by danger. The duck's only defense is this "bluff" that creates uncertainty and fear with its adversaries. This attitude is what has made the duck an appropriate icon for challenging the problems that threaten us all. Bedard says, "I had no idea that these silly little characters would become so popular, but I take great pleasure in that they've become universally accepted. As an artist, I am grateful to be able to communicate through such a vehicle that transcends all language and cultural barriers."




H&S Art Corp