A Largely Visual History of Animation: Part 2

Compiled By Erica Gorochow for NYU/ITP’s Commlab Animation class

“The only limitation in animation is the person doing it. Otherwise there is no limit to what you can do.” — Emery Hawkins

A “smear” — as a frame, this looks nuts, but in motion, it’s stylistically convincing

This is a personal index of artists whose work widened what animation could become. One of the reasons I love animation is that while it’s closely linked to technology, it’s ultimately tech agnostic. Sequential images flashing over time will always be at the medium’s core.

> Len Lye (New Zealand)

Painting directly on celluloid

Colour Box (1935)


Rainbow Dance (1936)


→ See also: Seminal avant-garde filmmaker, Stan Brackhage — MothLight

> Mary Ellen Bute (USA)

One of the 1st female experimental filmmakers. Specialized in visual music.

Synchronomy No. 4 (1938)


> Norman McLaren (Canada)

I’m such a huge fan of McLaren. He was fearless when it came to experimenting with new methods of animation. Worth digging through NFB archives to take in the breadth of his work.

Dots (1940) (note this is playlist — teased a few of my favorites out here)


Pen Point Percussion (1951)


Ler Merle (1959)


Neighbors (1952) (He named this process ‘Pixelization’)


Cannon (1964)


> John Whitney (USA)

Key figure in early computer animation. IBM’s first artist in residence. Worked with Saul Bass on Hitchcock’s Vertigo title sequence. Founded a company called Motion Graphics Inc. (!!)

Catalog (1961)


→ See also: Larry Cuba —Calculated Movements (Still feels pretty fresh).

Vince Collins (USA)

1970s and 80s psychedelic cel animation

Life is Flashing Before Your Eyes (1984)


> Jan Svankmajer (Czech Republic)

Surrealist, often dark, stop motion animator. Again, hugely influential to scores of filmmakers and animators today. (If you’re ever in Prague you can visit his home which is also a gallery he runs with his wife!)

Dimensions of Dialogue Part 1: Eternal Dialogue (1982)


Dimensions of Dialogue Part 3: Exhausting Dialogue (1982)


Excerpt from Alice (Feature) (1988)


Food (1992)


→ See also Brothers Quay — Street of Crocodiles (1986)

> Sally Cruikshank (USA)

Can’t help but to think early 90s Nickelodeon was born in the image of Sally.


> Zbig Rybczynski (Poland)

Animator and filmmaker who employed lots of different animation techniques, including cutting out celluloid frame-by-frame: “Compositing 1.0". A lot of his works deals with the manipulation and layering of synchronous time. In the early days of MTV, he made a bunch of crazy music videos.

Tango (1982)


Montage of several works (See youtube link description)


This list could go on and on… Here are a few more key players to check out: Jim Henson, Chris Marker, Art Clokey, Terry Gilliam, Mitsuyo Seo, Richard Williams

Part One: Early Animation History → Evolution as Art & Industry

Part Three: A Tiny Survey of Animation Today

This blog post was made with the help of wikipedia and those who have uploaded incredible clips to youtube and vimeo. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but if you feel something is wrong or grossly incomplete, please contact me @gorociao.