You can’t help but love this wonderful display of Disney art direction over the years. From the forties films I saw as a child, to the sixties movies I actually worked on. Finally, a look at the visual development from the film “Tangled.” The beautiful production design introduces animation’s evolution in the new millenium. Fresh and new, yet it remains as classic as the Disney art that preceeded it.
Years ago, beautiful, original animation art was always on view in the Animation Building. I would suppose this was standard operating procedure in most film studios around town. When I visited Warner Bros Animation back in the fifties I noticed that the backgrounds for every animated short was pinned to a large board that covered the wall. There was something truly cool about seeing every background in an animated production pinned to a board. You were given a sense of style, continuity and a marvelous art show all wrapped into one. When I returned to the Walt Disney Studio in the eighties I couldn’t even find the backgrounds for the film then in production. In the nineties I recall a few backgrounds being displayed, but that was pretty much restricted to the background department. Now, that most background art is digital, there seems to be less of a reason to display the artwork. Yet, having this art work on view provides something extremely important for the team making the movie. When we were laboring away on Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty back in the fifties we would often take a break from our drawing boards and head upstairs. Why did we do that, you ask? Simply seeing the gorgeous background art being painted by Eyvind Earle and his team provided much needed inspiration. The finished background paints pinned in the hallway reminded us of where we were headed. Though the animated film was a long way from completion, simply seeing the beautiful backgrounds provided a creative shot in the arm when we truly needed it.
As you view the beautiful backgrounds by Claude Coats, Mary Blair, Walt Peregoy, Dan Cooper and David Goetz you realize the style of each production can vary widely. Yet, the one thing they have in common is that all are totally Disney in their use of color, styling and design sensibility. It’s something I’ve always loved about this amazing artform and no matter how much I see, I can never get enough.