Art and Flair of Mary Blair by John Canemaker

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Features, The Disney Review

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Published on June 14, 2014 at 12:15 am with 4 Comments

George: Mary Blair is one of the more well-known artists to come out of the Disney Studios. Granted she had a career as a water colorist well before working for Disney but really came into her own after the goodwill trip to South America with El Grupo. If you ask most people Mary Blair would be the most recognizable name, most likely for the work that she did on It’s A Small World for the New York World’s Fair. As another litmus test you could probably throw her name in a hat with some of the Nine Old Men and most people still with think of Mary Blair first.


Jeff: There is no denying how iconic Mary, and her art style, is. In fact, the Walt Disney Family Museum currently has an exhibit running showcasing her work (and it’s amazing). And it’s because of that exhibit that we have a re-release of The Art & Flair of Mary Blair. Just a few short weeks ago, the original version of this book was going for hundreds of dollars on Amazon. But thankfully, for those of you who missed out on it during its initial run (such as myself), you have a chance to pick it up at a much more reasonable price.


George: The Art & Flair of Mary Blair is almost a perfect book for Mary Blair fans, whether they’re beginners or have enjoyed her art for years. John Canemaker is an animation historian par excellence and is assuredly the best person to write this book. John takes a light hand with the history but offers a surprising amount of artistic criticism of Mary’s work in relation to her career as an artist. John doesn’t gloss over anything but he does a wonderful job of distilling years of studying (and teaching) animation into a very understandable format. You will learn a lot about Mary but the real treasure, as expected, is her artwork.


Jeff: Since the book is so affordable now, I feel as if I need to buy two: one for reading, and the other to cut some of the artwork out and frame on the wall. The art is that good. I mean, if you’re a Disney fan, chances are you’re a big Blair fan as well. But for those of you who aren’t yet, you will be. The book showcases a lot of her more famous pieces, but also some obscure ones as well. It’s great to see a little peek behind some of her work, and she were she was in life when she was working on certain things.


George: The book is divided into the different careers in her life: pre-Disney, Disney, post-Disney and Disney redux. Canemaker selects a fantastic, yet woefully limited, collection of her art from her differing projects. You can see her growth and how she developed her iconic style over her career. Many of the photos are provided courtesy of Mary’s friends and fellow artists; I do wonder what it’s like to own an original. I agree that this is definitely a must-have, considering how it straddles so many different aspects of Disney and art in general.


Jeff: Like George just said, it has a woefully limited selection of her art. And to me, that’s the biggest drawback. I would absolutely love a 500 page coffee table book just filled with Blair’s work. Alas, I am happy that this book does exist (and at a reasonable price again!) for me to stare at it for hours. I think this, and it’s companion book, Magic Color Flair: The World Of Mary Blair, make for a fantastic collection of Mary’s work.


Are you going to add this one to your collection? Do you have a favorite Mary Blair-inspired film?

By Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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Comments for Art and Flair of Mary Blair by John Canemaker are now closed.

  1. So is it essentially the same book as the original release? I have the original book and wonder if it’s work getting the re-issue. Thanks.

    • i’m sure it’s been updated with all the work she’s done since the last edition.

      • All the work Mary Blair’s done since the last edition? How can that be when she’s been dead for over 35 years?

  2. Sarcasm alert ^