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Pixar at the MOMA: Part II

Pixar at the MOMA: Part II

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I had just finished watching my "Dream on Silly Dreamer" DVD. First, let me just say, that this is a great film and a great DVD. Any Disney or animation fan should include this Tony West & Dan Lund film as a permanent part of their library. This documentary about the closing of Disney's traditional 2-D animation unit is very revealing and quite sad actually.

One interview with a particular clean-up artist, Jacki Sanchez, was pretty ironic given all that has transpired between Disney and Pixar in the last few months. She was discussing what was referred to as "The Tom Meeting," the now infamous meeting called by Tom Schumacher, President of Walt Disney Feature Animation. It was in this meeting where Tom informed the animation staff that they were indeed shuttering 2-D animation to concentrate on producing 3-D animated films. This unbelievable example of corporate short sightedness provoked Jacki to say to Tom's face: "Why do you want to be Pixar? We'll never be Pixar, they have John Lasseter, we don't!"

John Lasseter caricature from Pixar exhibition
Photo by Chris Barry

Ironic, isn't it? It was interesting to see how highly regarded Mr. Lasseter was in the eyes of this traditional animator even as she was being handed her pink slip. I wonder what she would say now that John has taken over the reigns of Disney's animation division.

What it made me say was, "I really have to finish that article on the MOMA Pixar show." If you remember my last article I described in detail my amazement at this recent showing of Pixar's art at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Here are some more great memories.

As I waited on line to pay, I knew I was in for a great day as Luxo danced across the wall of video monitors in MOMA's lobby.

Luxo, the icon for Pixar Studios, dances across monitors at the MOMA in New York City
Photo by Chris Barry

I loved this early study of Sulley's fur stiffness.

Pixar fur stiffness study for the Monsters Inc. character Sulley
Photo by Chris Barry

One of my all time favorite Pixar creations is Ducky from "Toy Story."

 

An engineering type drawing of Ducky, the toy mashup from Pixar's feature film Toy Story
Photo by Chris Barry

I loved this maquette of Edna...

Maquette sculpture of the character Edna from Pixar's animated feature The Incredibles
Photo by Chris Barry

...but not as much as this one from "Finding Nemo."

 

Artists maquette of an angler fish from Pixar's animated feature Finding Nemo
Photo by Chris Barry

Here's me channeling my inner Sid. I think I may have blown up a Combat Carl or two in my day.

The author and a bust of Sid from Pixar's animated feature film Toy Story, at the MOMA Pixar exhibit
Photo by Chris Barry

Once I see "Cars" this summer, I'll be able to appreciate where this tractor's inspiration came from.

A series of drawings that show the bovine inspiration for the tractors in Pixar's animated feature Cars
Photo by Chris Barry

Like I've said before, the Pixar show was a joy to behold. It made me appreciate these guys even more than I thought I did before. Now that the merger is truly in the works my faith in the future of Disney animation has been renewed.

There were two additional components of this show that I almost missed. They were created specifically for this showing and what a loss it would have been if I left without seeing them. One was something called "Artscape" a film directed by Andrew Jiminez. It's hard to describe. Imagine walking through the various galleries of Pixar artwork. You spend an hour or two admiring the different drawings and paintings. Now imagine these concept drawings actually being animated as they are, in their rough state. The audience was able to enter the artwork and travel through the various worlds created by these brilliant artists. It was a whole new way to experience the work. I loved watching the art come alive on the big screen.

In the same room as "Artscape" was the equally remarkable Toy Story Zoetrope. Once again it was hard to describe, but bear with me. At first glance, it appeared to resemble a sort of carousel of Toy Story characters. It was rather large and behind glass. A zoetrope is an early type of film technology that gives inanimate objects the appearance of motion. Think of it as a 3-D flipbook. Several small character maquettes, this time in full color, are set on a revolving disk. Each character is in a slightly different pose indicating progressive movement. As the disk rotates faster and faster the characters are hit with a strobe light and magically a circle of many Buzz Lightyears each in a different pose, becomes one Buzz bouncing around on a rubber ball. Woody rides a bucking Bullseye. Wheezy propels a green alien off of a seesaw and the Green Army Men parachute out of their giant tub.

It is a wonderful sight and a great way to demonstrate animation's basic methodology. The ooohhs and aaahhs from the crowd were proof of its effectiveness.

I would've been thrilled by the three floors of Pixar art alone. "Artscape" and The Toy Story Zoetrope were certainly the icing on the proverbial cake. This led me to thinking, "I need to see this all again!" I made it to MOMA on the last day of the exhibit though, and I wasn't heading overseas to London or Tokyo to follow it to its next two showings. So, my hope is with John and Pixar being fully brought into the Disney fold, wouldn't it be great if this exhibit found a more permanent home in a Disney park? I could picture "Artscape" in a "Mickey's Philharmagic" type of theater, maybe at MGM or California Adventure. The Toy Story Zoetrope is screaming for a permanent home at one of Disney's parks, so everyone can appreciate its wonder.

Maybe now that John Lasseter has such an important position at Disney, he'll bring these unique Pixar works into the theme parks for everyone to enjoy.

What do you all think?

 

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