Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Picasso Seizes Donald Duck
Holly Crawford
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of Essex
Thesis Supervisor
Neil Cox
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Peter H. Selz
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Art History and THeory
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Chinese, French
URL where full thesis can be found
Pop art, Winnicott, Freud, Pollock
Abstract: 200-500 words
An analysis of the more than eighty contemporary artists who have used Disney images within the theoretical framework of Griselda Pollock’s Gambit, psychiatrists Mel Roman and Peter Stastny’s application and extension of Winnicott’s transitional object to the extraordinary relations of artists to their work, and a visual application of Freud's analysis of humor. Disney used new technology to create a new art form, animated cartoons, in the 1930s, and, via mass media, to elevate the anthropomorphized cartoon animals epitomized by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to celebrity status. He originally produced an optimistic feisty underdog mouse and berserk duck, along with an abundance of objects for an emerging consumer economy. In the 1950s, using the new technology of television to screen the Mickey Mouse Club and the opening of Disneyland, Disney established the Mouse as an icon of corporate success and American culture. Disneyland, and later Disney World, was praised by architects as a possible vision of a better future. The resurgence of the Mouse in the mid-1950s induced Pop artists to appropriate his image, importing his humorous connotations, and nostalgically depicting the feisty, underdog Mouse of their childhood rather than the emerging images produced for Disneyland and the Mickey Mouse Club. Their work reflected their attachment, and found acceptance with viewers and buyers for the same reason. Referencing globally popular cartoon figures while expressing nuanced differences from Disney proved to be a career gambit that assisted the success of these artists. Later artists referenced both the stable iconic Mouse as well as the work of earlier artists. They addressed many issues through both portraiture and narrative works. Critics now assailed the established iconic Mouse as a symbol of corporate consumerism and American cultural imperialism, and artists visually expressed the dark (domination and excess) side of the Mouse rather than that of the plucky individual striving for abundance.