The Golden Age of Warner Bros. Cartoons

An art and video overview of Warner cartoons' peak years of production.
Men who well may qualify as among the century’s great humorists... [who] made an invaluable contribution to the culture that only in recent years has begun to receive the outpourings of appreciation it deserves.
The Washington Post

“The Golden Age of Warner Bros. Cartoons” brings together over 150 original artworks, plus dozens of hours of video, to celebrate a legendary Hollywood animation studio, the rambunctious birthplace of characters who have become part of American folklore.

As noted by The New York Times: “Life in these United States would be inconceivable without the shared referent of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, The Tasmanian Devil, Tweety, Sylvester, Porky Pig, Pepe Le Pew and Yosemite Sam.”

Since 1930, the “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” of Warner Bros. have delighted audiences young and old with their wit and surprising sophistication.  Such Warner phrases as “What’s up, Doc?”, “That’s All Folks!”, “I Taut I Taw a Putty-Tat”, “Sufferin’ Succotash!”, “You’re Dethpicable!” and “Acme” have become part of the national vocabulary.

Originally shown in theaters — where they were already the most popular cartoons of their day — the Warner shorts developed new audiences on television. Most people under age 50 have seen these cartoons literally hundreds of times as they were growing up. Yet most are unfamiliar with the artwork from which these films were created.

Warner’s seven-minute cartoons repeatedly receive both critical and popular acclaim the finest, funniest and most culturally significant animated shorts to come from Hollywood’s classic period. In poll after poll — on YouTube, CNN, TV Guide, even Google Search — Bugs Bunny wins “The Greatest Cartoon Character of All Time” (or similar).

Further, Warner Bros. was the first cartoon-maker of any kind to be given a full-scale retrospective by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It was the first time that MoMA exhibited animation art.


About 150 drawings, paintings and related artifacts used in the production of classic Looney Tunes, plus video of the finished cartoons, interviews with Warner animators, etc. All of Warner’s main characters, as well as all the studio’s principal directors – including Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng, all considered giants of animated filmmaking – are richly represented.

Subject to availability, a larger presentation may be discussed.


The exhibition represents a unique opportunity for visitors to experience a museum-quality overview of originals from these classic films.

Highlights include artwork from the first true Bugs Bunny cartoon. The earliest known drawing of Tweety and Sylvester together. Artwork from the first appearances of Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, The Tasmanian Devil, Speedy Gonzales, Foghorn Leghorn and The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. A drawing of Pepe le Pew from his first definitive cartoon (for which Pepe won his Oscar).

Artwork from “What’s Opera, Doc?,” voted “the greatest cartoon of all time” in an international poll of critics and the first animated short selected by the National Film Preservation Board to be inducted into the National Film Registry of The Library of Congress.

More: A section with original production artwork that explains, step by step, how classical ‘cel’ animation is made. Ultra-rare sequences of drawings – of Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote – that break down how animation works.

Exhibition Materials

Artworks, captions, wall texts, graphics.


The exhibition is comfortable in anywhere between 2.000 and 4.000 square feet, divided into sections that include How Animation is Made and character-based displays. Museums are encouraged to add at least two video monitors, so visitors can see the finished cartoons as well as delight in the wondrous music, voices and sound effects that are among the glories of Warner animation.


  • Geographic location of storage: U.S.A.
  • All works are shipped framed as per international museum standards.
  • Collection includes the necessary international shipping crates and packing materials ensuring safe ‘nail to nail” transport.
  • Collection is comprehensive, covering a substantial part of the artist’s body of work making it capable of serving as a stand-alone exhibition.
  • Museum curators are provided with extensive information and may curate the exhibition to their specifications.
  • Collection may be expanded or complemented with art from the borrowing museum’s own collections.
  • Collection provides endless opportunities for the development of educational programs, which we can assist with.


LOONEY TUNES, BUGS BUNNY, TWEETY BIRD and all related characters, names and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros.

Within the last few decades, the Warner Bros. cartoon studio has earned both critical and popular acclaim as the producers of the finest, funniest, and most inventive animated shorts ever made. The Hollywood studio, which opened in 1930 and shut its theatrical division in 1969, developed and perfected the kind of antic, irreverent, street-smart humor that has characterized much of short-subject animation ever since. Along the way, the Warner shop won six Academy Awards, and created more cartoon stars than any other studio – in chronological order, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Pepe Le Pew, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, The Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Speedy Gonzales, and many others.

Originally produced for screening in theaters, the studio’s cartoons are now shown on television hundreds of times a day all around the world; its more than 1,000 titles constitute what can only be considered a library of modern folklore.

More so than any other animated shorts, the Warner cartoons have infiltrated the fabric of American life. Since the studio hit its stride, after the introduction of Porky Pig in 1935, its cartoons have never been less than enormously popular. In the heyday of theatrical animation, Warner cartoons were voted America’s most popular shorts for 16 consecutive years – from 1945 to 1960. Even now, some 80 years after his creation, Bugs Bunny continues to win major national popularity polls.

Such Warnerisms as Bugs Bunny’s “What’s up, Doc?,” Porky Pig’s “That’s all, folks!,” and Tweety’s “I Taut I Taw a Putty-tat!” have earned places in the national patois. And even such lesser turns as Sylvester’s “Sufferin’ succotash!” and Bugs Bunny’s jeered “What a maroon!” have entered the repertory – not to mention that mythical manufacturer of anything-a-Coyote-ever-needs called “Acme.” The influence of characters, styles of humor, notions of pacing, and narrative devices introduced by Warner cartoons can be felt in many corners of popular culture – film, television, and even literature.

Yet despite the cartoons’ popularity, critical attention during Warner Bros’ finest years of production was virtually non-existent. Cartoons – fast, funny, and anti-authoritarian – were never deemed worthy of serious consideration. In 1943, however, critic Manny Farber wrote in The New Republic about the Warner cartoons that “The surprising facts about them are that the good ones are masterpieces and the bad ones aren’t a total loss.”

All this had changed by the mid-1970s. With the help of an ally called television, the Warner cartoons, like Chaplin and Keaton before them, were massively rediscovered. Film students and critics were stunned by the cartoons’ sophistication and cinematic savvy. In major articles, Time magazine called the Warner cartoonists “some of the top film artists and pleasure givers of the past half century,” while The Washington Post described them as “men who well may qualify as among the century’s great humorists, [who] made an invaluable contribution to the culture that only in recent years has begun to receive the outpourings of appreciation it deserves.”

What differentiated the Warner cartoons can be summed up in the words of longtime Warner story man Michael Maltese: “We wrote cartoons for grownups, that was the secret.”

Under the early influence of the Disney studio, animation had virtually become a children’s affair, soft and sentimental and story-bookish. Warner Bros. turned this on its head, making cartoons that were brash and reckless and filled with topical references, bringing animation from never-never land into the thick of contemporary life.

With striking frequency, the Warner writers devised stories and gags of brilliant invention, while the studio’s directors executed them with masterly verve and timing. They, in turn, were supported by a cadre of gifted animators, painters, and designers. The result is a body of work that, with each new screening, seems richer and deeper, and more clearly a significant part of American culture.

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