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Friday, August 28, 2015

Chinese Animation Artwork at The China Art Museum In Shanghai, China


The China Art Museum (The China Art Palace)

This year on a trip abroad to China, and I had the pleasure of visiting The China Art Museum (also known as the China Art Palace) located in Pudong, Shanghai. The museum, which shows modern Chinese artwork, is housed in the former China Pavilion of Expo 2010 (World's Fair).  Expo 2010 had the largest number of countries to participate in any World's Fair, and was the most expensive Expo in history (more than $45 billion invested by the Chinese government). The China Art Palace was the tallest structure of the Expo, with an estimated construction cost of $220 million. It was designed by He Jingtang and resembles an ancient Chinese crown. The building was completed on February 8, 2010, has 1,790,000 square feet of floor space, currently displays about 14,000 works of art, and is the largest art museum in Asia.

It was simply impossible to go through the entire museum in a day, but what to my surprise, I stumbled upon a small room of framed animation artwork! As a child, one of my favorite cartoons was "Battle of the Planets." It featured five ninja heros dressed in bright bird costumes, complete with see through yellow beak helmets. There were also several space vehicles that would come together to form one super space ship called "The Phoenix." It would be many years later when I learned that "Battle of the Planets" was an English dubbed Anime cartoon from Japan, that was initially titled "Gatchaman." "Gatchaman" and the dubbed version "Battle of the Planets" still have a huge cult following and in 2013 the original Japanese version was released as a DVD boxed set. I think it is very easy for Americans to only think of animation as being from only Disney, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, or some other US animation studio; so this was an exciting chance to see animation cels and backgrounds from another country!


Chinese hand painted animation cels on production watercolor background from "Havoc In Heaven," 1961-1964.

The above work is a well known cartoon from the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. It was written by Li Keruo and Wan Laiming, directed by Wan Laiming, with music by Wu Yingiu. Animation was done by Yan Dingxian, Duan Jun, Pu Jiaxiang, Lu Qing, Lin Wenxiao, Ge Guiyun, Zhang Shimin and Yan Shanchun. The synopsis "Havoc In Heaven" is quoted from the information placard located on the wall next to the framed artwork:

"Monkey King, the leader of a group of monkeys, practices martial arts in the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. Unsatisfied with his weapons, he goes to East China Sea Dragon King's Palace to borrow some treasure weapons. The Dragon King promises that if he pulls away the Palace's Iron Rod - a golden cudgel, he will give it to him. However, after the Monkey King does so, the Dragon King eats his words and sues to the Heaven Palace. Jade Emperor, head of the Heaven Palace, cajoles Monkey King to the heaven and then puts him under house arrest. In great fury, the Monkey King shatters the Palace to pieces."


Chinese hand painted animation cel on production watercolor background.


Chinese animation hinged paper figures on production watercolor background.

The above work is composed of multiple painted pieces of paper that are hinged together to form both figures. The completed "paper dolls" allow for independent movement of the head, arms, hands, legs, feet, and torso. Each individual figure and each part of that figure could be moved independently, a little at a time, and photographed over a background to produce movement. This was a great way to utilize stop motion animation. Stop motion (also known as stop frame) is an animation technique that physically manipulates an object that appears to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous film sequence. Stop motion usually involves manipulation of dolls with movable joints or clay figures because of their ease in repositioning. The use of these Chinese "paper dolls" is a much more economical way of producing animation, compared to the creation of production drawings and individual hand painted cels. Clay animation or "clay-mation" is stop motion animation using modeling clay. Clay-mation was used in the US and Great Britain to produce classic animated films, including the famous works of Rankin/Bass ("Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," and "The Year Without a Santa Claus") and Nick Park ("Wallace and Gromit").


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Donald Duck from "Donald's Cousin Gus," 1939


Original production drawing of Donald Duck from "Donald's Cousin Gus," 1939; Red, green, blue, and graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 6 1/2 lower right; Size - Donald Duck: 4 1/4 x 5 3/4", Sheet 10 x 12"; Unframed.


"Donald's Cousin Gus" was the first ever pre-recorded program (in this case film) to be televised in the United States; airing as part of NBC's "first night" of sponsored programming on May 3, 1939. The short was produced by Walt Disney, distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, and directed by Jack King and Carl Barks. It was animated by Dick Lundy, Lee Morehouse, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Don Towsley. The story was written by Jack Hannah and Carl Barks. The short stars the voice talents of Clarence Nash as the voice of Donald Duck and Pinto Colvig as the voice of the Barking Hot Dog.


Close up of the Donald Duck original production animation drawing.


Close up of the production number.

The story of "Donald's Cousin Gus" is that Donald Duck is visited by his gluttonous cousin, Gus Goose; who then proceeds to eat Donald out of house and home. This was the first appearance of Gus Goose in film. This is a great drawing from the scene when Donald Duck uses his handcart to scoop up Gus, still seated on a dining chair, and trying to move him out of the house. Gus uses his umbrella to grab the top of the door trim to escape, and poor Donald ends up running into his mailbox. This drawing is right as Gus escapes the handcart and Donald is looking back. Note that his handcart still has, the now empty, dining room chair. The drawing is accomplished in red, green, blue, and graphite pencil on peg hole animation paper. Donald is full figure, eyes and mouth open, and his handcart is also drawn on the sheet. A great drawing of Donald Duck from a historically significant and wonderful Walt Disney cartoon from the 1930s!

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

video

Original Production Drawing of Goofy from "Polar Trappers," 1938


Original production drawing of Goofy from "Polar Trappers," 1938; Red and graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 97 lower right; Size - Goofy: 8 x 5 1/2", Sheet 10 x 12"; Unframed.


"Polar Trappers," (released on June 17, 1938) is a Technicolor animated short film and was the first cartoon that Donald Duck and Goofy appeared without Mickey Mouse. It was directed by Ben Sharpsteen, produced by Walt Disney Productions, distributed by RKO Radio Picture, and the music was written by Paul J. Smith. It was animated by Art Babbitt, Al Eugster, Vin Hoskins, Ed Love, Wolfgang Reitherman, Shamus Culhane, Bob Wickersham, Stan Quackenbush, and Cornett Wood. Veteran Voice actors reprised their famous roles with Pinto Colvig providing the voice of Goofy, and Clarence Nash providing the voice for Donald Duck.


Close up of the Goofy original production drawing.

The story of "Polar Trappers" is that Donald Duck and Goofy are at the South Pole trapping arctic animals. The name of Donald's and Goofy's trapping business is "Donald & Goofy Trapping Co," and their slogan is "We Bring 'Em Back Alive." As the short opens, Goofy is setting up an animal trap while singing "We Bring 'Em Back Alive," while Donald is in an igloo preparing a meal. Donald explains how sick he is of eating beans all the time, and then suddenly sees a penguin outside. He thinks that a penguin would be a a great stand-in for a roast chicken. The rest of the cartoon deals with Donald trying to lure a large group of penguins into his cooking pot, while Goofy is trying to catch a walrus.


Close up of the production number.

This is a very detailed and wonderful original animation production drawing of Goofy from the 1938 animated Walt Disney short, "Polar Trappers." The drawing is from the scene when Goofy wonders after a walrus and finds himself inside of an ice cave. The cave is filled with sharp icicles barely hanging from the roof of the cave, and they seem to be on the edge of falling with any sudden sound. Goofy takes a stick pin from his arctic coat and drops it on the ground to see if a tiny sound would cause the icicles to fall. This drawing is him removing the stick pin from his coat. Goofy is eyes open, wearing his polar coat and his iconic hat. The drawing is accomplished in red and graphite pencil on peg hole animation paper; and is an absolutely fantastic drawing of Goofy from the 1930's!

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

video

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Original production drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from "Ye Olden Days," 1933


Original production drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from "Ye Olden Days," 1933; Graphite and red pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 28 lower right; Size - Mickey Mouse: 2 1/4 x 2 3/4", Minnie Mouse: 2 1/2 x 2 3/4", Sheet 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.


"Ye Olden Days" (released April 8, 1933) is a black and white Walt Disney Company animated short film directed by Bert Gillett and animated by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Art Babbitt, and Norm Ferguson. It stars Pinto Colvig as the voice of Dippy Dawg (later renamed Goofy), Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse, and Marcellite Garner as the voice of Minnie Mouse.


Close up of the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse original production drawing.

The story of "Ye Olden Days" takes place in the middle ages. Mickey Mouse, the singing and lute playing wandering Minstrel, rides on his donkey and stumbles upon a castle. Inside the castle, the King is holding court, and Princess Minnie and Prince Dippy Dawg (later named Goofy) are about to marry. But Princess Minnie has second thoughts and ends up slapping the Prince. The King, angry over the incident, says to his Guards "Lock her in the attic!" Palace Guards lock Princess Minnie and her hand servant, Clarabelle Cow, in the attic. Minnie and Clarabelle start to cry and are overheard by Mickey, who is outside the tower window.

Mickey makes his way into the attic, through a window, and tells Minnie that he will save her. Mickey grabs Minnie and glides down a rope that was made from Clarabelle's clothing. As the pair make their way down the rope past a window, the King spots them and has them immediately arrested. The King threatens to chop Mickey's head off, but Minnie begs her father for forgiveness; because she has fallen in love with Mickey. 

The King then announces, "Clear the hall, we'll have a duel. The Prince shall battle this young fool!" Mickey and the Prince prepare themselves and their faithful steads for the duel. The duel begins between Mickey and the Prince and, when they both fall off their animals, a duel erupts between Mickey's donkey and the Prince's horse. Mickey's donkey bites the horse's bottom making him whinny and bump into a wall. A portrait of the King falls onto the horse, rendering him unconscious.  Minstrel Mickey eventually wins his duel with the Prince, who ends up falling out of a window. Then the Princess kisses her father the King, and goes off with Mickey. Both Mickey and Minnie sit atop Mickey's donkey as the crowd carries them outside. The film ends as Mickey and Minnie share a kiss, shielded behind a hand held fan.


Close up of the production number.

This is an absolutely wonderful drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from the black and white animated short "Ye Olden Days," 1933. It is rare to have more than one character on a single sheet of animation paper, and this is a fantastic image. This drawing is from the end of the film, when  Mickey is helping Princess Minnie up onto Mickey's donkey. Both characters are full figure, eyes open, and they are looking at each other and smiling. A great and rare image from one of the early Walt Disney cartoon shorts.

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

video

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Original Production Drawing of a Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player from "Woodland Cafe," 1937


Original production drawing of a Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player from "Woodland Cafe," 1937; Red, blue, green, light green, brown, yellow, orange, and graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 52 lower right; Size - Bass Player: 7 1/2 x 7 1/2", Sheet 10 x 12"; Unframed.


"Woodland Café,"1937 is a Silly Symphonies animated Walt Disney short film that was filmed in Technicolor. While it contained no on-screen credits, Wilfred Jackson was the director and Leigh Harline was the musical director.


Close up of the Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player production drawing.

The setting for "Woodland Cafe" is a Harlem-like jazz nightclub staffed and frequented entirely by insects. The band in the cafe, led by a Cab Calloway-like bandleader, is made up of grasshoppers playing instruments that are composed of wood and flowers. The animated short film is broken into three sections. In the first, the patrons are shown arriving, ushered to their tables, and then being served. The second features a performance of a good-girl fly resisting the advances of a bad-boy spider (eventually getting the better of him). Finally everyone ends up dancing, as the orchestra plays (and sings) "Everybody's Truckin," a song written by Fats Waller. The song showcased a dance style that was popular at the time; which involved the shoulders rising and falling as the dancers move towards each other, while the fore finger of the hand points up and wiggles back and forth. 


Close up of the production number.

This is an exceptional color reference drawing for one of the Grasshopper Jazz Band members. This particular drawing is the Bass Player and was used during the beginning of the short. Two small "baby bugs" have taken bites out of the wooden bass instrument (you can see a few bite holes in the bottom right part of the bass drawing) and the Grasshopper player is angry and ends up shooing them away with his bow. The drawing is rendered in red, blue, green, light green, brown, yellow, orange, and graphite pencil on peg hole animation paper. The image of the Grasshopper with his bass and bow are centered on the sheet and occupy the majority of space. This is a very rare and fine drawing, from a very fun and jazz filled Walt Disney cartoon short of the 1930's.

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

video

#WoodlandCafe #Disney #WaltDisney #animation #animationart #cel #animationcel #animationdrawing #productiondrawing #productioncel #untitledartgallery #WilfredJackson #LeighHarline #cartoon #jazz

Original Production Drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from "Ye Olden Days," 1933


Original production drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from "Ye Olden Days," 1933; Graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 61 lower right; Size - Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse: 2 3/4 x 3 1/2", Sheet 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.


"Ye Olden Days" (released April 8, 1933) is a black and white Walt Disney Company animated short film directed by Bert Gillett and animated by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Art Babbitt, and Norm Ferguson. It stars Pinto Colvig as the voice of Dippy Dawg (later renamed Goofy), Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse, and Marcellite Garner as the voice of Minnie Mouse.


Close up of the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse original production drawing.

The story of "Ye Olden Days" takes place in the middle ages. Mickey Mouse, the singing and lute playing wandering Minstrel, rides on his donkey and stumbles upon a castle. Inside the castle, the King is holding court, and Princess Minnie and Prince Dippy Dawg (later named Goofy) are about to marry. But Princess Minnie has second thoughts and ends up slapping the Prince. The King, angry over the incident, says to his Guards "Lock her in the attic!" Palace Guards lock Princess Minnie and her hand servant, Clarabelle Cow, in the attic. Minnie and Clarabelle start to cry and are overheard by Mickey, who is outside the tower window.

Mickey makes his way into the attic, through a window, and tells Minnie that he will save her. Mickey grabs Minnie and glides down a rope that was made from Clarabelle's clothing. As the pair make their way down the rope past a window, the King spots them and has them immediately arrested. The King threatens to chop Mickey's head off, but Minnie begs her father for forgiveness; because she has fallen in love with Mickey. 

The King then announces, "Clear the hall, we'll have a duel. The Prince shall battle this young fool!" Mickey and the Prince prepare themselves and their faithful steads for the duel. The duel begins between Mickey and the Prince and, when they both fall off their animals, a duel erupts between Mickey's donkey and the Prince's horse. Mickey's donkey bites the horse's bottom making him whinny and bump into a wall. A portrait of the King falls onto the horse, rendering him unconscious.  Minstrel Mickey eventually wins his duel with the Prince, who ends up falling out of a window. Then the Princess kisses her father the King, and goes off with Mickey. Both Mickey and Minnie sit atop Mickey's donkey as the crowd carries them outside. The film ends as Mickey and Minnie share a kiss, shielded behind a hand held fan.


Close up of the production number.

This is an absolutely wonderful drawing of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from the black and white animated short "Ye Olden Days," 1933. It is rare to have more than one character on a single sheet of animation paper, and this is a fantastic image. This drawing is from the end of the film, when both Mickey and Minnie are sitting on Mickey's donkey. Both characters are full figure, eyes open, and they are looking at each other and smiling. A great and rare image from one of the early Walt Disney cartoon shorts.

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Briar Rose and Prince Phillip from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959


Original production drawing of Briar Rose and Prince Phillip in graphite pencil from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959; Numbered 104 in pencil lower right; Size - Briar Rose & Prince Phillip: 3 1/2 x 4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.


"Sleeping Beauty," the 1959 Walt Disney full length motion picture, introduced two characters that would become universal favorites; Maleficent and Princess Aurora. Aurora, along with Snow White and Cinderella would be forever immortalized in the public's view as the three greatest Disney Princesses. The original design for Aurora and her peasant disguise Briar Rose was developed by Tom Oreb, who based the character on the famed Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn; known for her thin frame and a very graceful demeanor. Marc Davis, the head animator, would continue the development process by morphing her general appearance and the clothing of the heroine. The fine tuning of the character continued so that she could be combined with the very angular forms present in the Eyvind Earle hand painted backgrounds.

As with other Disney films, an actress was hired as a live-action model (as a guide for the animators) for Princess Aurora/Briar Rose. Helene Stanley, who was also the model for Cinderella in 1950, became the model for the heroine. It is interesting to note that prior to marrying Marc Davis in 1956, Alice (Davis) designed some of costumes worn by Stanley in her acting role in "Sleeping Beauty."


Close up of the Briar Rose and Prince Phillip original production drawing.

In 1952, the professional opera singer Mary Costa, after meeting people at a party with her future husband director Frank Tashlin, auditioned for the part of Disney's Princess Aurora/Briar Rose. Walt Disney called her personally within hours of the audition to inform her that the part was hers. The success of the film "Sleeping Beauty," owes a chuck of those accolades to the voice of Mary Costa. Her songs were some of the most beautiful ever sung by a Disney Princess. In November 1999 Mary Costa received the Disney Legends Award, and her handprints are now a permanent part of the Disney Legends Plaza at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios.

Prince Phillip was animated by Milt Kahl and voiced by Bill Shirley and Aurora was animated by Marc Davis (who was also lead animator for Maleficent) and voiced by Mary Costa. Both Bill and Mary would be live action models for Prince Phillip and Briar Rose/Princess Aurora for the animators, and their chemistry was magical on screen. In addition, their singing together was one of the many highlights of the film. As discussed by Andreas Deja, Milt Kahl did not like the job of animating Prince Phillip:

"Some of you might know that Milt absolutely despised working on the prince. During one of our get togethers I asked him, how he could do such a beautiful job on a character he loathes. To my best recollection he said: 'Well, the character needs to be in the picture, I didn't like the assignment, but you do the best you can.'"

The animation of Prince Phillip by Milt Kahl was radically different than prior Princes in other films. Phillip was an active character; speaking to his horse Sampson and Sampson understanding what he was saying. Phillip was also seen as a child at the start of the film, had to be animated in more than one outfit, was the first Prince to use weapons against a Villain; and had to speak, interact, and sing with his love interest Princess Aurora/Briar Rose.


Close up of the production number.

After Maleficent's evil curse that Princess Aurora would (before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday) prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die; the three Good Fairies disguise Aurora as a peasant named Briar Rose and hide her deep in a remote forest cottage The majority of the movie focuses on Briar Rose, and the sequences of her meeting Prince Phillip and singing are some of the most beautiful in the film. This is rare original production drawing of Prince Phillip and Briar Rose when they first meet in the forest and it is used during their duet performance of the song "Once Upon A Dream." It is rare to have both characters on the same sheet of animation paper, and this drawing is one of the nicest from the sequence. Both Briar Rose and Prince Phillip are full figure, eyes open, both are front facing, and are holding hands as they sing and dance through the forest. An absolutely wonderful drawing from the last hand-inked and hand-painted full length Walt Disney feature film!