December 19, 2014
Here’s a fuzzy cell phone shot of the Bradbury living room looking west toward the front entryway and, beyond it, the dining room. Worth noting: On the wall to the right is the painting Modern Gothic by Los Angeles artist Joseph Mugnaini. Mugnaini was, of course, Ray Bradbury’s longtime illustrator and cover artist. Along with the iconic cover of Fahrenheit 451, Muganini created the cover for The Golden Apples of the Sun, as well as the story illustrations inside the book. He also provided cover art and story illustrations in The October Country, The Halloween Tree, and other works.
Bradbury first encountered Mugnaini’s work in April 1952 while strolling through Beverly Hills with his wife Maggie. They happened by an art gallery window and there, Ray found an artistic kindred spirit. “It was a spooky moment when I saw that Joe’s mind and my mind met somewhere out in space,” Bradbury said in my book, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury.
They went into the gallery and Bradbury was magnetized. He first spotted the work Modern Gothic, a rendering of a gothic house. It was the kind of domicile Bradbury’s vampire family from his story “The Homecoming” might live in. But the house had a modern urban twist: outside was a shadowy, cloaked figure standing near a graffiti-covered billboard. Bradbury wanted to purchase a few of Mugnaini’s pieces, but realized he couldn’t afford them. So he contacted the artist and they started a friendship. Along the way, Bradbury paid for the pieces in installments. One of them was the 23” by 36.5” oil painting Modern Gothic. From this art gallery encounter, Ray Bradbury met his longtime artistic collaborator.
A photo of Ray Bradbury in 1956 taken by film historian and critic Arthur Knight. Bradbury is standing beside Modern Gothic. This photo was not taken in Bradbury’s Cheviot Drive home; it was taken two years before the family moved in. This photograph shows Bradbury in his first home, at 10750 Clarkson Road.
Here I am standing next to the famed Modern Gothic, in 2003.
Modern Gothic by Joseph Mugnaini.
Next to Mugnaini’s Modern Gothic is a stunning original 41″ x 31″ oil painting on board by Disney artist Eyvind Earle of the golden California hills.