Check out today’s New York Times article about how Shamus Culhane, an animation pioneer, hid his work in abstract expressionism in frames of Woody Woodpecker cartoons he created.
When you watch the Loose Nut, for example, you’ll get a few frames of honest to goodness art right after a steamroller goes through the door of a shed. Tom Klein, an animation professor at Loyola Marymount University who recently published his findings, likens the abstracts to Willem de Kooning. Looking at the cells separately, you can see why he thinks so.
Isn’t this amazing? That after all these years we can find hidden gems from people who perhaps were frustrated with what they were doing, yet had the courage to infuse their work with art for us to discover? I am still giddy with the news.
And more so, I come away with renewed respect for artists. How they simply cannot rein in their need to create and how sneaky some of them can be. It’s not a new story as artists have played visual pranks on us for centuries, but every time one is revealed, it makes the possibility of finding the next one that much closer.
And that’s one of the pleasures of art – to find the layers of messages, overt and covert, in any art form. Finding one in a Woody Woodpecker cartoon just makes me smile.
And another pleasure in art? Knowing that artists are sneaky little devils sometimes who I want to get to know more about.
Read More: That Noisy Woodpecker Had an Animated Secret (NYT)