The Walt Disney Family Museum Presents Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja – Animation Scoop

The Walt Disney Family Museum Presents Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja

The next exhibition coming to The Walt Disney Family Museum this spring is a must-see: Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja. It celebrates the work of one of the most accomplished character animators of our time. Running March 23rd through October 4th, the exhibition showcases original works on paper and maquettes of Deja’s most iconic Disney characters – from menacing villains Scar and Jafar and larger-than-life muscle men Gaston and Hercules, to the much beloved Mama Odie and Lilo Pelekai. Deja View will also feature some of Deja’s independent projects, including his upcoming short film Mushka which he animated in a colored pencil style.

In 1967, when Deja was 13 years old and living in Germany, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book inspired him to become an animator for the Walt Disney Animation Studios. He wrote the company a now well-known letter to inquire about the application process, and he began to realize the dedication and skill it would take to get there.

“The day I received a letter back from Walt Disney Productions expressing the necessity to become a master in the mechanics of drawing, it lit a fire in me to truly become an outstanding animator,” said Deja. “After years of art school and dedicating my personal time to studying animal anatomy and behavior, I was accepted into the animation training program at The Walt Disney Studios in August 1980 and didn’t look back once.”

Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja is organized by The Walt Disney Family Museum and is being presented in the Theater Gallery from March 23 to October 4, 2017.

Andreas Deja first applied for a job as a Disney animator at the age of 10. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, he remembers writing to The Studios immediately after seeing The Jungle Book. The Studios wrote back to explain there were no openings but that they were always on the look-out for new talent. This offered him the encouragement he needed and the motivation to work hard towards that goal. At the age of 20, after completing his studies, he applied again and this time he was accepted. Deja completed several tests and went on to do early character design, costume research, and animation for The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Oliver & Company (1988), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).

While working on The Little Mermaid (1989), Deja oversaw the animation of King Triton, a powerful figure that required expert skills in draftsmanship and acting ability. For Disney’s Academy Award®-winning animated musical Beauty and the Beast (1991), he served as the supervising animator for the first of his many Disney villains, the very pompous and narrow- minded Gaston.

Deja continued to explore his darker side by designing and animating the evil vizier, Jafar, for Disney’s animated-musical hit Aladdin (1992). He went on to supervise the animation of the power-hungry villain, Scar, in The Lion King (1994), which has become one of The Walt Disney Studios’ most successful films, which became The Walt Disney Studios’ most successful animated film at the time of its release, and quickly earned a place as one of the industry’s biggest films of all time.

For his next assignment, Deja relocated to the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Paris animation facility for a stint overseeing the animation of Mickey Mouse in Runaway Brain, the first new Mickey short since 1953 and an Oscar nominee in 1996 for Best Animated Short. Following that, he returned to Burbank where he took on the challenging assignment of bringing life and personality to the title hero in Disney’s 35th full-length animated feature, Hercules (1997). He went on to design and supervise the animation for the charming and unpredictable little Hawaiian girl, Lilo in Lilo & Stitch (2002), hailed as one of the Studios’ most entertaining and imaginative features.

Deja contributed animation for several characters in Disney’s live-action/animated musical Enchanted (2007), and served as one of the supervising animators on Goofy’s big-screen return in the short film How to Hook Up Your Home Theatre (2007). He was a supervising animator on Disney’s hand-drawn animated feature, The Princess and the Frog (2009). Deja supervised the animation of Tigger for a new Winnie the Pooh feature, which was released theatricaly in 2011.

In 2007, he was honored with the Winsor McCay Award from ASIFA-Hollywood (the International Animated Film Association). In 2015, he was named a Disney Legend by The Walt Disney Company. At present time, Andreas Deja is working on his own independent animated short films, including Mushka, and contributes regularly animation related material on his blog, Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja.

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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