A new exhibition at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offers an illustrated history lesson about animation and a glimpse inside the meticulous processes used to create an animated film.
"Oscars in Animation," which opens Thursday at the Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor Galleries at the academy, features rare and original animation art spanning seven decades from 1932--when the first Academy Award was presented in the category of animation--to the present. The exhibition includes color cels, drawings, storyboards and 3-D character models from such films as 1932's "Flowers and Trees" (the first Technicolor short and the first to win the Oscar), "Dumbo," "The Lion King," "Toy Story" and "Shrek."
The exhibit showcases the work of such animators as Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Cordell Barker, George Pal and John Lasseter, along with work by several generations of Disney animators.
Mike Glad and the Glad Family Trust have donated the majority of the material featured in the exhibition. Glad has been collecting animation art since he was 7 and has kept the material in vaults at his home.
The material is in mint condition--even simple line drawings from Disney short films "Flowers and Trees" and "Ferdinand the Bull" (1938) look like they could have been drawn yesterday. The color cels are as vibrant now as they were seven decades ago.
Glad has collaborated with the academy on several animation exhibitions, including one on puppets and another on the best of Soviet animation.
Perusing his vaults at home, he realized the extraordinary material he had of work that had won or been nominated for Oscars.
"It just became so apparent that the scope and depth of his collection was so much greater than we were able to do justice to in previous exhibits," says Robert Smolkin, manager of special events and exhibitions for the academy.
The only weakness in his collection is in the field of computer animation. "There just isn't original art because it is all computer-generated and there are no cels to collect," says Smolkin. "There are some concept drawings, but his collection was lacking in that area. So we did go directly to various production houses like Pixar and DreamWorks."
Pixar, DreamWorks and Aardman Animation ("Wallace & Gromit") in England have supplied early concept drawings and models from such films as "Toy Story," "Shrek" and "A Close Shave."
The exhibition shows how artists were given free reign in their early concept drawings for an animated project. A beautiful early color drawing from Disney's "Snow White," for example, looks as if it stepped out of the pages of an illustrated Germanic fairy tale book.
"You see how the artists' minds were working and you can imagine the kind of discussion that was going on between Walt and his animators as they conceived these ideas," says Smolkin.
The exhibition also illustrates how the color schemes changed in Disney's animated films during the 1930s. The early Technicolor cartoons such as "Flowers and Trees" and "The Three Little Pigs" used bold colors. "By the later 1930s, the work became more subdued," says Glad. "There was a tremendous styling change. Some of the early 'Snow White' drawings are very bright and primary, but if you look at the final product, it's toned down."
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Academy Standards Screening will present an evening of Oscar-winning animated shorts in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Aug. 16. Among the cartoons to be screened are Disney's "The Ugly Duckling," Chuck Jones' "The Dot and the Line" and Nick Parks' "The Wrong Trousers."
"Oscars in Animation" is on display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, through Oct. 6. The hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. Admission to the exhibition is free. Information: (310) 247-3600.
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"Flowers and Trees" (1932): background, two concept sketches and a model sheet
"Ferdinand the Bull" (1938): original art; production background
"Gulliver's Travels" (1939) cel and background; concept sketch
"The Ugly Duckling" (1939): cel and background
"Dumbo" (1941): storyboard page
"Superman" (1941) cel and background
"Bambi" (1942): key setup painting; signed color key
"Gerald McBoing Boing" (1950): cel and background
"Jerry's Cousin" (1950) concept sketch
"Speedy Gonzales" (1955): multiple drawings
"Mister Magoo's Puddle Jumper" (1956) cel and background
"Sleeping Beauty" (1959): pre-production art, signed by Marc Davis; color key; cel and background; layout
"The Dot and the Line" (1965): production cel
"Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" (1968): cel art
"Aladdin" (1992): cel and background
"A Close Shave" (1995): "muttonomatic" illustration; illustration of "Preston"