Exhibition of the Month: The Art of Pixar

Drawing and the movies have a long history together, and rarely is their connection more direct than in animated films, where everything from characters to scenery to set-pieces begins life as drawings, paintings and sketches. This year, a drawing exhibition in New York gives museum-goers a glimpse into how drawing, painting and design have shaped one of the most beloved line of American films in recent years: the movies of Pixar Animation Studios.

“Pixar: The Design of Story” is a participatory exhibition on view at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum until August 7, 2016. According to the exhibition’s press release:

Featuring original artwork, including rarely seen hand-drawn sketches, paintings and sculptures, the exhibition reveals how Pixar develops popular characters, fosters emotional connection to its films and, ultimately, how the design process is at the studio’s core.

Through concept art from films such as Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, Brave, The Incredibles and Cars, among others, the exhibition will focus on Pixar’s process of iteration, collaboration and research, and is organized into three key design principles: story, believability and appeal. The exhibition will be on view in the museum’s immersive Process Lab—an interactive space that was launched with the transformed Cooper Hewitt in December 2014—whose rotating exhibitions engage visitors with activities that focus on the design process, emphasizing the role of experimentation in design thinking and making.

Among the work on display in the Pixar exhibit is architectural research conducted during the development of Up, storyboards from The Incredibles, sculptural models of characters from Toy Story and drawings from the development of Wall-E.

Jay Shuster, WALL-E Arm Option, "WALL-E," 2008. Correction fluid, ink and marker on paper.

Wall-E Arm Option, from “Wall-E,” by Jay Shuster, 2008, ink, marker and correction fluid on paper. © Disney/Pixar

Ricky Nierva, Riley and Emotions, "Inside Out," 2015. Watercolor and marker on paper.

Riley and Emotions, from “Inside Out,” by Ricky Nierva, 2015, watercolor and marker on paper. © Disney/Pixar

Don Shank, Carl’s House, "Up," 2009. Digital painting.

Carl’s House, from “Up,” by Don Shank, 2009, digital painting. © Disney/Pixar

Robert Kondo, Remy in the Kitchen, "Ratatouille," 2007. Digital painting.

Remy in the Kitchen, from “Ratatouille,” by Robert Kondo, 2007, digital painting. © Disney/Pixar

Installation view of "Pixar: The Design of Story." Photo by Matt Flynn

Installation view of “Pixar: The Design of Story.” Photo: Matt Flynn. © Smithsonian Institution

Enjoy the show! To stay posted about exhibitions and other drawing news, be sure to subscribe to Drawing magazine.

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