That Pixar kid did good.
There are an estimated four hundred people from Pixar who made the trip to New York to be part of this night. The 22 degree weather, holiday shopping season foot and car traffic didn't slow any of them down from converging at the Moma on West 53rd in their heavy coats and scarves. This is the culmination of months of preparation from all parties involved from either coast in mounting the exhibit and the celebration of two decades of steady, nose to the the grindstone work by artisans from a little company that could from San Francisco.
Pixar's resident "shy guy" spoke at the premiere of Pixar's latest animated short screening to start things off. As creative founding father, John Lasseter speaks in the very voice that Pixar has come to stand for for all audiences: The man is one of us. "As I stood here tonight I realize that, man, we're at the Moma! Along with all these great artists of our modern age...We better hurry before they realize they made a big mistake." That personal check of reality and ability to have fun with it anyway is just the way Pixar culture is. It seems to say that we don't know how this is done but we can have a great time anyway. And for a company that hadn't done animated features when it started it has become the only company who seem to have inherited the magic of making them from now on.
Walking the exhibit halls of giant canvasses of Jasper Johns and the like, Pixar's exhibit is a clear shift in tone and intent. Done mostly on paper the pieces are all the hand made work that nobody sees in person. Chalk, charcoal, watercolor, pen and pencil. Even the digital illustrations are about the creator's hand doing the heavy lifting. And where most galleries would require the contemplative mein when you face the artwork, here people break into wide open smiles and pointing--the charm of the animation artist's character's at work.People huddle close around the zoetrope. Inspired by the Studio Ghibli zoetrope in its ode to hand drawn animation museum in Mitaka.
The piece de resistance is on the upper floor in a dark room. There will be two offerings there to inspire awe but the little marvel is a in half round glass case. The lights will go up to reveal the cast of Toy Story in multiples of themselves. In-betweens. But they are little sculptures, figurines in acting poses! From Woody and Buzz to the green aliens, the plastic army men and even Wheezy the toy penguin. All frozen in place, arrayed in merry-go-round fashion. The turn table spins to blurr them into ghosts then...the strobe lights hit. Voila! They come alive and move right before your very eyes. Woody rides Bullseye as it prances around rodeo style, Buzz stands tall on a ball and bounces as the army men perpetually parachutes from their plastic tub. You can stare at this for hours but the lights go down on this show as the ones behind you go up to set your sights on the wide wall. Soon that very wall becomes a screen and you are treated to wondrous fly through of the world of preproduction art, literally through the pastel layers and conte crayon sketches. An after effects wonder created by Andy Jimenez and sound design by Gary Rydstrom. Mezmerizing, confirming once again how the artist's hand at work in actual media begins the magic.Turn around quick! Soaring through artwork in the Artscape presentation. Makes you wanna draw, is all I'm saying. That shaggy sillo second from the right is of world famous Andrew Stanton, just in case you were wonderin'.
You may notice that there is a severe shortage of photos from inside the museum itself. I took pictures but the whole point is to see it for yourself. And there's no sense in diluting that impact. The exhibit will start today, December 14 and will last till February 6 next year. You got time. I'm going back sometime this week to see it with a regular audience so I can people watch.
Next post...The Party after.
_____Pixar at the Moma