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Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts

Burchard, Wolf (2021)

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Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (16)
Exhibition
Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts
December 6, 2021–March 6, 2022

Pink castles, talking sofas, and a prince transformed into a teapot: what sounds like fantasies from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ pioneering animations were in fact the figments of the colorful salons of Rococo Paris. The Met’s first-ever exhibition exploring the work of Walt Disney and the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ hand-drawn animation will examine Disney’s personal fascination with European art and the use of French motifs in his films and theme parks, drawing new parallels between the studios’ magical creations and their artistic models.

Sixty works of 18th-century European decorative arts and design—from tapestries and furniture to Boulle clocks and Sèvres porcelain—will be featured alongside 150 production artworks and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Imagineering Collection, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. Selected film footage illustrating the extraordinary technological and artistic developments of the studios during Disney’s lifetime and beyond will also be shown.

The exhibition will highlight references to European visual culture in Disney animated films, including nods to Gothic Revival architecture in Cinderella (1950), medieval influences on Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Rococo-inspired objects brought to life in Beauty and the Beast (1991). The exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast’s animated theatrical release.