New York–based painter and illustrator Riccardo Vecchio has made a name for himself with his evocative portraits and cityscapes. But for the last few years, he has returned to his Italian roots, devoting himself to depicting the Alpine mountains he came to know as a child growing up outside Milan. These dramatic canvasses drew the attention of Criterion art director Sarah Habibi, who was particularly impressed by his rendering of the vertiginous terrain’s jagged rock surfaces. The artist had worked with Criterion before, creating likenesses for our covers of Andrzej Wajda’s Danton and Jonathan Demme’s A Master Builder. But it was this recent landscape work that Habibi had in mind when it came time to produce a cover image for our release of Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, an intimate observational drama set against the backdrop of the Montana Rockies.
In this video, the first entry in our series Studio Visits, Vecchio recounts the process of creating the painting for the edition. During our trip to his workspace, he described how he set out to honor the emotional subtlety of Reichardt’s vision, and how the final image—depicting a moment from the film in which a driver veers off the road, while the snow-capped mountains loom large in the distance—was selected after several rounds of preliminary sketches in a variety of styles.