Category Archives: Notes on Collecting Art

A Couple of Fine Lines: “Debonair” & “Au Contraire”

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From the hand of master animator and director, Eric Goldberg ("Looney Tunes: Back in Action!", "The Princess and the Frog") the Chuck Jones Galleries are pleased to present this exquisite pair of fine art serigraphs on paper.  Goldberg's innovative take on the classic characters immortalized by the legendary Chuck Jones strikes a balance between the classical world of fine art and the delightfully zany world of the animated film.  

 

Hand-cut, hand-pulled and printed at one of America's premier serigraph workshops, "Debonair" (Bugs Bunny) and "Au Contraire" (Daffy Duck) represent the acme of this centuries-old printing process.   Goldberg's beautifully rendered ink line has been carefully reproduced in an edition of 150 (18" x 10" printed on archival cotton rag paper) with 25 Artist Proofs (30.5" x 18" printed on fine hand-made Japanese rice paper.) 
Call today for more information and to reserve your "Debonair" & "Au Contraire" for your collection.  Also available online by clicking here.

 

Notes on “Watership Down”

Watership Down

In 1973, Richard Adams’ acclaimed novel Watership Down sold over 30 million copies.  Epic in scope and human in detail, the band of intrepid rabbits led by Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig strike out on an adventure in search of a new home.

Black Rabbit cel

Original production cels (gouache on acetate) on original matching background layout (mixed media on paper.)

 
In 1978, famed producer and writer, Martin Rosen (Women in Love) brought to the silver screen the much loved story of this group of rabbits.  Conceived, written and produced by Mr. Rosen, Watership Down the animated film was met with tremendous critical and audience praise.  (Four-time Academy Award-winning animators Faith and John Hubley [Moonbird, The Story of an *] developed and designed the opening fable sequence.)

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Original production cel set-up (gouache on acetate) for the opening sequence of "Watership Down" designed and animated by John and Faith Hubley. 

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Original production cel (gouache on acetate) from the opening sequence of "Watership Down". 

Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times said of the film, “An epic told with elegance, wit and persuasive detail.  It is lyrical, literal, very exciting, often very funny and entirely enchanting.  As it is the best scripted, so it must surely be the best acted animation feature of all.”

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Original concept art, mixed media on paper and acetate, for "Watership Down."

What is it about?  A city-state is doomed.  Cassandra-like, a visionary rabbit (Fiver) prophesies the coming calamity.  Together with a small but resolute band of fellows, he sets off for safety and some dimly apprehended place that he has seen in his dreams.  The little band travels across an immense landscape, meeting with strange and fearful adventures on its way.  Such a journey Odysseus made—and the comparison is not inapt.  This great adventure finds its ultimate fulfillment on Watership Down where, after winning battles and surviving harrowing ordeals, harmony is at last established and the future is assured.

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Original layout drawing, graphite and colored pencil on 12 field animation paper.

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Original production cel (gouache on acetate) with, from left, Silver, Pipkin, Fiver and Bigwig.


Such noted actors as John Hurt (Hazel,) Sir Ralph Richardson (Chief Rabbit,) Zero Mostel (Kehaar the seagull,) Denholm Elliott (Cowslip) and Nigel Hawthorne (Campion) provided the voice characterizations.  Art Garfunkel’s lyrical single “Bright Eyes,” from the soundtrack became the second biggest selling single in British recording history at the time.

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Original production cel (gouache on acetate) with photo-reproduced background with, from left, Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and Blackberry.

Watership Down is one of the best animated films since the heyday of Disney…the story seems to have slipped easily and delightfully on to the screen…the film is remarkably beautiful to look at.” –Financial Times, London, U.K.  

 

Chuck Jones: No Barking

NO BARKING

Considered by some
critics and authors to be one of Chuck Jones’ minor masterpieces, No Barking
took its bow (-wow) in theaters February 27, 1954.  Starring the nervous scavenger of love, food
and affection, Claude Cat, and the irrepressible Frisky Puppy, it details
Claude’s life’s pitfalls and pratfalls, highlights and lowlifes.  Making his only cameo appearance in a career
that began in 1942 with his début in Bob Clampett’s A Tale of Two Kitties
is that blue-eyed avian avenger, Tweety Bird. 

Tweety Bird was first
painted pink (until 1945’s A Gruesome Twosome, when one of the cats calls him
‘a naked genius’ tipping off the censors…) and starred in over forty cartoons
at last count, including the 1947 Oscar-winner, Tweetie Pie (begun by
Clampett and steered to Oscar glory by I. Freleng after Clampett’s departure
from Warner Bros.  Spellings of
Tweety/Tweetie vary from publication to publication and from film to film.)

Cameo appearances by
stars have a long tradition in the film industry and are one of the delights of
the movie-going public.  As unexpected as
it is to see Tweety Bird in a Chuck Jones cartoon, it is that very surprise
that tickles the viewing audience and creates a memorable film experience.  And not only does Tweety make a cameo
appearance, he also utters, that by then ubiquitous catch phrase, “I tawt I taw
a puddy tat!” as Claude Cat goes sailing past him to the wide blue beyond.

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 Uniquely animated by the
very talented Ken Harris, No Barking also was graced with the layouts of
Maurice Noble, story by Michael Maltese and backgrounds by Philip DeGuard.  Mel Blanc provided the voices with musical
direction and orchestrations by Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn (musical theme:
“Little Dog Gone”.)

Chuck Jones: Pussyfoot 1951

PUSSYFOOT 1951

Pussyfoot it may be to millions of fans, but to Chuck Jones
Pussyfoot had no permanent name, “…call [him] Everykitten.”   Jones continues, “All the kitten had was the
ability to love, so drawing him was comparatively simple.  A kitten’s ears are much bigger in relation
to the face than an adult cat’s, and as in all young mammals, his forehead is
very high.  I wanted him to be so darling
that you feel you must pick him up and hug him, which is precisely what I
wanted Marc Anthony to want to do.”

Pussyfoot first appeared in the short animated film, Feed
the Kitty
, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Michael Maltese.  It bowed (and me-owed) in theaters nationwide
on February 2, 1952.  Robert Gribbroek
was the animator and Philip DeGuard created the backgrounds.  Carl Stalling was the musical director and
with Bea Benaderet as the voice of Marc Anthony’s mistress.

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Pussyfoot 1951 is based upon one of two existing model sheets,
dated a year apart (1950 and 1951.) 
Although many people work on the creation of an animated film, the
characters are always consistent in their delineation because each person
drawing them had the character model sheet with different poses of the
character on it before him.  Directors
often provided more specific guides as well. 
Chuck Jones, for instance, provided several hundred key layout drawings
as well as drawing the model sheets himself. 

Pussyfoot 1951 has been created as a 16 field cel and in an
edition of 100 (with 40 Familial Proofs and 20 Hors de Commerce.)  It bears the authorized signature mark of
Chuck Jones and the holographic seal of Linda Jones Enterprises. 

Filmography for
Pussyfoot, all directed by Chuck Jones:

  • Feed the Kitty (1952)

  • Kiss Me Cat (1953)

  • Feline Frame Up (1954)

  • Cat Feud (1958)

  • Another Froggy Evening

    (cameo, 1995)

Chuck Jones: Bewitched Bunny 1954

BEWITCHED BUNNY 1954, a Golden Age
Edition
          

The Warner Bros. version of Witch Hazel (first voiced by Bea
Benaderet and then in subsequent appearances, to much acclaim, by June Foray)
bowed in theaters nationwide on July 24, 1954 in the Chuck Jones directed Bewitched
Bunny
.  Borrowing liberally from the
Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel (as well as Snow White), Bewitched
Bunny
continues Jones’ experimentation and innovation in character and
scenic design.  Using simple, yet
elegant, lines to delineate the complexities of character through visual
punnery (Hazel’s head ends at the brim of her hat, who can forget those
hairpins,) Jones confidently ups the madcap silliness quotient and verbal
swordplay between Bugs and Witch Hazel*.  

His unit composed of such stalwart talent as Mike Maltese,
Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Ben Washam and the inimitable Maurice Noble, were
equally up to the challenge of developing the stylistic and artistic
re-imagining of the animated short film. 
Since the release of The Dover Boys in 1942, Jones had been
noted, and often imitated, for his groundbreaking and imaginative use of shape,
color and movement. 

“When I began thinking about the character of Witch Hazel, I
first tried to imagine what the witches in Macbeth would look like, and
I decided that they were big.  Witches
also have hats, and Hazel has hers.  It
is an odd one.  I wanted the hat to be
shapeless and insubstantial, looking as if it might explode in a cloud of dust
at any moment…Her clothes cover her body completely, and I assume that she is
the same shape as the outfit she is wearing. 
When she went out, she put on bloomers and high-heeled shoes, which I
wanted to look like a drawing rather than a three-dimensional form.”

—Chuck Jones in Chuck Reducks, Drawing From the Fun
Side of Life

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Bewitched Bunny, created from an original
Chuck Jones layout drawing for the film, is the first in a series of Golden
Age
Editions art from Chuck Jones that will celebrate, in limited
edition and a variety of media, cartoons created by Jones during the
1950s.  Estate signed in gold ink along
with the hand signature of June Foray, this edition features a background
created from an original used in the production of
Bewitched Bunny. 

*Witch Hazel is the name of a North American shrub from
which a medicinal brew and an alcohol-based rub is made. 

Chuck Jones: June Groom

Here Comes the Groom

Twenty
years after the release of “Bugs & Bride ”, this Chuck Jones limited edition hand-painted 82542 animation cel is the fifth image he created celebrating the institution of marriage.  This time around, Bugs’ beloved has swept our
intrepid rabbit off his feet as they begin their new life together in the 21st
century.  Celebrate with them as they
head for their honeymoon suite at the Coachella Valley Carrot Festival Resort
and Spa!

The
line drawing for this limited edition was created by Chuck Jones and has been
serigraphically transferred to an acetate sheet.  Meticulously hand-painted by expert cel
painters, each of these cels are authenticated by the official Chuck
Jones signature-mark.  As was true of the
very first “Bugs & Bride”, this cel is accompanied by a hand-cut,
brocade wallpaper background.*

*In
1977, with the release of the very first limited edition hand-painted animation
cel, “Duck Dodgers Group”, by Chuck Jones, Linda Jones Clough began
to create the backgrounds which accompanied them.  These backgrounds, many collaged and
hand-painted, reinforced the essence of Chuck Jones’ character drawings.

Sometimes
using pantone paper and wallpaper at other times, Linda cut, glued, heat-sealed
and painted each of the backgrounds for every example in an edition for nearly
eight years.  Her backgrounds were the
perfect stages for the antics of the drawings created by her father.  The release of “Here Comes the Groom” and   “Carrot Cake” heralds the return of these special
backgrounds. 

Chuck Jones & Cats (not the musical…)

THE CAT PORTFOLIO

GC99I01 The cat has been domesticated
since ancient times.  Of the genus Felis, the common (and as we’ll
discover, uncommon) house cat, Felix
Sylvestri
(wherever did those cat names come from?), has been the visual
inspiration for untold centuries of artists, from the tombs of the Pharaohs to
contemporary society.   For Chuck Jones
it began with one cat.   

Johnson entered the Jones
household one foggy morning in 1918, carefully picking his way throughGC99I02 the sand
at Balboa, to stand looking up at their home requesting admission.  “He moved into our house that morning, bag
and baggage.  The bag was that cat bag
all cats live in, one of the few characteristics he shared with other
cats.  He sat fat and walked thin like
other cats, but the resemblance to other cats stopped there,” reminisces Chuck
Jones in his autobiography, Chuck Amuck.  “His baggage was what appeared to be a very
old, very used tongue depressor, fastened securely about his neck…bearing the
crude inscription…Johnson.”

Chuck Jones recalls that
morning because he realized that it marked a turning point in his perception  GC99I10 of
character and one of the most important lessons of animation:
individuality.  Johnson demonstrated for
Jones that it is the individual, the oddity and peculiarity of character that
counts.  In response to the question,
“Why do animated cartoonists use animals?” Jones has said that it is easier and
more believable to humanize animals than to humanize humans. 

“The Cat Portfolio” is a limited edition collection of 9 cats drawn by
Chuck Jones over a 50-year period.  The
ten fine art reproductions on paper (one cat is seen in x-ray as well) that comprise the portfolio are
led off by a drawing of Johnson, jauntily wearing three-quarters of a
grapefruit rind on his head like a space helmet.  “On such occasions he seemed to enjoy this
raffish adornment and would saunter out onto the sand, often with only one eye
visible under the overhang, a curious sight to many people, a delight to our
family, and a source of sheer terror to small dogs and old ladies,” Jones
continues in his autobiography.  And if
that weren’t enough, Johnson liked to swim in the ocean too.  

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5 Ways to Build an Entertaining Art Collection (and not get hit by a bus)

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They say you can take the New Yorker out of New York, but
you can’t make them drive.  In the case
of our very own, Joel Shapiro (sales manager at the San Diego Chuck Jones
Gallery,) no truer words were ever spoken. 
A graduate of Baruch College (CUNY,) he’s been an integral part of our
gallery since 1997.  Joel, who really
doesn’t drive (imagine living in SoCal and not driving!) has made San Diego his
own; by trolleys, by walking; to the beach, to the cinema and through the
search for the perfect pizza (still unfound, but the research, the
research!)

Joel’s been collecting art for nearly 30 years and agreed to
share with us his secrets for building and maintaining a collection of film-related
art.  His passion and deep appreciation
for the artists who create animated films, cinema campaigns and related artistic
endeavors is apparent in his collection. 
Filling his pristine apartment from floor to ceiling, each work is
lovingly cared for, exquisitely displayed and fondly remembered. 

Collecting Is
Personal

  • A
    collection is composed of memories—your
    memories.  Select each work
    because it means something to you. 
    In the case of animation art, let its action, attitude and
    personality be the key to your desire to own it.

  • Classic
    moments in animation create collections. 
    Whether it’s Bugs Bunny vs. Marvin Martian or Snow White singing at
    the Wishing Well—a classic moment will always engage the viewer

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  "Herr Loves Me, Hare Loves Me Not" Hand-painted cel art edition

  • Let
    your collection evolve: Over the years, Joel has allowed his collection to
    grow by letting the new, the unusual, and the unique spark his imagination
    and consequently his collection has developed a life all its own.  There is a core collection, but not
    unlike a tree with branches there is many a direction to yet explore.
  • Collect
    art that is in the present.  It is
    as important today as it was when it was made; whether 5 years ago or 50
    years ago it still has something to say. 
    Art collecting is a comment on the human condition.  It makes you laugh, it makes you cry—it
    is nostalgic and futuristic. 
  • Allow
    it to make you feel like a kid.  A
    collection is a reflection of your personality.  It is your heritage and your
    legacy.  There is an innocence
    associated with the art Joel collects that draws on his memories of more
    simple pleasures—Saturday mornings in front of the TV—trips to the movie
    theater with his family—that is inspirational. 

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"Win a Few, Lose a Few" Original Watercolor by Chuck Jones

The “How Not to Get
Hit by a Bus” Part

  • If you
    insist on walking everywhere, by all means look both ways before stepping
    off the curb.  Note to San Diego bus
    drivers:  Please be on the lookout
    for our Joel, picture attached.  (By
    the way, Joel survived, but the bus looked the worse for wear…)