The Animator’s Art

Free from commercial restraints, animators explore their art

After WWII, animation was increasingly recognised as a vital art form in its own right. Commercial work put food on their plates, but animators longed for creative freedom, and many production companies and determined animators created independent works in between paid gigs. Unshackled from commercial concerns, the resulting films were often daring in their pursuit of abstraction or personal expression. Meanwhile, many artists from other media have found that animation adds a vital new dimension to their work. But while such films were celebrated in their community they were rarely shown more widely. This collection showcases often hard-to-see examples of the animator's art at its purest and most individual.

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13 Cantos of Hell13 Cantos of Hell

Animation & Artists Moving Image195520 mins

Follow Dante through Hell in this progressive silhouette animation with a musique concrète soundtrack by talented sculptor Peter King

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Green Men, Yellow WomanGreen Men, Yellow Woman

Animation & Artists Moving Image19734 mins

Even Clark Gable doesn’t live up to his image in this off-beat cartoon about a woman fed up with the attentions of little green men

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Animated GenesisAnimated Genesis

Animation & Artists Moving Image195222 mins

Arachnophobes beware! This colourful allegorical abstraction of life from creation to near destruction casts greed as a giant spider

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Damon the MowerDamon the Mower

Animation & Artists Moving Image19724 mins

A stripped back animated masterpiece from the director of Yellow Submarine (1968), based on an poem by Andrew Marvell

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Animation & Artists Moving Image19701 minsSilent

If you were electrocuted by a photocopier in the 70s and your life flashed before you, it might look a little something like this…

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Boolean ProcedureBoolean Procedure

Animation & Artists Moving Image198023 mins

Innovative short that is equal parts Beckett, Gilliam, Orwell and life advice for the recently redundant. Yes, really.

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Two FacesTwo Faces

Animation & Artists Moving Image19684 mins

An abstract poetic tale that tells both one and a thousand stories of love and loss, by a designer on The Beatles Yellow Submarine film

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The WardrobeThe Wardrobe

Animation & Artists Moving Image19582 minsSilent

A fun minimalist cartoon with a delightfully absurd logic, from the director of Yellow Submarine

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New Computer to help AnimatorsNew Computer to help Animators

News19813 mins Location: Cambridge

Character animator Chris James, a Grierson Award nominee, chats to Anglia TV at the Cambridge Animation Festival in 1981

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Painter and Poet No. 1Painter and Poet No. 1

Animation & Artists Moving Image19519 mins

“An experiment in words, music and paintings” two poems are illustrated for the BFI’s contribution to the Festival of Britain

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The Pecking OrderThe Pecking Order

Animation & Artists Moving Image19895 mins

A beautifully painted animated critique of modern intensive farming methods

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Painter and Poet No. 2Painter and Poet No. 2

Animation & Artists Moving Image19511 mins

Surreal journeys, stormy seas and macabre surprises await in this “experiment in words, music and paintings” made for the Festival of Britain

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The MirocleThe Mirocle

Animation & Artists Moving Image197613 mins

It’s all me, me, me – this experimental animation on the Self wittily wraps up Jung and old philosophies in a clever Paul Klee-inspired design

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That NoiseThat Noise

Animation & Artists Moving Image19612 mins

Fall truly, madly, deeply in love with this animated proto-music video from Godfrey, Lacey and Newly

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Animation & Artists Moving Image19698 minsSilent

A film by an early British pioneer of computer generated filmmaking.

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Animation & Artists Moving Image198928 mins

A feminist collage/essay film that takes a critical look at certain feminist theories.

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Animation & Artists Moving Image19794 mins

What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? This dark, sultry cartoon encounter with a feline might leave you lost for words.

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Painter and Poet No. 3Painter and Poet No. 3

Animation & Artists Moving Image19516 mins

Henry Moore is among the contributors to this experimental mix of verse and illustration, commissioned by the BFI for the Festival of Britain

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The TransformerThe Transformer

Animation & Artists Moving Image19682 mins

All aboard! Step on the psychedelic animation train with this film festival promo from the artists behind Yellow Submarine (1968)

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John GilpinJohn Gilpin

Animation & Artists Moving Image195110 mins

The History of John Gilpin becomes even more diverting when paired with illustrations by Ronald Searle

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Animation & Artists Moving Image19701 minsSilent

What these guys would give for a floating house and some balloons… a short, sharp, animated statement on life’s struggles

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Muybridge RevisitedMuybridge Revisited

Animation & Artists Moving Image19865 mins Location: Fulham

Iconic images by photo-pioneer Eadweard Muybridge come to life in this striking video collage.

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Football FreaksFootball Freaks

Animation & Artists Moving Image19716 mins

Do not adjust your set! This off-beat jukebox cartoon is definitely more freaky than footbally

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Animation & Artists Moving Image19905 mins

Exploring the relationship between light and shade as expressed both in Nicholas Breton's (c1600) poem Time and Chopin's Berceuse in D flat.

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Love Is AllLove Is All

Animation & Artists Moving Image19994 mins

In a winter wonderland with Deanna Durbin and the queen of the snow. A fairytale for the future, this perfectly pitched monochrome affection will have you yearning with immaculate desire.

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Spirit of PlaceSpirit of Place

Animation & Artists Moving Image199210 mins

Well met by moonlight – room service for the spirit. A one-take dream in Cocteauesque monochrome.

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Amore BaciamiAmore Baciami

Animation & Artists Moving Image19883 mins

Animation based on the typefaces and scripts of the 1920s and 1930s set to an Italian song of the 1950s.

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Family TreeFamily Tree

Animation & Artists Moving Image19886 minsSilent

Green fingers produce blue hands. A surreal, brooding animation from a future Oscar winner