Mary Blair had a very dear place in Walt Disney's heart, she may have been Walt's favorite artist. She helped to influence Peter Pan, Alice and Wonderland, and Cinderella. What was it that Mr. Disney appreciated so much? Well, when he set out to create an animation studio, his inspiration came from realists. He liked Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton and Gustaf Tenneggren, explains historian John Canemaker in his book “The Art and Flair of Mary Blair.”
Blair was definitely not a realist. She embraced bold colors, abstracted shapes, and embellished characters. She was Disney's modernist – the company's flair of eccentricity.
“Her vibrant colors and stylized designs pervade Disney animated films from 1943 to 1953,” writes Mr. Canemaker. “Beneath her deceptively simple style, lies enormous visual sophistication and craftsmanship in everything from color choices to composition.”
“Her most distinctive factor is that she is kind of showing us her soul,” Mr. Giaimo added. “It is not just slick commercial art, it is the combination of commercial and the personal in the artistic sense. She puts herself into her art work and it transcends the greatest of the Disney movies.”
In fact, you can still see Blair's style shining through modern animated movies. Pixar producer Jonas Rivera says that Blair deeply influenced the design for 2009's “Up.”
Do you like Mary Blair's work? I sure do!