NEW YORK, NY.- Heritage Auctions
will hold its inaugural Animation Art Signature® Auction Feb. 21, signaling a major step into the category from the world's third largest auction house. The auction is deep in prime examples of animation art from a wide variety of subjects, including key animation cels from Disney, Warner Brothers, Hannah Barbera, Peanuts, Simpsons, Sponge Bob Squarepants and many other titles from across the spectrum of animation.
"This auction serves as nothing less than a complete survey of the history of animation art from its inception in the 1930s through the turn of the millennium," said Jim Lentz, Director of Animation Art at Heritage. "Fans of the classics will have choices from Disney to Warner Brothers and everything in-between, while modern collectors will find pop culture classics from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This is a tremendous opportunity for smart collectors to get in on the ground floor of a resurgence of the category."
Animation art saw a surge in popularity and prices in the 1980s and 1990s before summarily dropping off the radar of major collectors. In that time, however, the landscape of animation and collecting has changed in radical ways.
"Around the turn of the millennium animation became almost completely digital," said Lentz. "Hand-drawn and colored art became the exception, not the rule. In the meantime, an entirely new generation of collectors has grown up and come into the means to buy what they want, and what they want is nostalgia for their youth; specifically for the beloved cartoons they spent their Saturdays and weekdays after school with. The result is the revival we're seeing now."
No conversation on animation art can be had with talking about Disney, and the legacy of the great studio is very much in evidence in the auction with several pieces representing the best the name has to offer, including a pair of original, one-of-a-kind hand-inked and hand-painted production cels of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," along with another cel showing the Queen with an image of herself as the Old Hag. All told, this auction has one of the largest assortments of original artwork from "Snow White" ever offered, which includes besides the cel art - original drawings, concept art, model sheet and in-studio gags.
More Disney highlights include an original black and white production cel of Mickey Mouse from the 1934 Disney short "Traffic Troubles," one of roughly less than 50 black and white Mickey production cels known to exist, and an original production cel set up of one of the most memorable scenes in Disney history, the Belle Notte scene from 1955's "Lady and the Tramp," where the pair are pictured famously eating spaghetti and original concept artwork by legendary Disney Artists Eyvind Earle and Mary Blair.
From the Chuck Jones Archives, consigned by the Jones family, one of the very early developmental sketches that legendary animator Chuck Jones made of Wile E. Coyote, dating back to within a few years of the character's creation, leads a 30+ piece grouping with more than 20 pieces that come directly from the hand of Chuck Jones himself marking the first time since the 1990s that the family has released any "new" work, with none of the pieces in the trove ever having been offered at public auction.
More Looney Tunes greatness is represented in the earliest known artwork to come from the hand of legendary director Robert McKimson, including a beautiful pen and ink drawing for the cover of "Mousetales," a proposed children's book written by his mother. The artwork is illustrated on page 21 of the new coffee table book by Robert McKimson Jr. "I say I say
Son!," a tribute to animators Robert, Chuck and Tom McKimson.
Gen-Xers are sure to be keen to get a look at an original hand-painted production cel from the 1983 Saturday morning Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show on CBS depicting Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, hiding behind enemy lines to avoid a tank, just one of several Peanuts cels in the auction.
Fans of The Jackson Five will thrill to the inclusion of a significant grouping of original production cels from the short-lived ABC cartoon "The Jackson Five," including one spectacular cel from the opening credits depicting all Jackson Five members Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Michael.
Few cartoons in the history of animation are as influential as The Simpsons and original hand-painted production cels from the early run of the show are highly coveted by fans and collectors alike. The auction boasts several important first season cels, including a spectacular cel of Homer and Bart on a cel key master background from the first episode of the show, "Bart the Genius," which ran on Jan, 21, 1990.
The Jetson's is one of the most popular "prime time" cartoons in history and the show is represented in the auction by a fantastic cel, depicting all the characters and signed by the actors who gave them voice when the final episode was recorded, capturing a distinct moment in animation history: George O'Hanlon (George) Penny Singleton (Jane), Daws Butler (Elroy), Janet Waldo (Judy), Don Messick (Astro) Jean Vander Pyl (Rosie the Robot), Mel Blanc (Mr. Spacely) and Frank Welker (Orbity).
The art of Nickelodeon is quite popular when it comes available and this auction boasts several prime examples from the groundbreaking, and still wildly popular, SpongeBob Squarepants, all with the original background art. It is important to note that SpongeBob was only drawn by hand in the first season of the show; after that point all the shows were done digitally, making these cels even more desirable to modern collectors.
While Pixar, and its signature "Toy Story" films are important specifically because they were done in full digital animation, a first edition copy of the book "The Art of Toy Story" signed by many of the artists who worked on the film as well as Don Rickles and singer Randy Newman is sure to draw collector attention. The highlight of the lot, however, is a drawing by Pixar President John Lassetter depicting Buzz Lightyear and Woody with the words "To Infinity and Beyond."
One of the most intriguing offerings in the auction will be two of the original 1960s maquettes used to create the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, few of which if any have ever shown up for public sale. The ride subsequently spawned one of the most popular and influential franchises in Disney and Pop Culture history, leading to rides at most all of Disney's global them parks and giving birth to the wildly successful movie franchise starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.