Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Go See Grim Natwick Art In Person!

Grim Natwick is one of my favorite animation stylists. He drew in a really personal style that stands out from the studio styles he worked in.

As animation grew more principled in the 30s and 40s, it also had a tendency towards being generic. Disney's powerful influence urged animators to draw in styles that were "animation style" and many artists' submerged their personal styles to fit in with the group. A few charismatic and confident artists resisted. Grim is one of them.

Grim's illustration for a children's book.

A portrait of an ink and paint girl. Grim had a drawing ability beyond many animators. He could have been a successful magazine illustrator. He must have loved animation!

Steve Worth has put together a great exhibit of Grim Natwick's art from Grim's own collection.

This is wonderful on 2 counts:

1) It shows not only great drawings by Grim himself, but also drawings by other animators he worked with. Production drawings, caricatures, gag drawings. It really gives you a sense of what it was like working at Golden Age cartoon studios.

2) It's a compacted history of the entire cartoon Golden Age period-from the 20s to the 60s. Grim was there for all of it and played some big roles. You can see this all arranged in chronological order at the archive and Steve will give you a personal tour and history lesson.

30s - Fleischer
This is my favorite period of Fleischers- the most purely creative. Grim's personal style is most evident in these cartoons. He created Betty Boop and did the best animation of her by far. After he left for the west coast, they began tracing model sheets and she never had the appeal or spontaneity that Grim gave her again.
mid 30s IwerksAt Iwerks' studio, Grim's style was still strong but was starting to be influenced by Disney's cutesy animation style. This picture of Neptune is pure Grim. It's just pouring out style and indiviuality!

mid 30s Disney
Wow. This seems like a complete waste of Grim's talents!

Late 30s FleischerYou can really see the Disney influence in these cute little girls. They are beautiful drawings and still more specific than the general animation style of the late 30s. Steve says these designs were rejected at Fleischer's in the late 30s in favor of more blanded out characters - Disney's great influence on the animation world did not encourage stylistic individuals like Grim.

40s LantzGrim's drawing style is less evident in a lot of his Lantz work, but he did some really funny animation there. That chicken is from my favorite Woody cartoon - Solid Ivory. Grim's animation is hilarious in what could have been a generic cartoon story without him.

He had trouble drawing Woody in the Lantz style and some of his funniest scenes are the ones that are most off model.
He seems to be resisting the generic west coast style.You can see some of Grim in here, but he's struggling to balance the studio style with his own. All his Lantz animation is fantastic and super fun.

50s-60s UPA NY I don't know much about this period, but I think Grim's 30s drawings have much more design and style than this artificial design movement is asking of him.
Anyway if you are in the LA area, get over to the Archive and treat your eyes to some great art and amazing history. And give Steve a massage - preferably with a happy ending! He's earned it.

2114 W Burbank Bl Burbank CA 91506