Mary Blair’s World of Color


You’ve probably been staring at that cute little girl and her fanciful world on Google all day. That doodle is inspired by the art of Mary Blair, who would have been 100 years old today. Blair, who is perhaps best known for her design of the It’s a Small World attraction at Disneyland, was feted with an exhibition from the Disney archives and discussion at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last night as part of the Marc Davis animation series. Davis’s wife Alice (who helped costume the children in the classic attraction) was on hand to talk about her friend, who passed away in 1978. The Academy screened clips from films Blair contributed to, including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Saludos Amigos while contemporary animators including Oscar winner Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi (Toy Story 3) explained her influence on their work. Docter remembered that he first learned of Blair through his Cal Arts instructor Michael Giaimo (Pocahontas), who was also on the panel. Giamio provided a vivid description of his first exposure to the then-forgotten artist. He described discovering a new world inside a dusty old box hidden in the Disney animation morgue and his story unfolded with the drama and color of one of her paintings. This forgotten “Blair box” held character studies, background paintings and character designs that inspired Giaimio and continue to influence artists around the (small) world. Happy birthday Mary Blair.