No pink in his palette

Blake Edwards remembers shopping for sculptures to be featured in “The Man Who Loved Women,” his 1983 comedy that starred Burt Reynolds as an artist who spends more time in the bedroom than in the studio. But the director was having difficulty finding the kind of abstract art that he thought the film needed.

“I wanted the sculptures to be all original works since this was a movie about an artist,” Edwards recalls. At the insistence of friends, the director, an amateur artist himself, decided to take on the challenge of creating the sculptures for his own movie, one of which was a large-scale outdoor installation composed of swooping curves that he eventually titled “Man of the World.”

Though the movie has long since faded from memory, “Man of the World” lives on and can be seen in a smaller-scaled bronze version in “The Art of Blake Edwards,” a retrospective of the director’s work at the Pacific Design Center through Jan. 30.

The show represents the first time in 25 years that Edwards’ art has been shown in public.


“I didn’t want to do it,” Edwards says of the exhibition. “My artwork is my own private vice -- I don’t have to worry about competing with anyone or worrying what the critics would say. Even by giving this interview, I feel like I’ve sold out to the devil.”

Eventually, Edwards’ family, including his wife, Julie Andrews, persuaded him to go forward with the show. The exhibition contains close to 130 paintings and sculptures.

“The works are very diverse, but you see the same sense of humor and whimsy as in his films,” says Gail Oppenheimer, the curator of the show.

Edwards, best known for “10,” “Victor/Victoria” and the “Pink Panther” films, started creating art in 1969 and has completed more than 200 works. His paintings fall mostly within the Abstract Expressionist category, with bright colors and Surrealistic touches that suggest the influences of Joan Miro, Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso.


One recurring image in the exhibition is a duck. Several bronze sculptures feature the birds in comic repose, sitting on their tail feathers. “I’m sure it has to do with the time I gave an interview and I was asked, in effect, what I do about critics who don’t like my films,” recounts Edwards. “So I said to them, ‘I just duck.’ ”

The exhibition also features jewelry that the director made for his wife. “I was traveling and I told him that I wished I could take something that was his,” Andrews recalls. “And that was the beginning of that.”

Though he is now 86, Edwards says he has no plans to stop working on his art. “I may have stopped making films, but I’m not going to stop making paintings and sculptures.”

-- David Ng