'The image of Mickey and other iconic art-historical images such as the Mona Lisa have been seen so often that they have become invisible. We have become blind to them, because they are too present in out environment. This could probably be an explanation for the borrowings, misure, reuse, quotations and tributes which have afflicted these two “images”-Mickey and the Mona Lisa-as if were necessary to remind us of their existence [...]. However, they do not belong to the same artistic and anthropological categories. To create images that are looked at but no already created, what already existed and had in a way been forgotten or become history, something virtually naturalized.

Much has been said about the critical attack launched by Pop Art when Andy Warhol in particular downgeared and serialized Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck [...]. But quite the opposite could be said, i.e. fundamentally Warhol did nothing more than pay homage to the exceptional plasticity of the Disney drawing and the infinite possibilities for metamorphosing a line which straight away appeared to be as much the result as the condition of reproducibility. Before even letting it be supposed that Disney was being criticized, Warhol suggested that he was a predecessor. Disney was already doing Warhol. Even more astonishing-and it is probably Pop artists who show it most obviously in borrowing Disney images-is the idea of their being reserves, spolia for re-use, that the images permitted. When American artists decided to plunder the immense stock of forms contained in the animated and non-animated films made by the Disney Studios, a powerful surge of representation was suddenly released. This was also the case with all the other insertion pieces of real objects on their canvases, the Italian Renaissance with its reintegration of ancient ruins in the facades of its palazzi or as painted mythological backdrops . . .
And, in effect, in the 1960s there was a kind of pillaging of the works of Disney as if they were an unlimited expanse of ruins, a kind of Monte Testaccio, drawings which had become heaps or remains, having fulfilled their function of amusing. Just as the spool of a roll of film becomes a nondescript object waiting to be destroyed after the film has been projected, Disney’s  printed or filmed images were no more than ruins destined to be forgotten, but finally given over to pillage as the artists of 20th century saw fit. It needed Pop Art and Figuration Narrative, for example, to preserve the memory and reactivate the dead images, which were by now unsuitable for visual consumption or play . . . This iconographic pillage by 1960s artists of the remains of what was the first enterprise to really create and distribute images on a global scale was comparable to a gigantic “ready-made” with the suggestion of recycling built into it. I have often thought that one could consider with profit Salvatore Setti’s reflections on the re-appropriation of ruins: “taking an esthetic view, due to excellence of the ornamentation and skillfulness of the creator of yore, the antique fragment contributes to the ennoblement of the church into which it is integrated; taking an ideological view, this re-use can be justified as it emphasizes and demonstrates the victory over paganism and, at the same time, implies awareness of the pagan origin of the object and an appreciation of its quality.” In the case of Disney phenomenon, it would really be the other way round. It is the “ancient fragment” of Disney which would be ennobled by being hung in a museum . . .'


Dominique Païni, 'Reusing Disney', in Once Upon a Time: Walt Disney: The Sources of Inspiration for the Disney Studios edited by Bruno Girveau, publisher: Prestel

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