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Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Presents ‘Magic, Color, Flair: the World of Mary Blair’

AMHERST — The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst
will present Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair. On view from
Nov. 10 to Feb. 21, this comprehensive exhibition explores the artistic
process and development of one of Walt Disney’s most original and
influential designers and art directors, Mary Blair (1911–1978).

Blair’s joyful creativity ― her appealing designs and exuberant color
palette ― endure in numerous media, including the classic Disney
animated films Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, as well as
theme park attractions at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World
Resort, most notably “It’s a small world.”

Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair is organized by The Walt
Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

John Canemaker — an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Peabody
Award-winning animator, historian, teacher, and author — organized the
exhibition to reflect the arc of Blair’s remarkable career before, during,
and after her years at The Walt Disney Studios. He relays her story
through original artwork, photographs, and ephemera.

Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair explores her boldly colored,
stylized concept paintings for classic Disney animated features during the
1940s and 1950s, and her successful freelance career in New York where
she became a popular illustrator for national advertisements and magazine
articles, as well as a designer of clothing, window displays, theatrical sets,
and children’s books.

The exhibition showcases The Walt Disney Family Museum’s extensive
collection of Blair’s conceptual artwork in gouache and watercolor —
some of which have never been displayed outside of California. Also
featured are original illustrations from Blair’s five beloved Golden Books,
including I Can Fly (1951) and The Up and Down Book (1964).

An imaginative colorist and designer, Blair helped introduce a modernist
style to Walt Disney and his studio, and for nearly 30 years, he touted her
inspirational work for his films and theme parks alike. Animator Marc
Davis, who equates Blair’s exciting use of color with Henri Matisse,
recalls, “She brought modern art to Walt in a way that no one else did. He
was so excited about her work.”

Disney played a significant role in Blair’s creative growth. His overall
vision of the world and values (optimism, humor, love of tradition,
families, and an avid interest in technology) were interpreted and
complimented by her creative contributions. He continually championed
her in his male-dominated studio, giving her free rein to explore concepts,
colors, characters, and designs that were outside of The Walt Disney
Studios’ mainstream animation style.

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