(Book photos coming later today)
The Walt Disney Family Museum is home to some of the best Disney-inspired art exhibits that will make even the hardest core Disney fan cry. From Snow White and Tyrus Wong to Marc Davis, each exhibit seems to outdo the one prior. The museum’s newest exhibit–MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair–is no exception.
This exhibit features art from the incredible and world-renowned Disney artist, Mary Blair and runs through September 7, 2014. The comprehensive show of 200 pieces–from private loaners to the WDFM’s own extensive private collection–will give patrons the chance to see new and incredible rare art up close and personal.
Blair was known as one of Walt Disney’s personal favorite artists and her art even hung in his home. The exhibit showcases art from her college years, South American trip with Disney, her Disney years and post-Disney career.
The book Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair is a catalog of the exhibit, so if you aren’t fortunate enough to visit San Francisco to see the exhibit in person, this is a book is a great consolation prize because it includes every single piece so you won’t miss a thing.
The first 40 pages feature less art and more text, mainly a biography of Mary Blair. I liked learning about her childhood, college years, and especially her years after she left the studio. Blair’s husband originally worked for Disney and was chosen to go on the “El Grupo” 10-week research trip to South American with Walt, Walt’s wife and other Disney studio artists. Blair was able to convince Walt to let her join and while there, she developed her iconic bright and flat style that has become adored by generations.
After this biography section, we then proceed to page after page exploding with art. There is very little text during these sections. Instead you just get to visually absorb the art catalog, as if you were really there at the exhibit yourself. The art is arranged mostly chronologically, which is fascinating to see her progression in style as she matured.
The Mary Blair exhibit, while being presented by the Disney family, isn’t entirely focused on her time at the Disney studios and I appreciated that. This fact may disappoint Disney fans who want only to see her Disney-related art, but seeing her other work really made me appreciate her as an artist more.
That being said, you can’t help but love the concept art she did for the Disney films such as Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. She also contributed a lot of art to the package films of the 1940s such as Saludos Amigos and Melody Time. Her concept art for these films is so beloved by Disney fans now, it’s interesting how much of it never made it into the final products. For this reason, she was ecstatic when she was given creative control over the It’s a Small World project, which allowed her design esthetic and vision to come to fruition.
There is another Mary Blair art book in existence called The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, which is also written by John Canemaker. The book has been out of print for a while, but is being updated and re-released later this month. I haven’t read that book to compare the two, but will do a review of that book in a few weeks.
Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair is a beautiful book that put any reader in awe. Blair’s style is so unique and captivating, it’s wonderful that her work has been encapsulated for generations to adore. Whether you get the chance to visit the exhibit or not, Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair is worth the buy.
Magic Color Flair: The World of Mary Blair by John Canemaker: Amazon