CollectionsCinema Titan Ray Harryhausen’s Life and Work Celebrated in Scotland

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After delays due to COVID-19, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition on the pioneering and unparalleled work of animator Ray Harryhausen will be coming to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) in October. The landmark exhibition is part of the late filmmaker’s centenary celebrations, alongside the specially commissioned publication of Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema, written by Harryhausen’s daughter Vanessa.

Ray Harryhausen Medusa
Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) – Medusa model from Clash of the Titans, c.1979 Collection of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

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A thrilling and immersive exhibition on the pioneering and unparalleled work of Ray Harryhausen (1920-2012), the cinematic titan whose movies shaped the face of modern cinema will arrive at the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), as part of the late filmmaker’s centenary celebrations. Working in close collaboration with The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, the National Galleries are proud to present Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema, which will lead the reopening of Modern Two at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art from Saturday 24th October.

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Special effects

The exhibition is the the largest and most comprehensive yet of the art of the legendary stop-motion animator, who, working in the tradition of trailblazers such as Willis O’Brien, elevated the special effects field to an artform between the 1950s and 1980s, in movies such as Earth Vs the Flying Saucers, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. His work has been a major influence on that of film-makers from George Lucas and Peter Jackson to Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro.

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On display will be artefacts from his entire career including a young Harryhausen’s very first models such as his marionette inspired by the gorilla from Willis O’Brien’s film King Kong, as well as models from Mighty Joe Young, the first film Harryhausen and O’Brien worked on together and the movie which effectively launched Harryhausen’s career.

Ray Harryhausen on set
Ray Harryhausen on set with model of the Kraken from Clash of the Titans, c.1980 © The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

These miniature monuments to cinematic history are joined by a bounty of posters, memorabilia, never-seen-before photographs, storyboard illustrations and the drawings and art that inspired Harryhausen’s creatures and films, all taken from his remarkable collection.

The Academy Award-winning filmmaker’s life, work and boundless imagination will be told through an immersive showing of sights, sounds and shadows, which caters not only for steadfast film enthusiasts, but for visitors of all ages and interests.

The exhibition also traces Harryhausen’s unique connection to Scotland. Not only did Ray and his lifelong partner Diana have an affinity for Scotland, but Diana was also the great-great granddaughter of the Scottish explorer David Livingstone. One of Harryhausen’s final projects was designing a statue of the legendary missionary, which now resides in Blantyre.

Ray Harryhausen skeletons
Ray Harryhausen, original skeleton models from Jason and the Argonauts c.1962 © The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

Centenary Year

Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema is presented in collaboration with The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation (Charity No. SC001419) to celebrate what would have been his centenary birthday year.

As part of a series of events and initiatives under the banner #Harryhausen100, the exhibition will be accompanied by screenings, workshops, talks and more, bringing his creations to life once again and celebrating the legacy of the filmmaker who shaped cinema as we know it today.

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Vanessa Harryhausen, daughter of Ray Harryhausen and a Trustee of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, said: “Our plans to celebrate Dad’s centenary at the National Galleries in Edinburgh are so exciting; if he was still around, he would be so enthused by all the centenary celebrations and plans! It’s wonderful that we are able to display so much of Dad’s collection: the space at the Galleries gives us great scope to display as many of his models and artworks as possible, as well as personal items which have never been exhibited before.”

“We at the Foundation are thrilled to work with the National Galleries on displaying Dad’s collection and celebrating his legacy. He established the Foundation in order to encourage future generations to enjoy stop-motion animation, and we hope the celebrations and activities in Edinburgh will encourage fans of all ages to be inspired by his creativity”.TitanTitanTitanTitan of CinemaCinemaCinema

The exhibition will be accompanied by a specially commissioned publication written by Harryhausen’s daughter Vanessa, that provides a personal insight into her father’s career and life through to his retirement less than 10 years ago.

RAY HARRYHAUSEN: TITAN OF CINEMA
24th October 2020 – 5th September 2021
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two)
3 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DS
Tel. 0131 624 6200
Ticketed access only. Booking online from Wednesday 2nd September. 
www.nationalgalleries.org

Tickets: £14-12 (concessions available)
Free for Friends of NGS

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