by Paul Felix

Uncover the Magic at Disney: Magic of Animation

At the ArtScience Museum until 29 March 2020

Uncover the magic behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ most beloved animated movies at Disney: Magic of Animation at the ArtSceince Museum.

The exhibition offers visitors the rare opportunity to experience over 90 magical years of Disney animation, including the debut of original artworks from the upcoming Frozen 2!

From Steamboat Willie (1928), the first Disney cartoon with a synchronised soundtrack, classic films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and The Lion King (1994), to blockbusters such as Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016) and Moana (2016), the exhibition pays homage to the artistry and technological innovation that have brought Disney’s world renowned characters to life.

Shown in Southeast Asia for the first time, this landmark exhibition features over 500 exceptional art pieces, including original drawings, paintings, sketches and concept art curated by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. In keeping with ArtScience Museum’s ethos of presenting captivating interactive exhibitions, the show also includes projections, audio-visual displays, alluring exhibits that transport visitors into the world of Disney’s films, and hands-on educational activities.

Presented in five chapters, the exhibition begins with Creating Believable Characters: Bringing Drawings to Life which reveals how early Disney animators pioneered new animation techniques. Visitors will see how the characters we have grown to love start as two dimensional illustrations, and learn the ways that animators used innovative techniques to portray movements naturally.

This section features original story sketches and animation drawings from some of the earliest Disney films. This gallery also includes a physical recreation of the iconic steamboat from Steamboat Willie (1928), the first Disney cartoon to have sound synchronised with the animation on screen.

Bold technological innovations allowed Disney animators in the 1930s to explore and apply new artistic principles to capture nuances of people and animals’ movements and idiosyncrasies more accurately. Following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the world’s first fully animated film produced in Technicolor, artists from Disney Studios’ began developing a number of remarkable films including Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942).

The second gallery, The Magic Begins: Continual Research and Development tells this story, through a series of concept artworks, sketches, the display of the revolutionary technological tool, developed at Disney Animation, and the multiplane camera.

The third gallery, Producers of Magic: Creating Diversity in Expression and a Wider World celebrates the talented Disney animators who produced films that expressed a bold and brilliant variety of artistic styles.

Background paintings and concept art from films including Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) showcase the talents of artists who created diverse visual worlds. This chapter also charts the scientific advances that Disney have become known for, highlighting some of the new production technologies developed by the studio, enabled by advances in global communications in the 1940s to 1950s.

The digital revolution in the 1990s provided an additional source of inspiration for Disney artists who are constantly looking out for novel ways of making film. With the advancement of computer graphics technologies, coupled with the involvement of leading Broadway songwriters, Disney’s films began to move beyond the world of animation to explore new musical possibilities, evoking powerful emotions among its audience.

Towards New Dimensions: Digital Advances, Musical Seas, the fourth exhibition chapter showcases artworks from the striking films of this era, including The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998) and Tarzan (1999) and their memorable soundtracks.

As Disney’s animated films shift from pencil and paper to computer graphics, and as the world continues to evolve, Disney films continue to incorporate the contemporary ideologies weaving them into the narrative of the stories. This gallery includes recent animated titles, such as Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6 (2014) and Moana (2016).

The fifth and final section of the exhibition, Bringing People Together: Social Diversity, Messages for Our Global Future conveys impactful messages that build on social values, such as the importance of family bonds, cultural diversity and respect for nature.

Disney: Magic of Animation will run till 29 March 2020 at the ArtScience Museum just by Marina Bay Sands, with tickets at $14 for children, students, and senior citizens, and $19 for adults. Family packages are also available and Singapore Citizens/PRs are entitled to a discounted price.

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