“Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts” takes over the “Sundays At The Met” edition


Earlier today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a special panel in its Sundays at the Met series related to their current exhibition which ends soon, Inspiring Walt Disney: the animation of French decorative arts.

During the session, a panel of experts, including two Disney animation legends, reflect on their careers, making the classic animated film The beauty and the Beast (1991), and Disney’s lasting legacy and impact on American culture. Glen Keane, Director of Animation, Glen Keane Productions and Supervising Animator of The Beast in Film, along with Don Hahn, Producer and Director, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Carmenita D. Higginbotham, Dean, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts join moderator Wolf Burchard, Associate Curator, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, The Met to discuss the film and its 18th century influences.

For those unable to attend the panel in person, the MET also broadcast it live on their YouTube and Facebook pages.

The panel focuses primarily on the 1991 film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, The beauty and the Beast and some behind-the-scenes history regarding its production. Briefly at the start of the presentation, host and moderator Wolf Burchard shares influences from 18th-century European art, particularly the Rococo period, and furniture designs, including a familiar-looking candelabra. Burchard also shares his appreciation for the laborious process of the art of animation and even features a specific wall in the exhibition that features 24 individual drawings from the clothing transformation sequence of Cinderella, representing the drawing that goes into these productions for only a single second of film.

Once Glen Keane and Don Hahn take the stage alongside Burchard and Higginbotham, the conversation turns to the film’s production, touching on production hiccups like the (now more common) story of the original version of the much-loved piece of furniture. more humanized, less magical and enchanted. of the movie. Those not too familiar with the film’s production will revel in these stories, but anyone with DVD or Blu-Ray copies of the film will recognize most of this content from the bonus features on their discs. We also didn’t get much feedback from producer Don Hahn as his audio was taken offline for his virtual appearance for most of the roundtable. The focus then was on Glen Keane and his iconic Beast transformation animated sequence. The story goes that he only had a week to do it according to the official production schedule, but Hahn knew how important this scene would be and allowed him to take the time he needed to do it. . In fact, the story has been told many times before and is found in the video below in a more succinct way, sharing the influence that master artists before him had on his work.

the Sunday at the MET The feature also features Keane taking a sketchbook and sharing the inspiration for the Beast character, and its roots in a taxidermy buffalo head bought by Hahn, who then tried to include it in an expense report. The session ends at this point, but we are reminded that there are only a few days left to enjoy the exposure at the MET.

From the official MET website:

Pink castles, talking sofas and objects that come to life: what looks like fantasies from the pioneering animation of the Walt Disney Animation Studios were in fact the fruit of the colorful salons of Rococo Paris. The Met’s first-ever exhibition exploring the work of Walt Disney and hand-drawn animation from the Walt Disney Animation Studios will examine Disney’s personal fascination with European art and the use of French motifs in its films and parks themed, drawing new parallels between the studios’ magical creations and their artistic models.

Sixty works of 18th-century European decorative arts and design – from tapestries and furniture to Boulle clocks and Sèvres porcelain – will be displayed alongside 150 works of art and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library , Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Imagineering Collection, and the Walt Disney Family Museum. Selected film clips illustrating the studio’s extraordinary technological and artistic developments during Disney’s lifetime and beyond will also be screened.

The exhibition will highlight references to European visual culture in Disney’s animated films, including nods to neo-Gothic architecture in Cinderella (1950), medieval influences on Sleeping Beauty (1959), and rococo-inspired objects staged in The beauty and the Beast (1991). The exhibition also marks the 30th anniversary of the lively theatrical release of The beauty and the Beast.

Regarding the exhibition and The beauty and the Beast, a series of galleries were devoted to the film 199, which Walt Disney himself had proposed for animation in the 1940s and 1950s. The famous tale was first published in 1740 by Suzanne-Gabrielle Barbot de Villeneuve, although a later, abridged adaptation (1756) by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont is more widely known.

This expansive section explores the subjects of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism in 18th-century French literature and decorative arts, Disney’s satirical take on rococo fashion, the interiors of the film’s Enchanted Castle, and the design and animation of the Beast and other characters. On display is a touching 16th-century portrait on loan from Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, Austria, of Magdalena González, who has been associated with the history of The beauty and the Beast for generations.

Young Magdalena had a genetic condition that covered her entire body with an unusual amount of hair; his story and that of his family was one of alienation and oppression. Preparatory film sketches displayed alongside 18th-century clocks, candlesticks and teapots (evoking the film’s characters of Cogsworth, Lumière and Mrs. Potts) will illustrate how Disney animators and Rococo craftsmen sought to bring to life to that which is essentially inanimate. Highlights also include a clock on a base by André Charles Boulle, gilt bronze candlesticks by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier and antique Meissen teapots, including an anthropomorph of a bearded man riding a miniature dolphin, as well as a pair of Sèvres elephant vases designed by Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis.

Particular attention is given to the transformation scene of the aforementioned Beast, inspired by the Burghers of Calais by the sculptor Auguste Rodin, as well as the ballroom scene, whose vast architectural decor is inspired by the Hall of Mirrors. of Versailles.

Inspiring Walt Disney: the animation of French decorative arts is now on view at the Met and is scheduled to run until March 6, 2022. You can take a look at more of the exhibition during our experience here.


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