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Detroit Institute of Arts celebrates Art of Animation with Watch Me Move: The Animation Show - Classic and lesser-known works demonstrate intellectual and emotive power of animation

Thursday, August 29, 2013

(Detroit)—In 1911, American cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay prefaced his short film Little Nemo with the invitation to “Watch Me Move,” introducing a cast of colorful characters in a playful promenade. A century later, those words are in the title of the special exhibition Watch Me Move: The Animation Show, on view Oct. 6, 2013–Jan. 5, 2014 at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Watch Me Move is the most extensive animation show ever mounted, featuring both iconic moments and lesser-known masterpieces from the last 150 years. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to see an incredible array of animation techniques in more than 100 animated film segments from across generations and cultures. The exhibition will include classic works alongside lesser-known pieces that help demonstrate the full intellectual and emotive power of animation.

“Artists have been experimenting with ways to create the illusion of movement throughout history,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Animation as an art form offers limitless opportunities for creativity, and this exhibition illustrates how artists use the medium not just to entertain, but also to explore cultural issues and elements of the human condition.”

The exhibition includes animation’s great inventors, innovators and artists, from Georges Méliès and Chuck Jones to William Kentridge and Tim Burton, as well work from animation studios such as Walt Disney, Aardman, Studio Ghibli and Pixar. The exhibition also includes cult figures of animation, who broke boundaries in the field.

The exhibition is divided into seven interrelated chapters: Beginnings—the emergence of the animated image; Characters—animation’s ability to construct powerful, complex personalities; Fairy Tales—the use of animation to re-present existing myths and fables and invent new ones; Animation for Art's Sake—underlying formal and conceptual structures of the medium; Superhumans—the exaggerated, extended character; and Artistic Visions—mapping animated worlds onto the “real” world.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 6–17, $15 for groups of 15+, and include a pass to one exhibition-related program at the Detroit Film Theatre. Tickets for those who see the exhibition by Nov. 17 are $14 for adults and $8 for ages 6–17. DIA members are free.

This exhibition has been organized by Barbican Centre, London. The Barbican Centre is provided by the City of London Corporation as part of its contribution to the cultural life in London and the nation.

In Detroit, generous support has been provided by the GM Foundation and Honigman. Additional support has been provided by Quicken Loans & Rock Ventures LLC.

Hours and Admission
Museum hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.

To download high resolution images click here.

Related Programs
(Programs are free unless otherwise noted)

Detroit Film Theatre
The Detroit Film Theatre (DFT) presents a variety of animated films in conjunction with Watch Me Move. Compilations of short films in 10 categories cover the milestones in the history of animation. Tickets are $5 per showing, and exhibition visitors receive a free ticket to one screening. Running time for each program is approximately one hour.

Pioneers of Animation
Thursdays, Oct. 10, 24, Dec. 19 and Jan. 2: 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 10: 2 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 29: 4 p.m.
At the dawn of the 20th century, visionary artists such as the Lumière brothers, Etienne-Jules Marey, Emile Cohland Georges Méliès discovered the ability of artificially animated images to cast a spell of astonishment. More than a century later, these exquisite works retain their enchanting power.

Early East Coast Studios
Fridays, Oct. 11, 25, Dec. 20 and Jan. 3: 4 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 14: 2 p.m.
Animation evolved into a sizeable business by the 1920s. In New York, pioneers such as Max and Dave Fleisher were creating characters like Koko the Clown, Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor, who literally popped “out of the inkwell” to embark on surrealistic, sophisticated adventures that embraced the ethos and rhythms of the Jazz Age.

Golden Age of Hollywood Animation
Saturdays, Oct. 12, 26, Dec. 21 and Jan. 4: 2 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 15: 4 p.m.
The first movie stars were products of Hollywood, but for animators on the West Coast like Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, the biggest stars were not discovered at auditions—they were drawn from scratch, ready to perform as directed.

Warner Bros. Animation
Saturdays, Oct. 12, 26, Dec. 21 and Jan. 4: 4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16: 2 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1: 2 p.m.
For audacity and comic invention, perhaps no other Hollywood studio matched the imaginative output of Warner Brothers. The words “Looney Tunes” appearing in a darkened theater brought immediate cheers, as characters like Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and the Road Runner were brought to life.

Avant-Garde Animation
Sundays, Oct. 13, 27, Dec. 22 and Jan. 5: 2 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16: 4 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 5: 2 p.m.
Since the earliest days of animation, experimentation with the abstract, non-narrative possibilities of the movie screen as a channel for expression has appealed to such artists as Oskar Fischinger, Fernand Léger and the Quay Brothers. Dispensing with traditional storylines, these films used the power of suggestion and the pure joy of motion to grab viewers' attention

The National Film Board of Canada
Thursdays, Oct. 17, 31, Dec. 26: 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 17: 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 6: 4 p.m.
Canada’s National Film Board (NFB) has produced a staggering number of short animated works, receiving more than 50 Oscar® nominations. Ranging from the comic to the poetic, the NFB has supported animators whose works have utilized hand-drawn animation, clay animation, stop-motion animation and pixilation to create visions of a world both beautiful and troubled.

Early Television Animation
Friday, Oct. 18: 4 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 21: 2 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7: 2 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28: 2 p.m.
By the 1950s, Saturday morning TV meant one thing to American kids: cartoons. A universe of characters could be found, including Scooby-Doo and Fred Flintstone.

Post-War European Animation
Saturdays, Oct. 19 and Nov. 23: 2 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8: 2 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28: 4 p.m.
After World War II, animation artists in Soviet-bloc countries found ingenious and powerful ways to express the anxiety and fear that constituted day-to-day existence under repressive regimes. Walerian Borowczyk, Jiri Trnka, Jan Svankmajer and others distilled their feelings into dark, visual metaphors that conveyed their message to the rest of the world.

Animated Oddities and Unexpected Pleasures
Saturdays, Oct. 19 and Nov. 23: 4 p.m.
Sundays, Nov. 3 and Dec. 29: 2 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 12: 2 p.m.
Some of the most memorable animated short films have not been part of an easily identifiable stylistic or thematic trend. From one-joke comic larks to the early work of Tim Burton and the fables of John and Faith Hubley, animation is often the medium of choice for expressing the inexpressible.

Computer Animation
Sundays, Oct. 20, Nov. 24: 2 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 7: 2 p.m.
Fridays, Dec. 13 and 30: 4 p.m.
Monday, December 30: 2 p.m.
The earliest experiments in computer generated imagery took place in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1986 that Pixar’s short film Luxo Jr. made the world take notice. Following Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs in 1993, computer animation became a doorway that led animators and feature filmmakers to a limitless frontier.

Family Programs
Artist Demonstration: Stop-Motion Animation

Sunday, Oct. 13: Noon–4 p.m.
Gary Schwartz demonstrates simple techniques for creating stop-motion animation films.

Animation Class: Wheel of Life (ages 9 and older)
Sunday, Oct. 20: 1–3:30 p.m.
A zoetrope, or “Wheel of Life,” was a popular 19th-century viewing toy, which remains an imagination-spinning introduction to animation. Join Gary Schwartz for this hands-on workshop and build your very own zoetrope. This class has a fee. Call 313-833-4004 for information and to register.

Artist Demonstration: Shadow Animation
Sunday, Nov. 24: Noon–4 p.m.
Puppeteers from Adzooks Puppets illustrate principles that link puppetry and animation in a hands-on demonstration combining shadow characters and other 2D images using iPads, provided by the performers.

Animation Class: Stop Motion (ages 5 and older)
Sunday, Dec. 1: 1–3 p.m.
Stop motion is an animation technique using ordinary materials—apples, shoes, toys—that appear to move on their own. Gary Schwartz reveals the secrets of bringing everyday objects to life. This class has a fee. Call 313-833-4004 for information and to register.

Artist Demonstration: The Animated Puppets of Coraline
Sunday, Dec. 15: Noon–4 p.m.
Puppet fabricator Victoria Rose Best demonstrates production techniques used to create the animated characters in the film Coraline, while talking about the other characters, toys and monsters that populate her creative work.

Flip Book Drop-in Workshops
Sundays in October: Noon–4 p.m.
Fridays in Nov.: 6–9 p.m.
Saturdays in December: Noon–4 p.m.
Learn about this simple animation process and create a small book with images that appear to move.

The Films of Ladislaw Starewicz with Little Bang Theory

Friday, Nov. 1: 7 p.m.
Ladislaw Starewicz’s began creating his surreal stop-motion animation films in 1910 and continued until his death in 1965. The equally innovative and quirky music of Frank Pahl and Little Bang Theory will accompany a selection of Starewicz’s works.

Omar Sosa
Friday, Nov. 8: 7 p.m.
Composer-pianist-bandleader Omar Sosa creates music that fuses electronic elements with his native Afro-Cuban roots to create a fresh and original sound with a Latin-jazz heart.

Chico and Rita
Friday, Nov. 8: 9:30 p.m.
Oscar®-winning director Fernando Trueba and Spain’s legendary illustrator Javier Mariscal celebrate the music and culture of Cuba with an epic story of love, passion, and heartbreak. In 1948 Cuba, Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and desire unite them as they chase their dreams and each other from Havana to New York to Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. Featuring the music of (and animated cameos by) Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo and others.

The Warner Bros. Superstars: A Looney Tunes “Top Ten” Celebration

Saturday, Oct. 19: 7 p.m.
Animation historian Jerry Beck (The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes CartoonsT) will discuss how Warner Bros. Studios created the signature animated characters and short films of the 1940s and ‘50s, and explore the intertwined careers of the animators who produced them. Tickets: $5. Sponsored by Associates of the American Wing

From Mickey Mouse to Buzz Lightyear
Saturday, Nov. 2: 3 p.m.
Leslie Iwerks is an Oscar®-nominated director, as well as the granddaughter of Ub Iwerks, who designed Mickey Mouse. She will chronicle the evolution of animation from the 1920s, when her grandfather worked with Walt Disney, through the era of computer animation that has revolutionized Hollywood. Tickets: $5. Sponsored by Friends of Detroit Film Theatre

An Animated Continent: Europe’s Role in the Shaping of an Art Form
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m.
Elliot Wilhelm, director of the DFT, talks about the significant role European artists played in the history of cinema, ever since August and Louis Lumière projected motion pictures before a paying audience in 1895. Tickets are $60 and include the lecture, a private cocktail reception and an exclusive viewing of the special exhibition Watch Me Move: The Animation Show. Call 313-833-4005 or visit to purchase tickets. Sponsored by the Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.

Bam! Piff! Pow! Creating Superhero Art
Saturday, Nov. 16: 7 p.m.
Creators of Batman: The Animated Series Alan Burnett and Paul Dini will speak on their collaborations, including Justice League, Ultimate Spider-Man and their new project Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Tickets: $5.

Out of the Inkwell, Out of the Vaults
Saturday, Nov. 30: 3 p.m.
Steve Stanchfield, professor of animation history at the College for Creative Studies, award-winning animator and co-owner of Thunderbean studio in Ann Arbor, will discuss the art and technology of animation with examples from his extensive film collection. Tickets: $5.


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
Contact:        Pamela Marcil    313-833-7899