Disney Spain- The Art of Storytelling

At CaixaForum Barcelona today, Elisa Durán, Assistant General Manager of ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation, Valentín Farràs, Director of CaixaForum Barcelona, and Kristen McCormick and Tamara Khalaf, members of the curatorial team at the Walt Disney ARL, presents Disney Art of Storytelling, an enthralling journey through the fantastic world of Disney and an exploration of some of the studio’s major creations over the last eight decades.

In its cultural programmes, ”la Caixa” Foundation focuses particularly on forms of artistic expression that have played a key role in shaping the contemporary sensibility. This line of action has come to life in the shape of exhibitions devoted to the world of film, which with photography is among the most characteristic genres in twentieth-century art.

The Foundation has devoted major projects to such great names in the world of cinema as the directors Charles Chaplin, Federico Fellini and Georges Méliès. Other initiatives include collective projects like The Cinema Effect Illusion, Reality and the Moving Image and Art and Cinema. 120 Years of Exchanges, which explored the links between the cinematic art and the fine and visual arts.

Particularly outstanding in this firmly-established line of programming linked to the world of film was the Foundation’s first show devoted to the art of animation. Organised in 2014 and 2015, this was Pixar 25 Years of Animation, an in-depth review of the work of a studio that became a pioneer for its use of technology to create animated movies.

Now, ”la Caixa” Foundation takes another step forward with this new project, launched in cooperation with the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. Disney Art of Storytelling takes us on a visual journey through the creative history of the American studio from the 1930s to more recent times, with particular emphasis on the literary origins of its stories and the updated versions of them that successive Disney creative teams have constructed. All this, presented in an interactive setting that makes visitors the protagonists of their own adventure as they wander among castles, woods and cabins.

This travelling show comes to Spain after presentations in Sweden (Nordic Watercolour Museum, Skärjamn) and Denmark (Brandts Museum of Art and Visual Culture, Odense). The exhibition was presented at CaixaForum Sevilla in November 2017.

Narrating in words and images:

The art of storytelling has played a vital role in human history. Stories embody shared experiences and lessons, fictions and dreams that have become guiding narratives woven into our cultural and social fabric. Since its arrival in the twentieth century, the cinema has become the leading medium for telling stories.

Reflecting all this, many Disney animated films are based on well-known myths, fables, legends, the “tall tales” of North American folklore, and fairy tales. In reworking these classics into film, Walt Disney and his successive creative teams have synthesised versions of stories from all times, modernising them to make them more accessible and adapting them to today’s audiences.

As a result of this, the company has always stood out for its constant devotion to beauty and sensitivity, thereby turning animation and cinematographic narrative into a true art. The exhibit, Art of Storytelling, enables visitors to discover the creative skills of draftsmen and story artists and to appreciate their masterful use of a new language to present universal themes.

This process leads to traditional films that are aimed not only at children, but appear at the very centre of family and collective life.

An exhibition conceived as an adventure:

Seeking to illustrate the process of adapting traditional stories to contemporary sensibilities, from the earliest films to the present, the Walt Disney Animation Research Library and ”la Caixa” Foundation conceived the exhibition itself as an adventure.

Art of Storytelling is structured into five sections. The exhibition begins at the original Disney studios with its drawing tables, and a set that takes us back to the California of those days. From here on, the visitor becomes the protagonist, following an imaginary path: the cabin and the wood; the world of tall tales in which the decisive test takes place; and finally, the castle, where Disney stories always have a happy ending.

The exhibition features a total of 215 pieces, including a large selection of drawings of characters and scenes created using various techniques – watercolour, charcoal, pastel, grease pencil, graphite, ink, tempera, acrylic, digital painting and so on. Other features include production notes, story sketches and pages from screenplays, which all help us to understand the methods that made it possible to create these animated classics. Finally, three short films will be shown, along with the 1939 documentary How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made.

The exhibition is completed by a catalogue published by ”la Caixa” Foundation and featuring texts provided by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. This catalogue will emphasise the literary origins of the stories told in the films featured in the show, as well as exploring the updated versions created by the Disney studio.

A programme of parallel activities will also be organised. With something for all audiences, this programme will include an inaugural lecture by Kristen McCormick and Tamara Khalaf, members of the curatorial team at the Walt Disney ARL, and two additional activities: first, a series of talks about the ‘Art of Storytelling’ coordinated by the author and scriptwriter Sergi Martín; and, second, a movie season for kids. Guided visits will also be organised for the general public, families and schools.