Walt Disney Museum Honors Badass Female Artist

Mar 21 at 9am

The Walt Disney Family Museum's current exhibit highlights the work of artist Mary Blair. Blair was a Disney designer and art director responsible for many of the bold, colorful paintings that were used to give direction to the animators working on Disney films including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. Blair's influence over the look and charming feel of all things Disney really can't be overstated. She was even recruited by Walt Disney to help design Disneyland's "It's a Small World"!


Mary Blair, "Birds and mice showing Cinderella her gown concept art," 1950; courtesy of Walt Disney Family Foundation

The "Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair" exhibit curator John Canemaker told the San Jose Mercury News that Blair was one of Walt Disney's favorite artists despite his male-dominated studio. Her rich legacy is unrivaled and many of the over 200 designs, paintings, drawings, and photos on display now have never been publicly viewable before. If Blair's paintings look extra familiar to you, it may be because she illustrated Golden Books during the 1950s and '60s.

                                   

Mary Blair, "Baby's House Illustration for Golden Book," 1950; courtesy of Random House

Mary Blair, "Alice looking at the White Rabbit's house concept art," 1951; courtesy of Pam Burns-Clair Family

Still, Blair's niece told the Mercury News that she can see how her aunt's work may have been ahead of its time and thus is being appreciated now, many years after Mary passed away in 1978. In fact, she said that later in life, when her aunt was living in Soquel, she took a portfolio to an ad agency in San Francisco and was told that her work was passé. For shame, unknown advertising agency. For shame!

Mary Blair, "Captain Hook's ship the Jolly Roger flying in the night sky concept art," 1951; courtesy of Ron and Diane Miller

This exhibit runs through September 7. Go see it, San Francisco.

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