Untitled (City Sunrise)
25 ¼ x 16 in.; 64.1 x 40.6 cm.
Gift of Charles Lisanby
This painting is a set design from Charles’ early career in New York, probably made during his tenure at CBS. Charles began working for CBS in 1954, when the production company offered him a job on The Jane Froman Show, pledging to pay him twice what he had been making. Over the next four decades, Charles worked on and off designing sets and for a variety of CBS shows and special broadcasts. Among the shows that Charles’ regularly designed sets for were the $64,000 Question, Camera Three, and the Garry Moore Show. In 1974, Charles was asked to design the sets for a mini-series about Ben Franklin—the first mini-series ever produced for television. Ben Franklin would also win Charles his first Emmy in 1975 for “Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction or Scenic Design” alongside set decorator Robert Checchi.
Throughout his career, Charles constantly sought creative and innovative means to enhance his sets and was responsible for pioneering several key features of modern television. When he first began working for CBS, color television was in its infancy and its potential was still largely unknown. Through his colorful scenes and costumes, like this painted set, Charles continually pushed the envelope, illuminating the aesthetic possibilities that color provided. One of Charles’ more direct contributions to modern television was his invention of a means to incorporate neon lights.