Art exhibition: Inspiring Walt Disney – The Animation of French Decorative Arts (6 April – 16 October 2022)

From this week until October, The Wallace Collection – in collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – presents the magic of Disney, as you have never seen it before.
 
The small but stunning exhibition titled Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts (6 April – 16 October 2022) displays American 20th-century hand-drawn animation alongside French 18th-century art to reveal the surprising and enchanting connections between these two artistic movements.

 
 
Drawing on the outstanding artworks of the Wallace Collection and spectacular international loans, the exhibition highlights the exceptional talent and innovation of both the Walt Disney Animation Studios artists and the creative pioneers of the French 18th-century. Although separated by two centuries, the artists, craftsmen and animators all had the same ambition – to breathe life, character, and charm into the inanimate.
 
The exhibition focuses on Walt Disney’s personal fascination with France and the way in which artists behind the most iconic films looked to French 18th-century artworks for their source material. These connections are explored through the juxtaposition of illustrations by artists in the Walt Disney Animation Studios and a selection of the finest 18th-century furniture and porcelain, highlighting the humour, wit, and ingenuity of French Rococo decorative arts.
 
Seeing the art in this unique context encouraged me to look at these masterpieces in new ways. Over 120 production artworks and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and the Walt Disney Archives are on display, alongside approximately 30 great 18th-century artworks.
 
These include Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s much-loved, recently conserved painting, The Swing (c.1767), which provided inspiration for not one but three Disney films (Beauty and the Beast – 1991), Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013).
 
It’s difficult to say what I enjoyed the most, but maybe I’d say the succession of detailed drawings to create the transformation of Cinderella into a Princess. The video showcasing that metamorphosis is stunning too and makes you appreciate Disney’s early work.
 
Families with children would certainly enjoy this, although this exhibition is more suitable for children from 10+. 

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