Pixar: 25 Years of Animation Reveals the Story Behind World’s Favorite Characters

By Yoana Gaydova 

After conquering the world, the international travelling exhibition Pixar: 25 Years of Animation reached Amsterdam and opened doors to the animation enthusiasts of all ages on May 30, 2013 at Amsterdam EXPO. Until October 27, 2013 visitors can enjoy over 500 original works from the archives of Pixar Animation Studios in California, which follow the creative process behind some of the most successful animated films, such as Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Toy Story, Monsters University, Ratatouille and Up.

The Artworks

Sketches, storyboards, pen, marker and ink drawings, acrylic and watercolor paintings, pastels, digital paintings, handmade models, clay figures and media pieces give an insight of how world’s favorite animated characters have been brought to life. Each of the various tools and mediums express in the most effective way the ideas, emotions, creativity and talent of the individual artist, behind the work. Short behind-the-scenes movies reveal how the ideas and stories originated and how the characters evolved.

The Toy Story Zoetrope and The Artscape of Pixar

The exhibition features two breathtaking media installations, called The Toy Story Zoetrope and The Artscape. The Zoetrope was a popular form of home entertainment, patented in the U.S. in 1867. The device shows a rotating sequence of still images inside a cylinder, which demonstrates the basic principles of animation, before the invention of the cinema. It visualizes how a repeated image creates the illusion of motion.



The Artscape is a widescreen digital art installation created by artist Andrew Jimenez especially for the exhibition. It is formed by original drawings and paintings in pastels, charcoal and gouache by Pixar artists, manipulated digitally, shown in a simulated three-dimensional motion, in high-resolution format. It gives the viewer an immersive experience of entering into the exquisite details of the artwork.

Sharing with the World the Beautiful Art of Pixar

Elyse Klaidman, the director of Pixar University and Archives and Curator of the exhibition, says in an interview that John Lasseter always wanted to share with the world the beautiful art, created by Pixar artists and that people aren’t aware of the essential role that traditional art-making plays in their process. This is how the idea of the exhibition came about.

‘People often do not realize how important traditional media such as drawing and painting are to a computer animated film. The artists of Pixar studios create hundreds, sometimes thousands of artworks to help us in discover a film’s characters and worlds. The work they do is amazing and before this exhibition was put together, there was no way for us to share the original works with people outside the studio. We are pleased that these works are now going on display in the Netherlands’, says John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and Principal Creative Advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering.

‘When people think of Pixar, they often think of the movies, stories, innovative technology and brilliant computer graphics. However, many people are unaware of the fact that traditional visual arts play an essential role in the animation process. I am very proud to present this international exhibition in Amsterdam EXPO and to be able to tell the story of Pixar’, explains Peter Tabernal, CEO of Amsterdam EXPO.

The exhibition premiered in New York in December 2005 and before landing in the Netherlands, it has been travelling to the UK, Japan, Scotland, Australia, Finland, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Italy and Germany. It features 130 artists’s works, 350 framed pieces, 51 maquettes, 45 unframed pieces, 49 digital works and over 15 pieces of media. Pixar and their 52 Academy Award nominations, 30 Academy Awards, 15 of which are Oscars and 8 Golden Globes, make their films examples of the most successful ones ever created.

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