Mary Blair Exhibit Announced for Spring 2014 in San Francisco

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco has officially announced their much anticipated tribute to the pride and joy of McAlester, Oklahoma: Mary Blair. Titled “MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: The World of Mary Blair,” the exhibit will be on view between March 13 and September 7, 2014.

Curated by animation historian and Blair biographer John Canemaker, the exhibition will feature approximately 200 pieces of artwork, spanning every phase of Blair’s artistic career. Her work will be organized into three major areas for the show:

“Learning the Rules”: Her student days at Los Angeles’ legendary Chouinard School of Art, and her fine art regionalist watercolors exhibited in the 1930s.

“Breaking the Rules”: Her artistic breakthrough with boldly colored, stylized concept paintings for classic Disney animated features during the 1940s and 1950s, including Saludos Amigos (1942) and Peter Pan (1953)

“Creating New Worlds”: Freelancing in the 1950s in New York where she became a popular illustrator for national advertisements, magazine articles, clothing designs, window displays, theatrical sets, and children’s books.

The museum’s current exhibit on Bambi production designer Tyrus Wong doesn’t shy away from showcasing Wong’s non-Disney work, and happily, the Blair exhibit will also cover a broad swath of her output, such as:

The exhibition includes Blair’s rarely exhibited student art, which was influenced by the illustrations of her mentor Pruett Carter, and her mid-to-late artworks from the 1930s as a member of the innovative California Water-Color Society which reveal an essential humanism and empathy for her subjects. The exhibition also showcases The Walt Disney Family Museum’s extensive collection of Blair’s conceptual artworks in gouache and watercolor—some of which have never displayed outside The Walt Disney Studios—that reveal the artist’s inexhaustible creativity in design, staging of imagery, visual appeal, and unique color sensibility. Also featured are original illustrations from several of Blair’s beloved Golden Books including I Can Fly (1951).


  • Nikolas

    I sure hope, especially with John Canemaker being involved, that there might be an exhibition catalog of Blair’s work!

    It would have been nice to have had small catalogs for the current Disney Family Museum exhibitions for Tyrus Wong and Bruno Bozzetto, but hats off to them for hosting those shows.

    • Jonathan Lyons

      An updated edition of Canemakers “Art and Flair of Mary Blair” will be released next May, probably in coordination with the event.

      • Nikolas

        I’m glad there will be an updated edition of “Art and Flair of Mary Blair” because the color reproductions in the 2003 book were very poor. Also, the earlier edition didn’t cover her children’s book illustration, so hopefully this updated version will feature some examples of that aspect of her career. Blair deserves a better representation of her work.

        • dt

          The Japanese exhibition book on Blairs work (Colours of Mary Blair) far exceeds anything out there at the moment and i Have Canemakers book, (which is a nice introduction to her)…A brief bio and the rest of the book is just beautiful images…its definitely the best book of her collected paintings so far

  • Nikolas

    Thank you for taking the time to update the info about the new book reprint. I shall definitely be buying a copy. :)