Walt Disney’s secret inspiration? French decorative arts

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the Little Mermaid lyrics: “Look at this stuff, isn’t it great?” will take on a new level of meaning for museum-goers visiting the Met’s last exhibition, “Inspiring Walt Disney: Animation of French Decorative Arts. Running from December 10, 2021 to March 6, 2022, the show is the institution’s first exploration of Walt Disney and his studio’s hand-drawn animation, as well as 18th-century art, furniture, and artifacts. who inspired them.

“I have always had a great fascination with hand-drawn animation and these huge workshops with different creative artists and personalities working together to create a unified work of art,” said Wolf Burchard, the curator of the exhibition. , at AD PRO. Burchard first thought about the idea for the exhibition five years ago, before joining the Met as associate curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. In the role, Burchard helped inaugurate the museum’s new British galleries.

He continues, “When I watched Disney movies as a kid, it was always through a historical lens of art that I looked at the development of design and style. My area of ​​expertise is the 17th and 18th centuries, so I thought to myself: How can I bring these two worlds together? I realized that there are so many areas of overlap that could be explored in terms of producing Disney art design and rhetoric.

Manufacture de Sèvres (French, 1740-present). Covered tower-shaped vase, circa 1762. Soft-paste porcelain.

Photo: courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, CA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Burchard describes the exhibition as a “pinching moment of myself.” The show is organized jointly with the Wallace collection in London, where the show will travel in spring 2022 before its next stopover at Huntington Library, art museum and botanical gardens in San Marino, California. The iteration of the Met includes 60 works of art from the 18th century as well as 150 production items and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Imagineering Collection, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. These articles span from the 1930s to the present day.

To strike the right balance between “youthful playfulness and academic sobriety”, exhibition designer Patrick Herron has created elegant arcades to lead visitors through each of the themed rooms. Comprised of layers meant to evoke the way cells were stacked in Disney animated films, the arches step up from a more modest Gothic Revival style to an undulating rococo bloom.

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