There can be few people alive today who have not been enchanted by the stories of Disney during their childhoods.
Magical tales, told in animated features or live action films that re-imagine the archetypical myths and legends that have passed from generation to generation down the years, delighting contemporary audiences in much the same way as they have since the founding of the Disney studios almost one hundred years ago.
Telling age old stories to modern audiences
“It’s always been my hope that our films would encourage the public to re-read the old stories and myths at home or in school,” Walt Disney (1901 – 1966)
For animation fans of all ages the exhibition Disney, the art of story telling currently running at CaixaForum Madrid (up until November 4th 2018) provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the drawings, story boards and other elements that form the basis for making these extraordinary works of animated art. Characterisation studies, production notes, original art works including water colours and digital impressions give visitors an insight into how these age old tales drawn from eclectic source material, including mythological legends of the ancient world, folklore and the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, came to be represented to modern audiences.
The stories themselves, often belonging to the oral tradition of morality tales from a time before widespread literacy are expertly rendered through artwork that today inspires the same sense of awe and wonder that the original audiences must have experienced.
Walt Disney, a living legacy in story telling
Walter Elias Disney was a pioneering animator as well as an American entrepreneur and film producer whose legacy is a multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate that is among the planet’s most successful brands. Known as Walt he won 22 Oscars out of 59 nominations during his lifetime since the release of the first animated feature to combine synchronised sound and animated images, a short titled Steamboat Willie released in 1928, which also marked the first appearance of Mickey Mouse who was voiced by Walt Disney up until 1947.
Disney was always fascinated by drawing, after serving in the Red Cross during the First World War in Europe he started work as a newspaper artist when he returned home eventually going on to experiment with different techniques of animation before founding the celebrated Walt Disney Studios in Hollywood during the 1920s together with his brother Roy. During the Great Depression the studio produced emotionally gripping entertainment that brought magical and whimsical stories to a disheartened general public. The studio was the first to employ real life actors and animals to be studied by animators in order to achieve more realistic representation incorporated into the ground breaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) the very first full-length animation feature followed by Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1941). And later after the Second World War also venturing into live action films such as Treasure Island (1951), The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Going on to develop series for television, an emerging medium at the time and subsequently theme parks around the globe.
In recent decades the tradition of Walt Disney animation has proved to be as vibrant and captivating as it ever was with creations that include, The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994) and of course Frozen (2013)
A magical museum with its own story to tell
Situated on Paseo del Prado the CaixaForum building is itself reason enough for visiting the exhibition, the building designed by Swiss architects Herzog de Mueron is as fantastical as anything that is on display within. A pair of industrial warehouses that were converted to an exhibition space between 2001 and 2007 adjacent to some of Madrid’s most impressive art museums and galleries. The ground floor seems to levitate, apparently disconnected from its surroundings, crowned by a new volume clad in metal panels that contrasts with the green vertical garden positioned adjacent.
An exhibition that can be appreciated in many different ways
Visitors can experience the exhibition in a number of ways, either wandering the various gallery spaces on their own, with an audio-guide or a physical guide who can be booked in advance in order to give a greater in-depth background to the drawings and art works. One of the exhibition spaces, Once upon a time is laid out specifically for families exploring in a more intimate manner the various different ways of telling, seeing, listening, creating and representing stories. Alternatively for groups of up to 30 a guided visit is combined with a discussion afterwards looking at some of the themes explored through the exhibition.
Disney, the art of story telling is a great family activity; there is something in this exhibition for everyone whether you are 5 or 105 years of age. Whatever advances have been made in technology and computer animation what remains unchanged over time is the power of the story to captivate the imagination, to entertain and to teach valuable life lessons.
For clients of CaixaBank entrance to the exhibition is free of charge, simply produce your bank card for access. For everyone else general access costs 4 Euros with tickets available for purchase online, the various separate activities included within Disney, the art of story telling can also be reserved online, but be warned that advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
Accommodation & Transport
Both hotels The Principal Madrid Hotel and Hotel Único Madrid provide a great base for visiting Madrid, its galleries and museums and all the exhibitions that are regularly accommodated there. The best way to reach the CaixaForum Madrid from either hotel is on foot, a journey that will bring you on a walk along one of the most beautiful avenues in the world, lined with some of the world’s most extraordinary museums, art galleries and the finest architectural patrimony of Spain’s capital city. A list that includes the iconic Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Borenemisza National Museum, the Palacio de Cibeles (now known a CentroCentro) and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
The beauty and art of Madrid’s gastronomic culture can also be found in the cuisine of one of Spain’s premier chefs, Ramon Freixa. For the ideal accompaniment to a busy day’s sight seeing we recommend either the informality of Ático Madrid (The Principal Hotel) or for a more special occasion Ramon Freixa Madrid (Hotel Único Madrid), where food magic really does come true!
Photo by © CaixaForum