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Exhibition of classic and lesser-known works demonstrate intellectual and emotive power of animation
Snack and Drink, Bob Sabiston, 2000. Courtesy of Flat Black Films.
DETROIT, MICH.- 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.

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 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 includes 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.

This exhibition has been organized by Barbican Centre, London.

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