I’ve been doing this blog for nearly four months now and no mention of Mary Blair (1911-1978). Well, that’s going to change. This week is going to be “Mary Blair Week” and I’ll be posting a piece of her artwork everyday for the entire week. There isn’t much Mary Blair in my book, but then again, there isn’t much Mary Blair in the Fifties Disney films either. Whereas artists like Tom Oreb and Eyvind Earle were able to get their work faithfully onto the screen, Blair’s work was usually relegated to being ‘inspirational’ and was too often interpreted (and watered down) by other artists. Her presence is strongly felt in some of the 1950s features, like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but more often than not, Blair has a subdued presence in the Disney films. This is in no way a criticism of her work, but the realities of the Disney studio were that she really didn’t get the opportunity to control the look of a film in the way that production designers like Tom Oreb, Eyvind Earle and Walt Peregoy did. If you’re looking for more Blair, look no further than John Canemaker’s excellent book THE ART AND FLAIR OF MARY BLAIR which covers her life and work in depth.
This first Blair image is a concept for THE LITTLE HOUSE (1952) and actually appears on page 65 of Canemaker’s book. The colors are off in the printing of that book though, and I think you’ll agree that the piece gains a lot when shown with accurate colors.