Celluloid Diaries: The art of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The art of Walt Disney Animation Studios

musée art ludique exhibition paris

Last month, we visited the exhibition The Art of Walt Disney Animation Studios: Movement by Nature at the Musée Art Ludique in Paris. In case you didn't know, the museum was created in 2013 and specializes in exhibitions about animated films. Some of their previous exhibitions include Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, The Art of Marvel Superheroes, Drawings of Studio Ghibli, Aardman: Art Taking Shape, and The Art of the Blue Sky Studios.

The new Art Ludique exhibition highlights the artistry and technique behind the films of the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Through character studies, model sheets and concept art, you discover how the Walt Disney drawings have evolved over the years, which artists changed the world of animation, how they studied the movement of animals and nature as inspiration for their drawings, and how the vertical multiplane camera was used to create the illusion of movement.

The Art Ludique exhibition follows the Disney movies chronologically and divides them according to the different artistic movements they belonged to.

walt disney drawing bambi
walt disney art ludique

The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to how the art of Walt Disney animation emerged. Here you see several cartoons from the 1920s, displaying emblematic characters such as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Pluto.

Then comes the transition to feature-length animated films with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942).

musée art ludique paris
walt disney dumbo

The 1950s marked the beginning of a new artistic dynamic. Many artists evolved into a stylization of shapes that could also be found in the era's architecture, interior design, and children's book illustrations.

At the Disney Studio, this modern movement was first expressed in short films, followed by the feature films Alice in Wonderland (1951), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).

lady and the tramp concept art
lady and the tramp concept art exhibition

In the 1980s and 1990s, the great artists behind the original masterpieces passed the torch to a new generation of concept artists and animators, who were themselves influenced since childhood by the Disney movies. 

With the impressive modernity of their techniques and art, these new Disney movies - The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998), and Tarzan (1999) - helped usher in a new golden age of animation around the world, with Japanese productions reaching the Western market and the increasing production of stop-motion animation and CGI animated films.

mulan disney exhibition
the lion king walt disney exhibition

The Studio's early 21st century productions contributed to the emergence of a new era of computer-generated images. Their most recent films revisit some well-known stories with a modern style and viewpoint (Tangled, Frozen, Moana) as well as contemporary themes such as video games (Wreck-It Ralph) and super-heroes (Big Hero 6).

walt disney reck-it ralph
paris exhibition
paris musée art ludique

While many Walt Disney animated movies are covered at the exhibition, a large part is still missing. Yet it features more than 400 works of art. You need at least two hours to see everything and listen to the audio commentary.

Worldwide, this is the first exhibition dedicated to the Walt Disney Animation Studios. It's a rare occasion to re-discover the world of Disney animated films, from the great classics to the latest box-office successes.

The exhibition succeeds in giving a good overview of how the Walt Disney movies evolved over the decades, but even more so it makes you appreciate and respect all the work, study, and precision that goes into the making of these animated movies.

walt disney exhibition art ludique
walt disney concept art
concept art walt disney

Practical information:

The exhibition The Art of Walt Disney Animation Studios – Movement by Nature at the Musée Art Ludique runs to March 5th, 2017.

Address: Musée Art Ludique, 34 Quai d'Austerlitz, 13th arrondissement, 75013 Paris

Are you a fan of Walt Disney? What are your favorite Walt Disney Movies?

walt disney musée art ludique paris


  1. That would've been fascinating to see. Over fifty films and who knows how many shorts - that's a lot to cover. The development of style over the years would be interesting to see in progression. I still remember when Lion King came out, it was a huge leap for Disney.

  2. Thank you for sharing, loved the post!

  3. Oh how fun! I love Disney and all things Disney!... not sure I could pick just one favorite movie though.

  4. Hi Vanessa - what an amazing exhibition and yes I'd love to visit France to see it -but won't get there before March ...

    Brilliant post and I sent the link to a friend in Australia, who will be visiting, but she'll be in Paris later in the year - sadly!

    What fun ... and fantastic for us to see through your post - cheers Hilary

  5. What a shame it finishes so soon! Fascinating.

  6. As a gal who grew up in Disney's backyard, this sounds like such fun! My favorite Disney movie is Robin Hood, my husband's is The Jungle Book, and our daughter's is Peter Pan!

  7. That would be amazing to see. I have seen a lot of Walt Disney's art at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco (they have the first known drawing of Mickey Mouse) but the work you shared here is truly amazing. Very nice.

  8. Love Disney movies! My favorite is Beauty and the Beast.
    Happy Wednesday!!!

  9. I would love to be able to draw like Walt Disney! The classic animations are masterpieces and will always be my favorite children's cartoons. I don't care too much for the newer stuff, which kinda makes me sad. :( Thanks for sharing and linking up!

  10. What a great exhibition! I love the older Walt Disney cartoons!

  11. I hope it comes stateside cos it looks really inneresting. TW remembers seeing 101 Dalmatians when it first was released.

  12. Fascinating!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

  13. Very interesting and I do love Disney ... Dumbo is probably my favorite and Bambi because they were from my childhood. Today I am not sure when I am watching Disney as there are so many animation companies, but I find them all amazing and most enjoyable. A pleasant break from what our real world has become :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  14. Thank you for sharing this. I love Disney! It really beats the shows that my kids are watching on TV these days.

  15. These drawings are just great.
    My fav Disney film? That is a difficult one, I cannot really say...

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