The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 26, 2012

July 26, 1978

Remember the cat in Alice in Wonderland, and those in Cinderella, the films Disney made? They were bright and fat and striped and they are illustrations of the art of Mary Blair (October 21, 1911 to July 26, 1978). Last year Google reminded us of Mary Blair with one of their doodles on her birthday. Below we quote from an article the doodle in question linked to:

Her distinctive style, .... inspired several of Disney's early productions....[like] "Cinderella" or "Alice in Wonderland,"..."Her vibrant colors and stylized designs pervade Disney animated films from 1943 to 1953," writes animation historian John Canemaker, author of "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair."

"Beneath her deceptively simple style, lies enormous visual sophistication and craftsmanship in everything from color choices to composition."She graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles at an important time. The Depression loomed heavily over the art world. Blair set aside her hopes of being a fine artist and accepted an animation job at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She brought with her a strong background in watercolor, with its colorful tones and playful style. In 1940, she went to work for Walt Disney, who quickly assigned her to several big projects."Mary's unique color and styling greatly influenced [Disney's] postwar productions" reads the company's biography of her. Blair's keen eye helped craft "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Peter Pan."Color meant everything to Blair, and she experimented in ways that other animators dared not to. "Mary was the first artist I knew of to have different shades of red next to each other," remembered animator Frank Thomas. "You just didn't do that! But Mary made it work."After a decade at Disney, she left to pursue other projects. She illustrated a children's book, "I Can Fly." She designed advertising for Nabisco and Maxwell House. And when Disney wanted an attraction for the 1964-65 World's Fair, Walt himself "asked Mary to assist in the design of the It's a Small World attraction, which is pure Mary Blair in its style and concept," according to the company's biography. Like many of Google's past novelty banners, this one honors someone whose work is remembered well, even if her name has slipped away.

No comments: