But is it (Fine) Art?: Thoughts on the Placement of (Pixar) Animation within the History of Western Art
Abstract: The clever end titles of Pixar’s WALL-E appear to subtly imply the justifiable position of this studio’s animation among the masterworks of Western art. At the very least WALL-E’s appearance within ancient frescoes and Van Gogh-esque landscapes bring attention once again to a debate, which found frequent voice in the 1930s and 1940s, following the successes of Walt Disney, but which has remained virtually dormant ever since: Does animation deserve a place among the history of Western fine art? This paper will explore this still relevant issue, while also addressing the opinions of Pixar artists on the subject.
Biographical Statement: Heather Holian is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Italian Renaissance Art History in 2001, and has an established publication record in the field. Additionally, Prof. Holian has begun to pursue research on the Pixar Animation Studios, while teaching “The Art of Disney and Pixar,” a course she designed. Her proposed paper springs from her art historical training, experiences in the field and classroom, as well as information recently gathered at the Pixar Studios. The current study represents her initial work on a book-length project.