Disney and decorative arts on display at Huntington Library

| December 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

MUSEUM CURATORS Melinda McCurdy of The Huntington and Wolf Burchard of the Museum of Modern Art in New York introduce the exhibit to the press.

“Disney is a global phenomenon that everyone can relate to,” is how exhibition curator Wolf Burchard of the Museum of Modern Art in New York started the tour of “Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts” during a press preview in December. This exhibit is a collaboration between the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Wallace Collection in London and is on display at the Huntington, 1151 Oxford Rd. in San Marino, through Mon., March 27.

The exhibit links Walt Disney’s fascination with Europe, and specifically France, with the creation of his films and theme parks.

The Huntington’s most immersive exhibit to date feels like you are walking through a film. The walls are painted in saturated colors, Disney theme songs play overhead, and actual backgrounds from Disney films are enlarged and affixed to several walls.

The three highlighted films are “Beauty and the Beast,” “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty.” The original books containing the fairy tales that inspired the movies are displayed. Disney acquired these copies of the books on one of his many trips to Europe. He was also an avid collector of miniatures, which are also on display.

Over 50 intricate pieces of decorative art and multiple paintings from the 1700s, many from the Huntington’s own collection, fill the rooms. The decorative arts include sets of china, candlesticks, and porcelain figurines. There are numerous hand-drawn animation cells and several film clips from the Walt Disney Archives. It’s clear that the films were initially inspired by art, created on paper and then transferred to the screen.

VISITORS CAN CLEARLY SEE the intricacies of the French tower potpourri vases from the mid-1700s that are reunited for the first time during this exhibit, according to Huntington curator Melinda McCurdy (left). Photos by Nona Sue Friedman

The centerpiece of Disney artifacts is the first large-scale bird’s-eye view of Disneyland. Created to raise money from New York bankers, the drawing was completed over a single weekend in the fall of 1953 by artist Herb Ryman, with Walt Disney hovering nearby. This image is not far from what was eventually constructed.

Another bit of trivia is that the audio introduction for this exhibit is the last body of work performed by Dame Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast.” Being a total professional, she did it perfectly in one take.

This is a wonderful exhibit that’s enjoyable for the whole family. Reservations are required for weekend visits. Tickets are available at huntington.org

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Category: Entertainment

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