Originally created 12/16/05

Exhibit celebrates 20 years of art from Pixar



NEW YORK - For once, kids might be dragging their parents to the museum instead of the other way around.

A new exhibition showcases some very recognizable images for anyone who has sat in a movie theater over the past decade - Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Nemo's dad Marlin - all creations of artists at Pixar Animation Studios.

But anyone visiting the show at the Museum of Modern Art who thinks it's going to be all about digital monitors and computer-generated images, think again. "Pixar: 20 Years of Animation" is filled with paintings, drawings, sculptures - all the traditional tools of animation.

"We wanted to make sure that people understood that computer animation wasn't created by pushing a button," said Steven Higgins, the main curator of the show. "The preparation work is done with traditional pencil and paper just like animation has always been done."

The show opened Wednesday at the museum and runs through Feb. 6. It's the largest animation show MoMA has ever done, and is the first time the material has been seen outside of Pixar's studios in Northern California. The show's run coincides with the studio's 20th anniversary in 2006.

"We want to show our audiences what we consider to be the best work being done in animation at any given moment, and right now it's Pixar," Higgins said.

The exhibit gives a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists create the worlds for their movies, as well as the characters. So there's the acrylic and gouache color script that looks at underground light and shapes for "A Bug's Life," a series of resin sculptures of the creature Sully from "Monster's Inc." and the pencil and marker drawings of Edna Mode from "The Incredibles."

"Most people assume the computer does a lot more than it does in our films," said John Lasseter, Pixar's executive vice president and creative guru. "In reality, half of it is just art."

There's also an "Artscape" installation, which takes works on paper from elsewhere in the exhibit and converts them in 3-D, as well as a nod to animation history in the form of a zoetrope. The zoetrope, a device from the 19th century, uses optical illusions to make objects look like they're moving. For the MoMA show, Pixar built a zoetrope that features the characters from "Toy Story."

All the studio's six feature films are included, as well as some art from its June 2006 release, "Cars," and material from some of its short films.

The museum will screen the feature movies and some of the short films, including the North American debut of a new short film, "One Man Band." There will also be a series of lectures. The exhibit will move to London after its run at MoMA. Additional stops are being planned.

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Museum of Modern Art: http://www.moma.org