Monday, 25 February 2008

Beasts and monsters: Kley

I recently went to the exhibition 'Against Nature' at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. The focus of the exhibition is sculpture as a medium for the depiction of metamorphoses and transformations - many of them merging animals and humans in a manner evoking classical sculpture. Read about the exhibition here.

However, the first artist I thought of when at the exhibition was Heinrich Kley, who is known mostly through his influence on animation. Kley's most famous subjects were legendary creatures such as centaurs, trolls and demons - his sketches were the direct inspiration for many of the sequences we see in Fantasia. Reflecting the advent of the factory age in which they were drawn, Kley's sketches also refer to smoke belching factories and industrial subjects. I've posted a selection of my favorite Kley drawings below; those with captions have them below the image. Apologies for some of the shadows in these scans.

And why shouldn't I play the guitar?

Sure I play the guitar, now all the more!

Away from Rome!

What a devilish stench!


This leads me on rather neatly to Albert Hurter, a Disney 'inspirational sketch artist' who was profoundly influenced by Kley. Hurter was payed to sketch all day; his drawings were used as the inspiration for Disney's animators. His subjects included animals and anthropomorphism; most interesting to me, though, are his drawings of inanimate objects given life and personality.

Fans of Hurter may be interested in John Canemaker's Before the Animation Begins, which provides a detailed account of the lives of inspirational sketch artists to work at the Disney studio, along with a selection of the work they produced while there. Another book on Hurter is He Drew As He Pleased, a book consisting almost entirely of sketches made by Hurter at the Disney studio. It's a wonderful book, but, printed in the 1940s, is now rather expensive; for samples of He Drew As He Pleased visit Brad Goodchild's blog.
To finish off, here are the Chats Fourres, or Law-Cats, from Francis Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. The Law-Cats are cat-like creatures that symbolise judges and lawyers, and 'live on corruption'. Below are depictions by Gustave Dore (the first four images) and W. Heath Robinson (the fifth and sixth images).


Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog Luke, glad you liked the Hurter posts...I love Kley also...

A Snow White Sanctum said...

I know this is an older entry for you, but hey man, this is a great post. I dig the comparisons with Albert Hurter's sketches.