Richard Day Biography

Richard Day

American

1896-1972

Biography

Richard Welsted Day, printmaker and art director, was born in Victoria, British Columbia on May 9, 1896. His education consisted of private tutoring, a natural talent for drawing which he developed without professional lessons, and voracious reading. After serving with the Canadian army in World War I, he returned to Victoria and began his career as a commercial artist.

In 1920, Day arrived in Hollywood hoping to find a career in the emerging motion picture industry. Befriended by Eric Von Stroheim, he was hired as a scene painter for the film Foolish Wives but was soon elevated to art director. The pursuit of his new career led him to MGM and then to 20th Century Fox where he became Supervising Art Director. Day worked on hundreds of films which earned him forty Academy Award nominations and his genius was awarded with the coveted Oscar for Dark Angel, How Green Was My Valley, This Above All, My Gal Sal, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and Dodsworth. He designed and built some of the largest sets of his time and in 1935, Day was the highest-paid art director in Hollywood.

During the 1930s Day did a number of very fine lithographs which were professionally printed by Paul Roeher. These were shown at Jake Zeitlin's Book Shop and in 1932 Merle Armitage published The Lithographs of Richard Day. His lithographs were shown in 1935 at the California-Pacific International Exposition in San Diego and are represented in the collection of the Library of Congress. Carl Zigrosser wrote the introduction to The Lithographs of Richard Day in which he praised Day: "His work must be reckoned with. Here is a new lithographer, fresh in design, original in point of view, enlivened with a sense of humor. Outstanding among his recent works,....Hotel in Cuernavaca for...its...striking juxtapositions and arrangement of plastic form."

Richard M. Day died in Woodland Hills, California on May 23, 1972.