Loyola Marymount Presents “Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde” – Animation Scoop

Loyola Marymount Presents “Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde”

A unique classic animation exhibit, Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde, opens Sept. 22nd at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery, reflecting the unlikely collision of people, art forms, political beliefs and wartime efforts. Varied elements of animator Shamus Culhane’s creative inspiration and productions will be explored in the exhibition. Paintings and watercolors by artists Jules Engel, Oskar Fischinger, Losar Feiltelson, Knud Merrild, and Byron Randall, which Culhane likely saw at the American Contemporary Gallery in the 1940s, will be presented. Similarly, there will be an ongoing screening of avant-garde films by Man Ray, Maya Deren, Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute. The exhibition will offer focused studies of several 1940s films from Walter Lantz Productions including The Loose Nut and the military training film The Enemy Bacteria.

A film still from The Loose Nut (1945) , Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.

A film still from The Loose Nut (1945) , Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Amidst the turbulence of the Second World War, fine artists, animators, filmmakers and musicians found a sense of freedom and unexpected sources of inspiration in Los Angeles. The American Contemporary Gallery in Hollywood was a gathering place for a creative community that came to see the latest art exhibition and attend weekly screenings of classic and avant-garde films. Among the attendees was a young director named Shamus Culhane, who began to experiment at Walter Lantz Productions, bringing surprising avant-garde artistic references and film techniques into mainstream animated Woody Woodpecker films. The results brought Woody Woodpecker to his peak as a brazen character, embodying the shifting tenor of early 1940s cartoons.

Culhane’s and his colleagues’ working methods will be highlighted through the presentation of materials such as story boards, animation cels, model sheets, and character studies. HD transfers of Culhane’s innovative film experiments are being made especially for this exhibition.

The exhibition also marks the first presentation of paintings by Northern California artist Byron Randall since the 1940s.

Watch Curator Tom Klein talk about the hidden avant-garde elements in Woody Woodpecker films:

Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde celebrates a landmark gift to LMU School of Film and Television from the Walter Lantz Foundation. Along with the gift, the Foundation committed several works of art, many of which will be on view.

The exhibit is co-organized by LMU’s School of Film and Television, College of Communication and Fine Arts, and Laband Art Gallery, with generous cooperation from Universal Studios.

Exhibition-Related Programs (all events are free)

Walkthrough by Curator Tom Klein & Opening Reception
Thursday, September 22, 3-6pm Walkthrough (3pm) Reception (4-6pm) Laband Art Gallery
LMU Chair of Animation and Curator of the exhibition will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition followed by an opening reception.

Talk: David E. James, Avant-Garde Film in Los Angeles in the Early 1940s
Thursday October 20, 2016, 7pm
Animation Drawing Room, Communication Arts Building, Room 310

USC Professor David E. James will discuss his book The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (2006).

For More Information
For current program and exhibition information, call 310-338-2880 or visit the Gallery website. Join the conversation: #WoodyAvantGarde

Gallery Information
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Admission: Admission is free. Parking is available on campus for a charge on the weekdays and for free on the weekends.
Location/Parking: The Gallery is in the Fritz B. Burns Fine Arts Center on the LMU campus. Enter the campus at Lincoln and LMU Drive. A kiosk attendant will direct you to parking and the gallery. There is a charge for parking on the weekdays. Parking is free on the weekends. For a map of the school, visit here.

Jerry Beck

Jerry Beck

Writer, cartoon producer and author of more than 15 books on animation history. A former studio exec with Nickelodeon and Disney; currently on the faculty at both CalArts in Valencia and Woodbury University in Burbank.
Jerry Beck
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