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The Art And Flair Of Mary Blair: An Appreciation

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For more than a dozen years, an unassuming, quiet-spoken woman dominated Disney design. The stylishness and vibrant color of Disney films in the early 1940s through mid-1950s came primarily from artist Mary Blair. In her prime, she was an amazingly prolific American artist who enlivened and influenced the not-so-small worlds of film, print, theme parks, architectural decor For more than a dozen years, an unassuming, quiet-spoken woman dominated Disney design. The stylishness and vibrant color of Disney films in the early 1940s through mid-1950s came primarily from artist Mary Blair. In her prime, she was an amazingly prolific American artist who enlivened and influenced the not-so-small worlds of film, print, theme parks, architectural decor, and advertising. At its core, her art represented joyful creativity and communicated pure pleasure to the viewer. Her exuberant fantasies brimmed with beauty, charm, and wit, melding a child's fresh eye with adult experience. Blair's personal flair comprised the imagery that flowed effortlessly and continually for more than a half a century from her brush. Emulated by many, she remains inimitable: a dazzling sorceress of design and color.


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For more than a dozen years, an unassuming, quiet-spoken woman dominated Disney design. The stylishness and vibrant color of Disney films in the early 1940s through mid-1950s came primarily from artist Mary Blair. In her prime, she was an amazingly prolific American artist who enlivened and influenced the not-so-small worlds of film, print, theme parks, architectural decor For more than a dozen years, an unassuming, quiet-spoken woman dominated Disney design. The stylishness and vibrant color of Disney films in the early 1940s through mid-1950s came primarily from artist Mary Blair. In her prime, she was an amazingly prolific American artist who enlivened and influenced the not-so-small worlds of film, print, theme parks, architectural decor, and advertising. At its core, her art represented joyful creativity and communicated pure pleasure to the viewer. Her exuberant fantasies brimmed with beauty, charm, and wit, melding a child's fresh eye with adult experience. Blair's personal flair comprised the imagery that flowed effortlessly and continually for more than a half a century from her brush. Emulated by many, she remains inimitable: a dazzling sorceress of design and color.

30 review for The Art And Flair Of Mary Blair: An Appreciation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jazz

    Mary Blair's art is full of mood and tension, whimsy and joy. It is a shame Blair's name is not synonymous with Disney because her designs are what made the Disney Golden Age iconic. It is doubly a shame that Walt Disney put up with animators changing Blair's designs more than he would have liked until she had moved on to other projects. This book showcases many pieces of Blair's art including self-portraits, commercial advertising, Disney commissions, and concept designs for an unproduced Duke Mary Blair's art is full of mood and tension, whimsy and joy. It is a shame Blair's name is not synonymous with Disney because her designs are what made the Disney Golden Age iconic. It is doubly a shame that Walt Disney put up with animators changing Blair's designs more than he would have liked until she had moved on to other projects. This book showcases many pieces of Blair's art including self-portraits, commercial advertising, Disney commissions, and concept designs for an unproduced Duke Ellington musical Cole Black and the Seven Dwarfs (can anyone still make this happen?).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Carney

    An interesting and quick casual read, divulging the life and art of often under-appreciated and under-recognized Disney concept artist Mary Blair. The beautiful pages display numerous pieces of art and critique them in eye-opening language. The text is honest - even depressingly so - about Mary's lack of recognition & sad demise. I am given a new appreciation for her art - in the three dimension at Small World and the Contemporary, as well as a great fashion collection by Pin-Up Girl Clothin An interesting and quick casual read, divulging the life and art of often under-appreciated and under-recognized Disney concept artist Mary Blair. The beautiful pages display numerous pieces of art and critique them in eye-opening language. The text is honest - even depressingly so - about Mary's lack of recognition & sad demise. I am given a new appreciation for her art - in the three dimension at Small World and the Contemporary, as well as a great fashion collection by Pin-Up Girl Clothing, "The Magic of Mary Blair."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tisha (IG: Bluestocking629)

    This book is perfect for anybody that enjoys art, loves Disney and/or likes biographies. While Mary's art is not necessarily the type of art I would flock to in an art museum I still thoroughly enjoyed looking at her creations (it is mostly Disney after all!) and reading the background that one along with each one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kaci Pelias

    i’m absolutely oBSESSED with mary blair and her work!!! this was a rlly beautiful mix of storytelling/history/illustrations/artistic analysis!!!! makes me want to look at her work forever and also read more books abt her!!! someone pls make a mary blair biopic

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I've been meaning to buy this book for a long time, and I guess that long wait is what put a dampener on this book for me. Don't get me wrong, it's about Mary Blair so I'd be excited to read it if it was the blandest book in existence; which it wasn't. It was just missing...something. I was expecting a sort of work focused biography, which this is not. The style of writing is not my favorite, fairly straight forward and factual, quite opinionated at times and got quite repetitive in the way he c I've been meaning to buy this book for a long time, and I guess that long wait is what put a dampener on this book for me. Don't get me wrong, it's about Mary Blair so I'd be excited to read it if it was the blandest book in existence; which it wasn't. It was just missing...something. I was expecting a sort of work focused biography, which this is not. The style of writing is not my favorite, fairly straight forward and factual, quite opinionated at times and got quite repetitive in the way he continuously complimented Blair & Disney over and over again, but also ending almost every project she worked on with "this was not the way Mary had intended it". All up though, I learned quite a lot and got to see some or her works that I have not come across before, also the behind scenes photos, especially at the beginning were a treat. If you're a Blair fan or enthusiast, I'd highly recommend this read, but probably don't expect a warm feeling Mary Blair bible with a wider range of her works as I seemed to when I started it. I'd give it a 3.5 stars if i could!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Mary Blair is the epitome of 1950s Disney for me. From her early work on Saludos Amigos all the way through the three feature films she worked on (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, respectively) she paved the way for Disney's attention to colour, shape, and texture, and was hugely influential in the way design is approached. I was hoping this book would go into more detail about where she got her influence, how she created, and what her vision was for her art, but it was more of a Mary Blair is the epitome of 1950s Disney for me. From her early work on Saludos Amigos all the way through the three feature films she worked on (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, respectively) she paved the way for Disney's attention to colour, shape, and texture, and was hugely influential in the way design is approached. I was hoping this book would go into more detail about where she got her influence, how she created, and what her vision was for her art, but it was more of a vague, top-down approach as opposed to supremely insightful. Don't get me wrong - still very interesting to read, but didn't reveal anything to me that I couldn't have gotten from Wikipedia in a quick glance. Oh well, at least I have another pretty book for my collection now!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    I had heard of Mary Blair but beyond It's a Small World I didn't know any of her other works. I had wanted to read a book about her after visiting The Walt Disney Family Museum (they had quite a few in their gift shop), but this was the book that was available from my local library. It was not too in-depth, but a quick read with the highlights of her life story and artwork.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sally Anderson

    I adore Mary Blair and really enjoyed reading this and sitting with her paintings. I just wanted more! More examples of her work, more about her schooling and time at Disney and all the rest. I can't get over her brilliant imagination, thrilling use of vibrant color, and how whimsical her paintings are. She's such a huge inspiration to me as an artist and love having this on my shelf.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Theelmo26

    incredible is understood what the author wants to convey is a very complete book more than anything in its gramartical structure

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tess Sullivan

    Great illustrated bio-- I love animation & strong female pioneers of the field so it was a no-brainer. Perfect for like minded individuals!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joellen

    I love Mary Blair. This will be a book that I will be pulling off of the shelf again in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Nicely formatted book, and great images (of course). Canemaker's accounts of Blair's work and life felt quite glossed over and superficial , however, and I get the impression that there is a lot more he could have expanded on. Other reviewers criticised the book's lack of detail about Mary's work that wasn't affiliated with Disney, such as her children's books, and I agree that that would have given Art and Flair a bit more depth and dimension. I get that Disney was an integral part of her life Nicely formatted book, and great images (of course). Canemaker's accounts of Blair's work and life felt quite glossed over and superficial , however, and I get the impression that there is a lot more he could have expanded on. Other reviewers criticised the book's lack of detail about Mary's work that wasn't affiliated with Disney, such as her children's books, and I agree that that would have given Art and Flair a bit more depth and dimension. I get that Disney was an integral part of her life and career, but there's still scope for a lot more additional material about Blair's life and work. Maybe I should have looked for an autobiography instead? I would have liked a little more about Blair's work on Alice in Wonderland, but that's just a bias :p

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I knew that Mary Blair's illustrative work in books shaped my views on art in my childhood, but I was an adult for quite a while before I realized that it was her work that I admired so much in a few of Disney's movies. This absolutely gorgeous book is an introduction to who Mary Blair was as a person -- not a biography. The writer glossed over aspects of her personal life to bring out a love-letter to Blair's artwork. Page after page is filled with full-color reproductions of her staggeringly b I knew that Mary Blair's illustrative work in books shaped my views on art in my childhood, but I was an adult for quite a while before I realized that it was her work that I admired so much in a few of Disney's movies. This absolutely gorgeous book is an introduction to who Mary Blair was as a person -- not a biography. The writer glossed over aspects of her personal life to bring out a love-letter to Blair's artwork. Page after page is filled with full-color reproductions of her staggeringly beautiful work. If you want a biography of Mary Blair, this is not the book for you. If you want to get lost in her lush artwork, this is definitely the book for you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gijs Grob

    Compared to other books by John Canemaker, 'The Art and Flair of Mary Blair' is remarkably shallow. It fails to dive deep into either Mary Blair's life or into her art. Canemaker must have realized this himself, as he calls the book humbly 'an appreciation'. The book, of course, contains spectacular artwork, as Mary Blair's work is often no less than gorgeous. But many of the reproductions are disappointingly small, while the text only reveals at the very end that Blair's life may have been more Compared to other books by John Canemaker, 'The Art and Flair of Mary Blair' is remarkably shallow. It fails to dive deep into either Mary Blair's life or into her art. Canemaker must have realized this himself, as he calls the book humbly 'an appreciation'. The book, of course, contains spectacular artwork, as Mary Blair's work is often no less than gorgeous. But many of the reproductions are disappointingly small, while the text only reveals at the very end that Blair's life may have been more tragic than expected. I'm glad a book exists on Mary Blair's artwork, but this book makes only hungry for more...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    As soon as I opened this book and looked at the art memories came flooding back to me of art that I saw in my childhood from movies and books. I loved the colors , the designs especially of It's a Small World, Peter Pan and Cinderella. I was fascinated by the biography of this artist and also saddened by her life story and her husband which was so affected by alcoholism. Such talent , such tragedy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    The art is absolutely fantastic, a look into mary Blairs under appreciated ( until her recent anniversary dedications) work in a most magical light. The author discusses her life's accomplishments and set backs, namely due to the times, allowing an appropriate amount of time for everything but the ending of her life. However, this being an art book and not quite a biography, the balance was appreciated. Great book, FANTASTIC art.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Everyone should know about Mary Blair. Chances are you already do but you just don't realize it. This is a cool book about an often missed but very famous Disney animator and designer. She has done a lot for the way people paint these days (a lot of the pop surrealism movement seems heavily influenced by her) plus she had an amazing sense of color and design and an even more fascinating sense of light and dark.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kyle M.

    This book was clearly funded from sources that had their best interests in mind.... let me put that differently... it was single minded. Great work is exhibited but the vast amounts of Mary Blair's illustrations are mot represented. What about her children's book career? Disney did a good thing by putting this out but next time please don't be so myopic. Reading it was a rush at first, then a drag.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Machines

    This was a great insight into the work of Mary Blair. As a Disney fan I would consider this a must read. At times I felt it might have been a little bit over my head as I do not know much about art or many of the artists they mentioned, but overall I thought it was a great book that had me looking at different aspects of Mary's work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I was very happy to see that this retrospective did not simply cover Blair's time with Disney but showed her work outside that arena- before, during and after. Her watercolors are outstanding and her commercial work strong. A bit sparse on words, but chock full of wonderful imagery. The forward left much to be desired. Altogether, stunning.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Schuttler

    I am a big fan of Mary Blair's artwork. I did not realize that she had created all the art for It's a Small World. I liked the parts of the book that mentioned her life and where and why she did her projects. I was not a big fan of all the information on the technical aspects of her work.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Kay

    Such a beautiful set of artwork from an amazing woman. I appreciate that Canemaker doesn't gloss over Blair's problems (her alcoholism especially), but still focuses most of his attention on her work. Simply stunning.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angela Joyce

    Beautiful, fascinating, a bit sad at the end but the gorgeous work remains and that's what matters now, I suppose. I wish they would uncover those hidden murals of hers at Disneyland...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan Steeves

    Second time reading it, absolutely beautiful letter to one of the world's most whimsical artists.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kandise

    Lovely little book about a wonderful artist. It isn't a biography, but lends context to her work. Very Disney focused, as others have commented.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Mary Blair is AWESOME!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This could have been much better. Her home life was interesting as was her last decade. Too bad that was the last couple pages.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Celia Juliano

    Got this at the library after visiting the Walt Disney family museum. Not knowing much about Blair, this was a good introduction and a beautiful book filled with examples of her work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Mary Blair Rocks!!! I love her beautiful art!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophiaalmaria

    My favorite concept artist EVAR.

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