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Besides art used in film for emotional purposes, its uses for visual effects is priceless.

In the famous Disney movies Mary Poppins (1964) and Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), matte paintings were used for many of the scenes. Oftentimes, the paintings were easier, cheaper, and held better visual effects for the directors and producers. Walt Disney greatly admired the skill and “befriended [famous matte artist] Peter Ellenshaw and utilized his services on all … Disney features both as matte artist and a key collaborator in the design process” ( Ellenshaw, along with his team of matte artists Jim Fetherolf, Deno Ganakes, and Albert Whitlock, were well known for their brilliant contributive paintings to Disney movies and even won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for the movie Mary Poppins. Art and film working together perfectly for the timeless continued viewing pleasure of millions of youth and adults alike!

While some viewers find humor in the twisted and perverse, more traditional sense of humors can find laughs with the use of the sculpture near the financial district in Lower Manhattan New York City. “The Charging Bull … near Wall Street... Standing 11 feet tall and measuring 16 feet in length, the oversize sculpture depicts a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge” ( In the 2005 chick flick, Hitch, starring Will Smith, the director had fun with the serious bull by filming a scene under the back side of the bull symbolizing that the male character opposite of Eva Mendez was a gigantic ass. The Charging Bull was also used in the 2010 film The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. In the film, Nicholas Cage portrays a sorcerer trying to save the world while hurriedly training an apprentice. During a magical showdown, the bull is brought to life to attack the sorcerer. The sculpture in this instance represents power, brute strength, and intimidation. Whereas the normal stance is a aggressive crouch as if it is going to charge the financial district, the movie injects a literal aspect to the bull making it an evil character in the movie.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

The Art Institute of Chicago and many of its paintings played a minor role in the 1986 comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Three teenagers play hooky from school and plague the Chicago city streets as they blow off steam, challenge authority, and attempt to discover who they are and what their futures hold. The film’s director, John Hughes, purposely sought out the Institute to film there because of his teenage love for the art museum. All of the paintings in the film are personal favorites of Hughes including Edward Hopper’s 1942 Nighthawks, Henri Matisse’s 1917 Bathers by a River, and several of Pablo Picasso’s paintings such as The Old Guitarist, Nude Under a Pine Tree, and The Red Armchair. The painting that made the biggest impact on the neurotic character, Cameron, was A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Cameron acutely feels the lack of love from his parents, leaving what he perceives as an empty shell for his soul. Note the camera angles as he searches deeper and deeper into the Pointillism painting “the more he looks at it, there’s nothing there, he fears that the more you look at him, the less you see” ( While she is standing with her mother, the little girl in white seems to be alone, staring out of the canvas to a world beyond much as Cameron’s character does throughout his life.


In the film, 300, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller the historic warriors called Spartans fight to hold off invasion and domination from invaders lead by Persian ruler Xerxes. The dynamic cinematography, exaggerated characters, and abstract story line made for exciting filming with a Japanese art flair to it. Except for a few scenes, the entirety of 300 was filmed on a blue screen sound stage. Amazing digital scenes of nonexistent views added to the location authenticity of the film. Coffee was thrown into a napkin, filmed, and digitally tweaked to look like red blood flying from wounds making the fighting scenes explicit and raw. Huge gold sculptures added an attempted feeling of intimidation to scenes between the rival kings. Filming with sepia tones gave the historic adaptation a gritty feel to the often violent yet witty and well written story line. Art in cinema does not have to be one sided and predictable. It can twist, turn, splatter, and make the viewer gasp as they find themselves transported to another place in time where men took a stand and stood together to fight their oppressor in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Child's Bath by Mary Cassatt (1893) as seen in movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

To conclude this amazing journey through modern media, let us review. Art in all its glory can disgust, elevate, and drive mankind while titillating the senses and promote environmental causes. It can thrill a heart to pounding, make a stoic person cry, drive a person to distraction, make your hurt yourself with laughter, or stir sexual longings. Art can be found in every corner, in every vehicle, and in every home. Humans need the distraction and stimulation that art provides. Graphic design, Pop Art, photography, and digitalization just increase the realms that art can reach into. Art is not only paintings on the wall or interesting sculptures on a side table anymore. It is in your face, on your television, and popping up on your computer screens. Modern filmmakers, advertisers, and television producers realize this and take advantage of it to further their purposes. It is up to the viewer to decide what is right and interesting for them. Art will forever continue to expound, shock, and draw us to new highs and lows in the name of modernization and entertainment.

Works Cited A+E Networks, ed. "Salvador Dalí. biography & René Magritte. biography." Bio. True Story. A + E Television Networks, LLC., 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>. This site was used for research on both Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. The Art Institute of Chicago, ed. "About This Artwork." Art Institute Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>. This site was used to verify and research all paintings mentioned on slides 12, 13, and 16. Chen, Leslie. "These Libreria Norma Ads Feature Adam and Eve in the Modern World." TrendHunter Eco. Ed. Trend Hunter, Inc. Trend Hunter, Inc., 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>. This branch of the site was used for slides 5 and 6.