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STATE OF THE ANIMATION ART MARKET
© 2003 Ron Barbagallo, written March 5th, 2003
Where we are now, how we got there -
To start with, the animation art market couldn’t be in a better place.
Yes, that’s right - I said better place.
After a decade or two of unprecedented growth, collectors of animation art grew tired. Repetitious releases of limited editions, overpricing and over production by the art programs created a downturn in the collectors’ enthusiasm, as well as reduced sales. As a result, many jobs were lost and many departments folded, but the animation art market, like the stock market itself, was overdue for a correction.
On the plus side, animation art enters the new millennium a more widely accepted art form, which was not the case twenty years ago. Like photography before it, art work from the animated film has entered a collecting phase where better pieces from venerated films and TV shows have found their way out of obscurity and into various collections.
These collections are now cared for with greater concern as the dollar value of a piece of animation art today is much more than it was three decades ago. That fact is not lost on current producers of television animation as the selling of production art is now a potential revenue source should a show go on to become a phenomenon.
Another thing that has affected the current slowdown in collecting is that the animation art industry, much like its related cousin, animation licensing, is fueled by the expectation created from a string of truly enjoyable animated features and/or TV shows. The current calm in the marketplace will rise again when someone sparks interest in the collectors’ enthusiasm.
That enthusiasm can be generated either by a string of successful films (as it was in 1937 - 1942 with the release of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on through the release of Disney’s Bambi and again in 1988 - 1994 with the release of Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on through Disney’s The Lion King) or can be generated by a smart and never passive wholesale program -- a program that carefully nurtures - with foresight - the collectors’ enthusiasm from one smart release to another.
A good wholesale program must always remember that the collectors do not see their purchases as a commodity, nor are they concerned with anyone's quarterly profits. Keeping the quality up and the prices within reach are just as important to your longevity within the animation art market as making sure that your next release sparks the collector's interest with its fresh ingenuity.
If you master that, your wholesale program will flourish in any economy.
... and where we are going -
At a time when the industry is primed for reinvention and reinterpretation, I wanted to point out four women who are the most able to steer the animation art market into new, exciting places.
To start with, there is...
Ruth Clampett, daughter of Warner Bros. director Bob Clampett.
Ruth Clampett is the owner and founder of the “Clampett Studio Collections,” which is the current home of the Warner Bros. Gallery Program. Created after the closing of the Warner Bros. Studio Stores, “Clampett Studio Collections” continues to offer WB’s animation art including such notable properties as Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera, DC Comics (which includes Superman and Batman) and Harry Potter.
This is not Ruth’s first journey into the realm of marketing animation art. In the mid 1980’s, she was the Creative Director of the Bob Clampett Animation Foundation, which produced limited edition WB’s and Beany & Cecil animation art taken from Bob Clampett’s original drawings. At the end of 1992, Warner Bros. decided to develop their own gallery division and hired Ruth on as Creative Design Manager. Shortly thereafter, she was promoted to Vice President of Design for all WB’s store product.
As someone who has successfully run several art programs, Ruth Clampett has a great understanding of the art of Warner Bros. animation, but more importantly, she understands and respects the animation art collector.
Throughout her career, Ruth Clampett has been known for innovating ideas within design for animation art. She started many design trends that have become staples within the animation art marketplace. Her willingness to be adventurous within the design of art work generated from the animated film has made her as inventive within her industry as her father’s directorial efforts were within the arena of direction for the animated film.
Her office for the Clampett Studio Collections is located in Hollywood in the building in which Ruth’s parents produced Beany and Cecil in during the late 50’s early 60’s.
To check out some current examples of artwork available from the Clampett Studio art program check out their web site at:
Art and images are owned by © Walt Disney Company/Disney Enterprises, or © Warner Bros., or Linda Jones, Enterprises, or Clampett Studio, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
These articles are owned by © Ron Barbagallo.
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ARTICLES ON AESTHETICS IN ANIMATION
BY RON BARBAGALLO:
The Art of Making Pixar's Ratatouille is revealed by way of an introductory article followed by interviews with production designer Harley Jessup, director of photography/lighting Sharon Calahan and the film's writer/director Brad Bird.
Design with a Purpose, an interview with Ralph Eggleston uses production art from Wall-E to illustrate the production design of Pixar's cautionary tale of a robot on a futuristic Earth.
Shedding Light on the Little Matchgirl traces the path director Roger Allers and the Disney Studio took in adapting the Hans Christian Andersen story to animation.
The Destiny of Dalí's Destino, in 1946, Walt Disney invited Salvador Dalí to create an animated short based upon his surrealist art. This writing illustrates how this short got started and tells the story of the film's aesthetic.
A Blade Of Grass is a tour through the aesthetics of 2D background painting at the Disney Studio from 1928 through 1942.
Lorenzo, director / production designer Mike Gabriel created a visual tour de force in this Academy Award® nominated Disney short. This article chronicles how the short was made and includes an interview with Mike Gabriel.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, an interview with Graham G. Maiden's narrates the process involved with taking Tim Burton's concept art and translating Tim's sketches and paintings into fully articulated stop motion puppets.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, in an interview exclusive to this web site, Nick Park speaks about his influences, on how he uses drawing to tell a story and tells us what it was like to bring Wallace and Gromit to the big screen.
For a complete list of PUBLISHED WORK AND WRITINGS by Ron Barbagallo,
click on the link above and scroll down.
BOB CLAMPETT, photograph by Sid Avery at the door where Beany and Cecil were born.
"BUGS BUNNY LOBBY CARD"
edition size: 100, 16 field
hand-painted cel with giclee background.
THE NEW JLA, giclee on paper: edition size: 250, dimensions 26" by 19" giclee on canvas edition size: 100, dimensions 24" by 35" signed by Alex Ross and Bruce Timm.
RELP! IT'S THE GREEN GHOST,
edition size: 1,000, 12 field sericel with giclee background.
Laura Kessler, Director of Product Development for Animation Art, Animated Animations.
Laura Kessler is the Director of Product Development for Animation Art for “Animated Animations,” the exclusive global publisher of the Walt Disney Animation Art Cel Portfolio. “Animated Animations" has the distinction of being the only other worldwide distributor of 2D Walt Disney animation art since Walt and Roy O. Disney first handed that unique opportunity over to Guthrie Sayles Courvoisier and The Courvoisier Gallery of San Francisco back in July 1938.
With more than 13 years in the industry, Kessler began her career in animation art back in 1989, when she was brought on board to manage all facets of Hanna-Barbera’s Studio's cel art business. Leaving HB in 1991, Kessler went to Fox, Inc., where for the next six years she managed their animation art program, which featured the successful sale of limited edition and production art from TV’s hit show The Simpsons.
In 1997 Laura Kessler went over to the Walt Disney Company, where, as Senior Manager for Product Development, she oversaw product development and created product concepts of all 2D art publishing for Walt Disney Animation Art. In 1999, her design for Tea Time With Mary won Collectors’ Showcase Magazine’s distinguished “Collectors Choice Award” for Best Animation Art.
Laura Kessler has a wonderful knack for detail. She has a reputation for keeping her characters on model, but, more than that, Kessler has an intrinsic understanding of the moments which connect most deeply with the Disney collector. Four years into her career at Disney, the Disney Company closed her department and out-sourced the making of their 2D line of animation art. In a heated race that included many contenders, Animated Animations was selected as the company most suited to continue the Disney 2D legacy. In 2001 Kessler joined Animated Animations, where she continues to excite collectors of Walt Disney Animation Art with her insight and good taste.
To check out some current examples of artwork available from Animated Animations, the global distributor of the Walt Disney Animation Cel Portfolio please check out their web site at:
THE GREAT STORYTELLER, limited edition sericel: edition size 2500, dimensions 16 1/4" by 13 1/4" Created to commemorate the centennial of Walt's birth.
I DO, hand painted limited edition cel, edition size 300, from Mickey's Nightmare 1932, image size 11 1/2" by 15 1/4"
MANO A MONO, hand painted premiere edition cel, dimensions, edition size 50, dimensions 10" by 16 1/4". Image taken from Walt Disney's 41st animated feature film Lilo & Stitch.
DREAMS COME TRUE , hand painted limited edition scene collection cel, edition size 180, dimensions 9" by 11" Disney artists have taken 45 of the one of a kind production drawings used to create this sequence from Walt Disney's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and created each on a limited edition cel only four times.
Merrie Lasky is probably the greatest asset to the animation art industry that has yet to be tapped.
Merrie Lasky was there in June of 1973 when the modern era of the Walt Disney Art Program was launched. With long range vision, Disney VP of Publications, Vince Jefferds, created a department that took animation art out of the Disney theme parks and repriced and repositioned it from inexpensive collectible to high end fine art object.
To aid him, Jefferds selected a small group of people and Merrie Lasky was one of them. Their efforts took a handful of people who sold art moderately priced art to a few wholesale galleries and grew it into a department of almost 100 employees that sold Disney art priced well into the several thousands to worldwide venue by the mid 90’s.
During her 20 year run at Disney, Merrie Lasky was responsible for preparing Disney production and limited edition art for sale. This included something innovating at the time which wasn’t always done in the earlier Disney art programs: Lasky went to great efforts to make sure that the cels sold to collectors were “key” to each other (from the same exact sequence) and, in cases where the cels came with a background, having a background that was “key” to the cels. Her attention to putting together cel setups that collectors wanted quickly generated a reputation for her as someone with whom the wholesale gallery owners uniformly wanted to work.
In the mid 1990’s she left Disney to join Warner Bros. Worldwide Retail preparing animation art and certificates for sale through the Warner Bros. Studio Store Galleries as well as through independently owned galleries worldwide. At this time animation art had become a global phenomena and Merrie was there to make sure the finest production art Warner Bros. had to offer was properly prepared for sale.
Any serious art program looking for someone with built in savvy into animation art marketing, its gallery owners, and the heart of collectors should eagerly seek Merrie Lasky for her effective knowledge of the world of animation art.
She can be reached at her email address which is: email@example.com
Linda Jones Clough is the President and CEO of Linda Jones Enterprises and daughter of WB director Chuck Jones.
Linda Jones Clough is one of the most influential people in the animation art market and has been for decades. She pioneered many facets of the animation art market that are now commonplace, like the signing of limited edition animation art. She was the first person to obtain a license to make and sell limited edition cels based on Chuck’s drawings of the Warner Bros. characters. She also was the first person to publish artwork of Warner characters by both Friz Freleng and Bob McKinson. Ever the pioneer, Linda Jones Clough was also one of the first people in the animation art market to use giclee prints in an animation art program. She created the “one of one” limited edition cel, where one hand inked limited edition cel is recreated from an original animation production drawing.
To a greater end, Linda Jones Clough is also the person most responsible for educating the public about the individual contribution of the artist working in animation. While other wholesale animation art programs marketed the characters they licensed or the sentimentality of the vintage films, Linda Jones widened peoples perceptions and showed collectors of animation art the craft and ingenuity that was her father - director Charles M. Jones. In limited edition after limited edition, she used Chuck’s wit, life observations and unique point of view as a springboard to show the public that her father was more than a director of animated films, but that he was, in fact, an artist in the fullest sense of the word.
Linda’s accomplishments are not limited to the smart marketing of art from the animated film. From 1993 - 1997, she acted as the president and producer for Chuck Jones Film Productions, where, working closely with her father, she produced six shorts for Warner Bros. In addition to the WB projects, Linda Jones won an Emmy Award in 1996 for a made for television version of Peter And The Wolf, which aired in December of 1995.
Thanks to the efforts of Linda Jones Clough, the art work of Chuck Jones lives on today. A sampling of Chuck Jones’ many inspirations can be viewed and purchased at any of Linda Jones Enterprises’ three galleries, which are located one in each of these three cities: Laguna Beach, California, San Diego, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
To view current examples of art from the animated films of Chuck Jones, Chuck Jones’ personal artwork and more art available from Linda Jones Enterprises please check out their web site at:
Surviving in the Animation Art Market
© 2001 Ron Barbagallo
published December 2001, page 9, written November 12th, 2001
Hold on -- there is no need for panic: animation art is fine.
Like photography before it, it has gone through a phase where better pieces from significant, veteran films and TV shows have found their way out of obscurity and into collections. The current calm in the marketplace came from years of repetitive over-production and over-pricing. Those two things alienated and betrayed the most important aspect of collecting - nurturing the collectors’ enthusiasm.
Also, the animation art industry, like its related cousin, licensing, is firmly connected to and fueled by the expectation created from a string of truly enjoyable new animated features. Some TV shows, like The Simpsons, and even the growing presence that a new network can have, like what "Cartoon Network" is building today and what Nickelodeon's Nicktoons had five years ago, can spark an audience's willingness to watch and collect by simply innovating in an otherwise predictable marketplace.
A win-win situation for animation and its related art objects would be to have executives who have enough taste to select capable artists, who, in turn, create with an understanding of their audience and a devotion to their craft. In the long term, this formula will be much more successful than trying to copy last year's "big thing."
Successful artists create with insight, not from insecurity. John Lasseter could be drawing with chalk; his ability to create characters we care about has nothing to do with computers. Likewise the maquettes that Kent Melton creates for the Walt Disney Classics Collection reflect Melton's ability to enliven any of the characters he sculpts. It is not about trying to copy anything; it's about excelling at one's craft.
Time and time again, I have seen that people will buy quality. I have also seen that people will loose enthusiasm when they feel that their passions have been treated disrespectfully. So, I would ask - if innovation is what tickles, why not innovate? It should be your mission statement everyday to ask - What am I going to do today to make the animation enthusiast / art collector happy? If you master that, then you won't have to worry about surviving in any economy.
Viewpoint, Animation Art Collecting, A Century In Review
© 2000 Ron Barbagallo
published February 2000, page 104, written January 4th, 2000
A renewed appetite for animation continues, as we closed the 20th century. Sparked by a wave of successful animated features, from Disney, Fox's The Simpsons and John Kricfalusi's Ren and Stimpy, these new features and series proved that animation could be smart, timely, and have a lasting impact. Their profitability gave birth to an onslaught of new features and television shows, as everyone jumped on the cartoon bandwagon.
Ignited by this, vintage animation art sprang out of the attic and into the auction houses, where they fetched unforeseen thousands. Studios took notice and discovered a new type of mass merchandising - the "limited edition" animation art replica.
These movements have insured that animation art will continue to have a more dignified place as we enter the 21st century - whether that be in private collections, museums or Hollywood studios. More specialized care will be taken at all levels, since the studios now recognize the value in preserving their art, not only for its potential resale, but also as inspiration for their future films, mass merchandising, and licensing.
Like another under-appreciated art form before it - photography -- animation art from the classic days will increasingly be displayed at museums as the public learns to have an evolving respect for its animated heritage.
The World Wide Web brings the continents together and shows that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Gallery owners and private collectors use the web as both yellow pages and auctioneer to move animation art out of their inventories and into the hands of an appreciative collector, proving that "the internet is once again your friend.”
Animation Art, The Year In Review
© 1999 Ron Barbagallo
published November/December 1999, page 13, written September 8th, 1999
One of the nicest things about animation art in 1999, was seeing one of the Studio art programs publish reasonably priced, - hand painted - limited edition animation art.
While others offered familiar limited editions - priced upward towards $11,000.00 -- Warner Bros. Animation Art provided their collectors with two series of limited edition hand painted cels with reproduction backgrounds. "Warner Bros. Classic" series, priced at $200.00, and their "Director Series," priced at $250.00, compete directly with machine-made Sericels and Giclee prints for the customer who can't afford or locate vintage art. Both series provide the collector with entry-level purchases, which keep WB's characters on model and in scenes that are faithful to their directors' visions. Smaller in physical size than previous published WB limiteds, these hand painted pieces and their affordable pricing is reminiscent of the limiteds of the 1970's, which first allowed the animation art market to blossom.
Production art from Walt Disney Feature Animation is no stranger to the auction house circuit. Since 1989, Sotheby's in Manhattan has offered the public production cels, backgrounds, and maquettes shortly after a new Disney feature is released. This year, the artwork from Disney's 36th feature Mulan boasted striking production background paintings that at times came with matching production overlays depicting stationary objects. These background paintings with prop overlays come with Disney Studio replica cels duplicating the digital colorings of the animator's character drawings. As nice as these replica character cels are, it is the rare master production background paintings from a full length Disney feature that have the more significant value, artistically and historically, as these paintings were actually used in the film making process.
Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble collaborated this year on a limited edition released by Linda Jones Enterprises, Inc. "Misguided Muscle" celebrates the 50th anniversary of two of Chuck Jones' most beloved creations - the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Chuck's direct involvement with limited edition animation art goes back more than two decades, as he has recreated and drawn many of the "Looney Tunes" characters he originated for Warner Bros. Unlike a lot of artwork created for limited edition animation, "Misguided Muscle" was drawn by the director and the background artist from the original series, making this limited edition truly authentic.
40 years ago, Charles Schulz handpicked Bill Melendez, a veteran of Disney, Warner Bros. and UPA, to breathe life into his comic strip Peanuts. Melendez transformed Schulz's comic strip into landmark animation for television, garnering numerous Emmy Awards. His work on It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas set the standard for successful animation for the holidays. Original production cels with reproduction backgrounds are available from many of the Peanuts television specials and feature films. These actual production pieces are from a time when animated specials for television were newly developing and freshly original.
For years, collectors of Disney animation art have craved more specialized, less obvious limited editions than that of another Bambi forest scene or Belle Notte setup. This year they got it. Paying homage to their 1964 feature Mary Poppins, Disney Art Classics released "Tea Time With Mary." This limited edition is priced alongside similar Disney limiteds, but offers a scene from a movie never before translated into limited edition cel art. Even if edition sizes and pricing were reduced to accommodate the specialized appeal of a particular film, it would be exciting to see future limited editions depict imagery of the Headless Horseman from The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad, or Willie the Whale from The Whale That Wanted to Sing at The Met sequence of Make Mine Music, or The Rite of Spring sequence from Fantasia.
Viewpoint, Animation Art Collecting, The Year In Review
© 1997 Ron Barbagallo
published January 1998, page 66, written November 20th, 1997
A change in perspective could be seen in the animation art marketplace in 1997, as the artists creating animation started to become as marketable as the motion picture icons they worked so hard to develop. Gifted talents whose work formed the heart and soul of many of our animated classics were unveiled to the general public in a handsome hardcover entitled "Before the Animation Begins," written by noted animation art historian John Canemaker. Artwork from the talented hands of Gustaf Tenggren, Shamus Culhane, and Les Clark were spotlighted for sale by Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses.
Linda Jones Clough, CEO of Linda Jones Enterprises, enters her 20th consecutive year promoting animation director and artist Chuck Jones, who was granted a lifetime contract with Warner Bros. In 1997, Linda Jones Enterprises produced new collaborations by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble and released original production animation drawings done for How the Grinch Stole Christmas by animators Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan and Don Towsley, to name a few.
Disney Art Classics rediscovered their past this year as they released a suite of limited editions based on the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs production artwork, as distributed by animation art pioneer and San Francisco art dealer Guthrie Sayle Courvoisier. These smartly priced replicas were based on the designs of Disney Inker and Painter Helen Nerbovig, who headed the first department dedicated to the preparation of animation art back in 1938. Current sculptor Kent Melton continues to imbue movement into the figures he creates for the Disney Art Classics' 3 dimensional line. His maquettes capture the very essence of animation and are amongst the finest examples of the genre.
As we close the year, UPA Animation Art readies to reacquaint the public with the accomplishments of the artists who worked at UPA. Formed in the wake of the 1941 union strike at Disney, UPA went on to redefine the established look of animation. Through the creative innovations of Jules Engel, John Hubley, Bobe Cannon, and their colleagues, color, design and story were liberated from the restraints of traditional realism and European fairy tales. The revolution started by UPA paved the way for the graphic triumphs later seen on Peanuts and set the precedent for change in the animation industry the same way The Simpsons and South Park do today. UPA animation art will have a similar impact as it emphasizes the artist in animation and their unique accomplishments from that of character merchandising.
Collecting Animation Art, unlimited draw of limited edition cel art
© 1997 Ron Barbagallo
published March 24th, 1997, page 40, written March 10th, 1997
A resurgence in the interest in cartoon characters can be seen everywhere on items as varied as coffee mugs, jewelry, backpacks and limited edition art. This baby boom in the animation art market was started 25 year ago by a small group of pioneers who promoted animation art to an audience of enthusiasts. Like most movements in the art world, it began rather small and has evolved today into a modern day renaissance of character licensing and merchandising.
In the summer of 1973, art collector and then VP of Disney's Character Merchandising division Vince Jefferds approached Bernard Dannenberg, a Madison Avenue proprietor of fine art remembered for his promotion of Norman Rockwell, to exhibit and sell animation cels from Walt Disney's 1973 feature film Robin Hood. Released to coincide and promote Robin Hood's November 1973 premiere, Wayne Morris, formerly of Disney Character Merchandising, remembers "The pieces sold were offered at $75.00 a piece, which was a huge leap because prior to that they've been sold in the Disneyland Emporium for 3 bucks a piece.”
Shortly afterwards Jefferds enlisted Jack Solomon, Chairman and CEO of Circle Fine Art Corporation to include a permanent section for animation along side the fine art displayed in his galleries. Unconventional for its day, Circle galleries located in major cities gave Disney animation art a steady presence in the fine art arena. Circle's involvement grew to include other prominent names from the animation industry and generated millions of dollars in retail sales.
In 1975, independent of the developments at Circle Fine Art, Edith and Burt Rudman began selling a collection of vintage animation art acquired from a friend and ,shortly thereafter, founded Gallery Lainzberg in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Across America's heartland, the Rudmans guided animation art via car caravans to college campuses and into the hands of the collector. "From the beginning, there was intense interest... people loved the artwork," says Burt Rudman. Repeated success from these university sales and publicity generated from a Playboy article about their company led the Rudman's off the road and into the first large scale catalog and mail order business exclusively selling animation art.
A popular part of the Rudman's 1977 catalog included production cels from Chuck Jones Enterprises' television specials. Further interest led Chuck to design two of the first signed limited editions depicting the Looney Tunes. One called "The Duck Dodgers Group" sold through a NY comics shop and another recreated a Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog cover featuring the Road Runner and Coyote. "Then I started the process to get a licensing contract to sell cels based on Chuck's drawings of the Warner Bros. characters" says Chuck's daughter Linda Jones Clough, CEO of Linda Jones Enterprises. Chuck Jones' reinterpretations of Warner cartoons and their subsequent success encouraged Linda to expand her business, which later included the first publication of Warner characters by both Friz Freleng and Bob McKinson.
The demand for animation art by the late 1970's gave birth to a growing market for production cels, as well as limited editions based on production art no longer available from the LA studios. An increase in the popularity of animation art was well evidenced on December 8th, 1984, when Christie's East in Manhattan held the first complete auction dedicated solely to the sale of animation art from former Disney employee John Basmajian. Record prices for this auction brought wide media coverage, forgotten treasures out to auction and an increasing number of independent galleries.
A string of classic animation newly released on video, books, and first rate feature films contributed to fuel America's infatuation. Building momentum reached a high point on June 28th, 1989, when new collectors entered the market and paid substantial prices for art from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? at Sotheby's in New York. "A lot of things were tripling and doubling the estimates," recalls Dana Hawkes, Director Sotheby's Collectibles Department. This auction received much publicity and started a new market at auction for contemporary animation art.
The impact of Roger Rabbit's popularity stimulated growth in all aspects of the animation art business. Successful films followed, notably Howard Ashman's 3 works for Disney, and animation art and its related merchandising flourished. "It is the relationship the collector has with the film..." Howard Lowery, owner of Howard Lowery Gallery in Burbank, California states. "The success of the film dictates the demand for the artwork." Character licensing based on the strength of these films sold wildly and peaked in a sense with Disney's 1994 hugely successful The Lion King.
America's affection for cartoons launched animation art from a cottage industry into the world of studio stores, offering a wider variety of collectibles and products based on cartoon licensing along side the artwork. Today it is a worldwide market where retail stores, collector clubs, and galleries specializing in the secondary market all vie for the collector dollar.
When asked about its future, architects from its past and present had this to contribute:
David Barenholtz, Assistant VP/General Manager, Hanna-Barbera Animation Art 1995 - 1996, offered this perspective. "Of all the entertainment fields, animation was the first to take off. But what you have seen recently is a huge increase in the popularity of sports memorabilia followed by a huge increase in the popularity of movie and rock and roll memorabilia. They're all collecting this type of Americana, this sort of entertainment related memorabilia and animation is going to fit into a segment of that.”
“It is a more competitive time" said Ruth Clampett, Director Creative Design Warner Bros. Studio Stores, "but it is also a more exciting time. I think that collectors are more educated than they have ever been. So, you always have to be in tune with who your collectors are and very respectful of their passion and their knowledge for these characters and the cartoons.”
“I do feel very enthusiastic about the animation art market," says Linda Jones Clough, CEO of Linda Jones Enterprises. "We will either go to the responsible and bright future for animation art if the studio executives are responsible with their licenses or we may go into the world of flooding the market and devaluing the art. I believe that people who love animation love to have a piece of it in their home.”
“Although Walt Disney Art Classics is the leader in the field of animation art, we can only remain so if we continue to provide attractive price points, a diversity of images and an innovation in presentation. I strongly believe that we have just tapped the surface of the animation art market to its fullest potential." stated Tom Park, VP/General Manager, Walt Disney Art Classics.
Viewpoint, Animation Art Collecting, The Year In Review
© 1996 Ron Barbagallo
published December 1996, page A58, written November 6th, 1996
Animation as big business became even more apparent in 1996, as corporate mergers united television and cable networks with animation studios, their consumer product divisions, and retail stores. Animation studios with distinct personalities and separate market venues now work in tandem under one umbrella. One recent offspring of these marriages can be seen at the Warner Bros. mall stores, where you can purchase a Tex Avery limited edition based on his short subject Swing Shift Cinderella, a cartoon originally produced for MGM in 1945 and most recently a property held by Turner Entertainment Co. This limited edition animation cel and background was recreated exclusively for the Warner Stores by the Animation Art department of Hanna-Barbera, Inc.
Auction prices for the more desirable and exclusive pieces of animation art steadily ratcheted their way into the tens of thousands this year. An expanding market in Japan and Europe became more evident as a Japanese tycoon and a real life royal princess placed their bids along side American film executives and the home collector to possess the art of Walt Disney's Indian princess Pocahontas.
A record number of new animated television series hit the airwaves in 1996. New and existing companies, inspired by the revenues generated by Walt Disney's The Lion King and its related merchandising, took out full page ads in the trades to herald the upcoming animated motion pictures they currently have in production. The first one up at bat unites Michael Jordan with Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes characters in a collaboration which offers opportunities for both to launch feature film careers. New opportunities are also on the horizon for the artists and the artwork generated for these films as these matinée mainstays and their creators become more and more a part of the accepted culture.
Viewpoint, Animation Art Collecting
© 1996 Ron Barbagallo
published January 1996, page 115, written November 15th, 1996
Ten years ago, animation cels were little more than a by-product of the animation process. A keepsake which remained after its intermediate use in production, cel art developed into a collectible for fans of cartoons. During the Reagan years, cels gained the attention of the "baby boomer generation," now old enough to start collecting the artwork they admired from their childhood in the 1950's, with the dollars they were earning in the 1980's. With the exception of a short-term exhibit of Disney Animation Art at the Whitney Museum in 1981, cel art was not widely displayed in museums and was considered by most art authorities as an interesting but odd piece of film memorabilia. By the late 1980's, animation cels generated bold prices at Christie's East and Sotheby's, announcing this was indeed an art form obtaining public acceptance.
There was a time when talks on animation art were not included in seminars held before the museum community. This year, I presented one at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. While cels have progressed a long way from production piece to centerpiece in your living room, they are still excluded from permanent display in most of our major museums. When speaking with art authorities, I am told this is because animation cels are seen as a collectible and not serious art. Another opinion is that animation art is perceived as children's art and is too commercial.
It puzzles me that criticisms like these can be levied at an art form which has given so much pleasure to so many. From where does the stigma derive?
The truth is it comes from many sources.
From the beginning animators and studio heads regarded cel art solely as a means to translate pencil drawings into color. Cels were not executed by artisans who possessed the same level of talent as animators. Luckily this early industry bias did not prevent them from being marketed or saved.
Another factor - although one not as obvious -- is where, when, and how the general public views animation. Not hung nor spotlighted on hallowed hallways, animation art is seen at the movies or, even worse, for free at home on your television. Starting out in childhood, we watch these films in the most informal of settings. Perhaps the environment we originally view animation in has tainted our perception of its worth.
Additionally at issue is that many forms of American art have only recently found a home in most of our major museums. Film art is still relegated to brief exhibits or specialty museums. Historically, it has taken wide public recognition to lead the way before a curator or museum director flirts with including art forms that are new and unfamiliar to them.
However, what is overlooked here in this battle between the traditional and familiar, is what the art form of animation brings to the museum world -- the unique skill of the artist. In this case, an animator, who has the ability to perceive and then render a figure or object in sequential order and imbue in that pencil drawing a spirited quality of movement. The movements of these lines exist only between the sheets of paper and are no different in concept to the lines of perspective on the canvases of Robert Mangold. Preston Blair's interpretation of women are no less evocative than Peter Paul Rubens'. Mary Blair's use of color and design to fill a two-dimensional space is no less sophisticated than Henri Matisse's. The colors used to give classic Disney cels their rich tones are no less specific as those used by Piet Mondrian. Finally, the paintings Ty Wong created for Bambi are no less atmospheric or passionate than any oil by Turner.
Artists working in animation apply their craft no differently than the artists who worked during the Renaissance, a time when artistic expression often took the form of the religious narrative. Art historians today look back at this period less for its narrative contributions and more for the manner in which the artist interpreted the subject. The same parallel can be drawn when considering animation. Art critics, concerned with the matter of shameless exploitation, should examine the works produced by the studios of Andy Warhol or Mark Kostabi before snubbing the studios of Walt Disney, Warner Brothers or Hanna-Barbera.
Noah Webster, in the book that bears his name, defines art as "human creativity, a making of things that have form or beauty, a craft or its principles." Incorporated behind the endearing smiles of dwarfs and forest animals, you will find these attributes. They are there between the shades of color, the design in the frame and the movement the lines and forms take within that frame. This is the unique form of expression called animation art.
The relevance of animation art may be clouded by our perspective as grownups, but, it is we, as adults, who should be capable of looking past such labels as "commercial art" made for "children" to see the artistry therein. This year's exhibit of Disney animation art at New York's Museum of Modern Art has set the pace for just that. I look forward to a time, possibly in the coming decade, when animation, this most American of art forms, is taken seriously as an art form and permanently exhibited in our nation's most prestigious museums.
"CHUCK JONES SELF PORTRAIT" original limited edition giclee on canvas, edition size 250, dimensions 22.5" x 19", signed in the plate. Created from an original oil painting on cardboard by Chuck Jones.
"BUGS BUNNY AT THE PIANO" original limited edition giclee on canvas, edition size 400, dimensions 48" x 60", bearing the authorized signature mark of Chuck Jones. Created from an original oil painting by Chuck Jones.
"TWO'S A CROWD" from the Chuck Jones Time Line Series. Edition size 50 (for the year the film was released-1950), hand-painted 12 field vertical
pan cel (25" x 10.5"), bears the Chuck Jones Authorized Signature Mark.
"KILL DA WABBIT", Deluxe Edition of 250 examples, handpainted animation cel accompanied by a unique handpainted background, 16 field, created from an original drawing by Chuck Jones. Chuck Jones approved each cel with his signature.