Before Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and way before even Snow White and Mickey Mouse, there was a nameless horse who was the subject of a rich man’s hypothesis.
Leland Stanford, former governor of California and a horse-racing fan, wondered if during a run, all four legs of a horse left the ground. To prove his hypothesis, Stanford hired photographer Eadweard Muybridge to take a series of photos in a row of a horse in a trot. When he put all the photos together, Muybridge and Stanford could see how the horse moved and it was this proven hypothesis in 1877 that made animation possible.
At Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, Watch Me Move: The Animation Show is the most extensive exhibition ever mounted that presents the full range of animated imagery produced since the 1877 moving image of a running horse. There’s just a few days left to catch the exhibit before it closes Dec. 24.
Through over 111 works, from iconic clips to lesser-known masterpieces, Watch Me Move offers timely insight into animation as a cultural phenomenon. For the first time, the work of cut-out, collage, puppet, clay and stop-motion animators, auteur filmmakers and contemporary artists is presented alongside the creative output of commercial studios, from Walt Disney to Fleischer, from Hanna-Barbera to Aardman, and from Studio Ghibli to Pixar.
It’s not just for kids. The exhibition has some very sophisticated animation, a few even a bit racy, that shows how over the past century, animation has moved to become a genuine art form.