April 23, 2014 posted by

BOOK REVIEW: John Canemaker’s “The World Of Mary Blair”

blair-spreadClearly one of the 20th century’s most influential artists and illustrators, to both Disney animators and the field of animation in general, was Mary Blair.

In 2003, John Canemaker wrote the definitive illustrated book on Blair (The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation) and a few years ago – at the request of the late Diane Disney Miller – Canemaker was asked to curate an exhibit of her originals, to tell her story again through her work.

That exhibition is on now (through September 7th 2014) at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco – and you if haven’t visited this museum yet YOU REALLY NEED TO – this is a perfect “retrospective exhibition” to go with it. Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair is the name of both the exhibit and of Canemaker’s new book.

The new book is essentially the catalog of the exhibit. The question is, if you have Canemaker’s previous book do you really need this new edition? I’ll answer in several ways. Yes – if you enjoy or study Mary Blair’s art and can’t get enough. Yes – if you enjoy Canemaker’s thorough research, writing and his perspective on Blair’s life and work. And Yes – you’ll want it the moment you see it in person and browse some of the oversized pages. It’s the “coffee table” art book treatment Blair’s art always deserved. It’s simply gorgeous.

Canemaker selected the art, organized its arrangement and wrote a lengthy essay that fills the first 30 pages of this volume. It is a beautiful authoritative appreciation of Blair; her style, her influence and her importance. With an obvious emphasis on her Disney work, Canemaker goes beyond that to explore her later work with Golden Books, on murals, greeting cards and fabric designs; a double page spread of photographs from her 1962 Bonwit Teller (5th Ave., NYC) paper-sculpture window displays is a particularly rare treat.

Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair is a publication of the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, exquisitely produced by book packager Weldon Owen (scroll below to get an idea of the layouts). It’s the final word on the subject; a wonderful tribute to one of the greats. I’m absolutely delighted to have it.

How did Mary Blair not get credit for The Little House (1952)

Sing along with this edited version of Once Upon A Wintertime (1948)

1 Comment

  • Thanks, Jerry. I’ve been wondering how different this book was from the original. I can’t wait to see the exhibit!

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