Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stuff Seen - Once upon a time Walt Disney


Once upon a time Walt Disney at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal


This one will be a hit with the kids, the folk who frequent McDonald's, and the people who watch TV. I just got back from the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, and saw the Disney exhibit that they have up on their walls right now. While waiting for the museum to open I met Janet Bagnall, where she told me that she was coming to see the exhibit because she was concerned about the 'dumbing down' of the museum. I mentioned back to her, that I felt it wasn't so much a cause of dumbing down the museum, but of a smartening up of Disney.

Once upon a time Walt Disney at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

As I thought it was not just a show of Walt Disney memorabilia (despite this Euro Disney model). There were a bunch of legitimate art objects such as paintings from the 19th century, a whack of chat tags explaining the hows and whys and whats about stuff. Basically the idea is to show the 'inspirations' for some (but not all) Walt Disney movies made while Mr. Disney was alive. Or if you prefer another way of putting it would be where and what Mr. Disney stole that ended up in films that he put his name to. Some of the ways that they present it is done quite nicely, there are a bunch of synchronized TV screens placed side by side that show stuff that is quite convincing in showing how blatant the lifting was.

As they pretty much stopped making any comparisons after 1967 or so, I will stand by my statement of 'smartening up' of Disney instead of a dumbing down of the museum, after all they've already done Hitchcock, and Aluminum (although they haven't gotten around to doing Ralph Lauren, yet). And Bruno Girveau (the man with the idea) said he approached Disney, not the other way around.

Some of the highlights for me were the 'special Oscar' presented to Disney for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Pink Elephants on parade sequence as you walk in the doors, the devil sculpture by Thomas Theodor Heine. But by far and away the bestest and most impressive part of the show was the (drum roll please...)

The Destino room. I've written about it before (obliquely) but the attempt to create the collaboration by Dali and Disney is pretty gosh darn cool! I don't know if I would have used so much computer generated graphics to make it, when computers didn't exist then, but who am I to complain? I can't draw a darn thing to save my life.

I also did not like that they have it on an endless loop. If it was made to have a beginning, a middle and an end, why do they insist on presenting it as if there wasn't? Would they think of hanging a painting upside down? And it would have been just as easy to say that it was a six minute film that started on the hour and at 10 past, 20 past, 30 past, 40 past, and 50 past the hour.

In perusing my press kit, I came across this:

First I scratched my head. I didn't think I had seen any Warhol pieces, and how was he an inspiration for Walt Disney? But if you allow me to digress slightly, SODRAC has absolutely no business insisting on this sort of crap. I still have my interview that I did with them (and now I have help to transcribe it...) End of digression.

It reminded me that down in the basement of the museum there was a whole other room dedicated to art that had been inspired by Disney. And this was not anything having to do with any movie - this was absolutely everything to do with the company called Disney. Yes, the Andy Warhol piece was there, as was the Jim Dine piece (I liked the Dine), and the Boltanski, the Lebel (who I think was there himself), the Oldenburg, and David Mach. And I'm not quite certain why there was a Trevor Gould piece there, unless there was something written stating that there absolutely had to be local content.

I didn't quite understand why there needed to be so many artists from France, but as the main curators were French it obviously made stuff easier. I'm certain that there are some pretty kick-ass Disney inspired pieces by American artists that would knock the French stuff on its ear - but I'm not a curator.

I wish that they had switched the locations of the modern stuff and the store, as I fear that most (say 90%) of the people who go to see the show are going to miss it, unless someone takes them by the hand and leads them down there. But yeah the show is pretty nice. A very enjoyable way to while away two hours (more if you watch Destino more than once, like I did).

Then if you have a little (very little) time to kill, there is a one question survey affiliated with this post, thanks tons in advance.

The show starts tomorrow, and goes on until June 24, 2007 (Fete Saint Jean!). It costs $15 if you are a regular person, but can be cheaper if you are not, and there are whacks upon whacks of related activities all described in detail here.

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