Press Release | Articles & Interviews | Exhibit Catalog | Archival Prints for Sale
PHOTOS: Preparation | David Byrd Lecture | Opening Festivities

For more information on the exhibit, go to



'Richard Amsel: A Retrospective' at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery

Native Philadelphian and university alumnus created “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and many other movie posters

This flyer promoting the exhibit features Amsel's final comp in preparation for the Raiders of the Lost Ark re-release poster. Art copyright (c) Dorian Hannaway/University of the Arts.

PHILADELPHIA (February 13, 2009) – To mark the acquisition of the more than 500-piece collection of illustrations and sketches of alumnus Richard Amsel, The University of the Arts will present "Richard Amsel: A Retrospective” at its Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery (333 S. Broad St., Philadelphia) from April 15 – May 14.

The exhibition showcases more than 50 works from the world’s largest collection of Amsel sketches and illustrations. The show includes preliminary studies for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” movie posters; Bette Midler album covers and posters; TV Guide cover portraits of Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson and Katharine Hepburn, and never-before exhibited or published sketches providing a glimpse into Amsel’s process – from initial sketches through finished art. The exhibition and catalogue have been made possible by a grant from the Richard C. von Hess Foundation.

A 1969 graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art (now The University of the Arts), Amsel created some of the most recognizable, iconic show business-related imagery of the late 20th century before he died in 1985. His “AMSEL” signature can be found on posters for more than 30 major motion pictures, close to 40 TV Guide cover illustrations and numerous album covers and concert posters.

A close friend of Amsel’s and the director of Late Night Programming at CBS Television in Los Angeles for 15 years, Dorian Hannaway donated the collection and designated it as a teaching resource for the university.

“I believe University of the Arts students will be inspired by seeing Richard’s original work,” Hannaway said. “My hope is that it will educate future generations of artists. I’m grateful that the university is preserving his art as well as maintaining the legacy of one of its famous alumni.”

Once catalogued and conserved, the collection will be made available to scholars and researchers of illustration, film, television and American pop culture of the 1970s and ’80s. Ultimately, the retrospective will be made available to travel to other universities, libraries and museums.

The staging of the retrospective is a collaborative effort among University of the Arts Museum Studies students and faculty and entertainment business professionals. Joe Stewart of the Emmy Award-winning Shaffner/Stewart team, set designer for “Friends,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Rachael Ray,” designed the multimedia environment housing the exhibit.

The University of the Arts is the nation’s first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its 2,300 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. The institution’s roots as a leader in educating creative individuals date back to 1868.


The Associated Press did a writeup on the exhibit, which was circulated everywhere from Kansas to Canada! Here's a link to the article, as featured on The Journal-Standard website.

The Philadelphia Daily News article.

Philadelphia Weekly article.

The Philadelphia Inquirer review.

WHY Y News & Information Channel article & audio clip.

My interviews with THE INDYCAST! Host Ed Dolista and I spoke over two sessions about Richard Amsel's life, career, and his unforgettable contributions to the first Indiana Jones film.


Sirius 109: On April 29th, 2009, Dorian Hannaway did a radio interview with Sirius channel 109. I'm looking to get my hands on a recording of the broadcast. Can anyone help?


This retrospective catalog is limited in quantity, and is the definitive resource on Amsel's work.

To coincide with the exhibit, The University of the Arts produced a special catalog, the definitive resource of the artist's work. This beautiful, 48-page book features color illustrations of highlights from the exhibit, some of which have never before been published. (Not even on this site!)

Also included are personal tributes to Amsel (from such noted celebrities as Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin), biographical information on the artist, and a comprehensive list of all his official movie posters and TV Guide covers.

Quantities are extremely limited. Contact The University of the Arts for more information.


Art and movie fans now have the opportunity to purchase special archival prints of Richard Amsel's famous poster illustrations for:

  • RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1982 rerelease)

Available to the public for the first time, these beautiful, limited edition (1000 each), high quality color digital prints are made from high resolution digital image files color matched to the original illustration art and printed using archival paper and inks. Each print measures 13" x 19", and costs $60.00 + shipping & handling. (University of the Arts students receive a discounted price of $35.00.) These are not reproductions of the final movie posters, but of Amsel's original art without the text and titles.

Click here for an order form.


All photos on this page copyright (c) 2009 Adam McDaniel unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2009

Outside the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery on Broad Street, downtown Philadelphia.
One of the more elaborate parts of the exhibit came to be called both "The Raiders Room" and "The Temple of Doom" --
which would house Amsel's pieces for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Above is a pic of me trying to be useful.
These are pictures of the gallery's model. It was designed by Joe Stewart and Mike Leonard of the Emmy-winning Stewart/Shaffner firm (whose credits include “Friends,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Rachael Ray”). From the beginning, producer Dorian Hannaway was adamant that the exhibit of her late friend's work was to be in the colorful, "razzle dazzle" fashion that Amsel's illustrations deserved, and not your usual stale, ho-hum white-walls-and-negative-space.

This facade was the centerpiece of the main room, holding Amsel's sketches for such films as The Sting, Flash Gordon, Papillion, and others. Young Joseph Amsel (Richard's nephew) stopped by during the setup; at right is a pic of him admiring his late uncle's work.


"Bombast & Ballyhoo: The Power of the Poster", delivered prior to the opening night festivites.
Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Byrd's flyer for the lecture, Copyright (c) David Edward Byrd.

David Edward Byrd at the podium inside Hamilton Hall.


Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Two university students dressed up for the occasion -- girl named Anna, who kindly posed for a picture, and a young man as Indiana Jones. Oddly, our "Bette" was quite tall, while "Indy" was closer to the real diva's actual height.
Opening ceremonies. At right: Amsel's family (including nephew Joseph, siblings Michael and Marsha) pose for photos with the University of the Arts president and exhibit producer Dorian Hannaway. Hannaway, a close friend of Richard Amsel's and caretaker of much of his work, donated over 500 pieces to the university, and was the one who made the exhibit possible.

Miscellaneous pictures, including several inside "The Raiders Room" -- the entrance allows visitors to walk "through" the circular backdrop to Amsel's rerelease poster. Also on display was merchandise featuring Amsel's Indiana Jones illustrations, to show just how much the work, like the films, had influenced pop culture. (I can't imagine anyone actually OWNING all that Raiders shit... I wonder where they got it?)