“On Location: Sketches of the film Giant by Ed Bearden”

Mildred Hawn Exhibition Gallery, Hamon Arts Library

Southern Methodist University

January 27-April 28, 2006


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In the summer of 1955, Dallas artist and SMU art professor Ed Bearden and his wife, Fran, accompanied John and Claire Rosenfield on an automobile trip to Marfa, on the edge of Big Bend National Park.  The purpose of the journey was to spend a few days during filming on the set of Giant, which was directed by George Stevens and released the following year.


Before casting Giant, Stevens had asked Bearden to draw the film’s storyboards.  This collaboration between director and artist had been arranged by Rosenfield, their mutual friend and veteran arts critic of the Dallas Morning News.  Bearden’s pen-and-ink portraits were enlarged and displayed on the set as a guide to makeup and costume crews.  Once in Marfa, Bearden executed additional pencil sketches on the set and in the surrounding area. 



The fiftieth anniversary of the release of what has been termed “the national film of Texas” is the occasion for this exhibition of a selection of these works.  All but four of the sketches, as well as photographs documenting the Beardens’ and Rosenfields’ visit, have been loaned by Fran Bearden; Dallas collector Forest Felvey has loaned the remaining sketches.  One of the sketches is a study for a landscape painting owned by Dallas collectors Don and Dian Malouf, which also is included in the exhibition.  In addition, the exhibition includes items from SMU’s DeGolyer Library, such as transcripts of interviews with members of the film’s cast, Rock Hudson, Jane Withers, and Earl Holliman.  These interviews were conducted by SMU history professor Dr. Ron Davis for DeGolyer Library’s Oral History Collection on the Performing Arts, now named in Davis’ honor.


 With a very few exceptions, Ed Bearden executed all of the works included in this exhibition in pencil.  Since Bearden identified only a few of the individuals depicted, Bob Hinkle, consultant for the film, provided valuable assistance in providing additional identification for a few of the other sketches.  Individuals portrayed by Bearden included director George Stevens, Sr. and screenwriter Fred Guiol as well as cast members Fran Bennett, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Bob Nichols, Alexander Scourby, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Watts, and Jane Withers.

 Special thanks to:

Jerry Bywaters Special Collections (Hamon Arts Library)

Friends of the SMU Libraries

William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies

SMU Office of News and Information

Dennis Moser, Digital Content Manager, Central University




For information regarding the exhibit please call or e-mail:

Sam Ratcliffe (214/768-2303)    or    Ellen Buie Niewyk (214/768-1859).


Hawn Gallery hours:

Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5 pm

Sunday, 1pm – 5 pm


For spring break (March 13-18)

and Easter break (April 14-16) hours,

 please call (214) 768-2894 or

consult the Hamon Break Hours page



Related links:

SMU News Item

Internet Movie Database

Marfa Texas

Giant News page