The Art and Legacy of Mary Blair

If you don’t know who Mary Blair is, then it’s time you learned.

maryblair_exhibition_portrait

We all know and love her work, even if we don’t all know her name. For many of us, she shaped our childhood. Her way of viewing the world and the creativity she held defined an era. She, in short, is incredible.

An Era of Disney

Ms. Blair worked as a concept artist for Walt Disney during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. She worked on such films as Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland. Her modern art style brought Disney into a new visual era. And in an industry primarily run by men due to the era in which she worked, she does truly stand out.
o-ALICE-900Thanks to her, we have the iconic appearance of characters such as Captain Hook and the entire color styling of Peter Pan.

Her Legacy in Disneyland

When “It’s a Small World” was developed, Disney turned to Ms. Blair for the inspiration of the ride. Bringing forth her beautiful paintings into a three-dimensional world, nothing short of an iconic ride was created (albeit alongside a song you will never get out of your mind).

slide_342214_3537635_freeShe was never entirely credited regarding the full extent of her influence in Disney, but in these recent years she has begun to receive the recognition she so deserves.

Her marriage and her death

Ms. Blair, who worked primarily in gouache, was married to watercolorist and fellow Disney employee Lee Blair, who won an award for his work in Fantasia. They wed in 1934 and were married for 44 years until her death in 1978. In this modern era, she is being recognized for the skill that even Mr. Disney himself admired in her. And many of us have her to thank for the beauty of the Disney movies we grew up with. The movies that shaped our imagination.

slide_342214_3537639_freeI know that personally, Ms. Blair has influenced the way I see the world through the films she helped visually develop. Do any of you feel the same? Are there any films that you know and love but didn’t realize Mary Blair was involved in?

further reading:

Walt Disney Family Museum: Mary Blair

Magic of Mary Blair: about Mary

Magic of Mary Blair: gallery

One Of Disney’s Most Influential Female Artists Finally Gets Her Due

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