A brand new exhibition commemorates Ray Harryhausen because the titan of the cinema

Ray Harryhausen is known for almost single-handedly turning stop-motion animation into an art form in the second half of the 20th century.

The California-born filmmaker began experimenting with models as a teenager after spotting the work of special effects supervisor Willis O'Brien in the 1933 version of King Kong, which he viewed 33 times.

Ray Harryhausen with the Krakan, Clash of the Titans. All images © The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

From these early experiments, Harryhausen earned a reputation as one of the most brilliant filmmakers in cinema, which in turn inspired Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

Curated in collaboration with the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a new exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art celebrates the filmmaker's seminal life story and legacy.

The original skeleton models of Jason and the Argonauts, 1963

Launched to mark the filmmaker's 100th anniversary, the show features many of the original models miraculously brought to life on screen through Harryhausen's mastery of stop-frame animation.

These include the skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts (1963), the Cyclops from his Sinbad series, and the UFOs from Earth vs the Flying Saucers from 1956, which would inspire cult films like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. Jurassic Park and Pan's Labyrinth.

Ray Harryhausen with a skeleton model of Jason and the Argonauts

Also on display are the early models of a young Harryhausen, including a puppet inspired by the King Kong gorilla designed by O’Brien, and artwork from Mighty Joe Young, the first film Harryhausen and O’Brien worked on.

These miniature monuments of film history are joined by a whole host of posters, personal memorabilia, original photographs, storyboard illustrations, and drawings and works of art that inspired Harryhausen's iconic creatures and films.

Ray Harryhausen: A Titan of the Cinema is on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until September 5, 2021. nationalgalleries.org