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August 09 2012

November 01 2011

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal: animation art auction

Nick Park's claymation heroes join Morph, the Pink Panther, Danger Mouse and Jessica Rabbit to raise money for Bristol Children's Hospital

June 23 2010

Where are today's Leonardos? Toy Story | Jonathan Jones

You only have to watch the 'making of' features on your Pixar DVD to see a modern Renaissance in progress

Andy Warhol did not know how near he was to the end of his life when he painted his own compelling set of variations on Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Or did he intuit it? His black screenprints reduce Leonardo's subtle tones to a bleak tearjerker, a grief stain. In an interview he said there were no artists like Leonardo any more: in the late 20th century those kinds of geniuses were creating haute couture, he observed.

There's some truth in that remark. If he was around nowadays, however, the pop prophet would surely see another, more convincing modern Renaissance legacy.

As excitement builds about Toy Story 3, it is time to acknowledge the Renaissance masters of our time. Pixar and other studios at the forefront of digital animation and effects are dealing with something very comparable to the problems solved by artists in 15th-century Italy. In the current exhibition of Italian Renaissance drawings at the British Museum you can see a drawing of a goblet by Paolo Uccello to which the natural reaction is "it looks just like a computer graphic". The reason it looks so digital is that artists such as Uccello were trying to turn their minds into computers. They did not just strive to paint "what they saw"; they wanted to create a completely convincing three-dimensional simulacrum of it, by plotting the contours of a virtually real space into their pictures.

If you watch the "making of" features on your DVD of the original Toy Story you will be told the story of a modern Renaissance. The Pixar team did not accidentally hit on a new way to make toys apparently come to life on screen. After seeing earlier attempts at digital animation they actively theorised that it was possible to perfect this technology, and to use it to create "real" animated worlds of an intricacy and vitality that would amaze and move audiences in a completely new way.

Toy Story and its successors are colossal artistic achievements. There is, perhaps, nothing happening in "fine art" today to match what the whizzkids who created them have imagined. Just as the great Disney films of the 1930s and 40s stand equal to the best of modern American painting, so does Toy Story tower among the aesthetic inventions of our time. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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