compare the three recreated BG’s, they are all from disney productions. the first from the 1939 short PRACTICAL PIG, then 1942 BAMBI and the last 1953 PETER PAN. they all had different designers at their time, PRACTICAL PIG was heavily influenced by the children book style and their artists. like GUSTAVE TENGGREN who worked in the studio at that time designing characters and key-moments for SNOW WHITE and PINOCCHIO. but the influence came as well from earlier children book artists like ARTHUR RACKHAM, EDMUND DULAC and KAY NIELSEN, who worked shortly in the studio on FANTASIA. BAMBI finally was styled by a chinese/american artist TYRUS WONG, who worked in the studio as background painter. you can clearly see the chinese art influence, the simpicity and balance in his designs and in the final film. additional inspiration came from the german romantic painters, like LUDWIG RICHTER.
about a decade passed until PETER PAN was released, styled by legendary designer MARY BLAIR. she was married to LEE BLAIR ( brother of famous animator PRESTON BLAIR ) and both were well connected to the american painter scene, especially watercolor artists. LEE was a famous artist himself and you can see the influence of the art at that time in MARY BLAIR’S paintings. she herself influenced a lot of later artists, even today.
I know from JOE GRANT that a lot of the leading disney talent during those years had contacts to the art scene, JOE had friends in europe, especially germany. he showed me his collection of the first edition of the german political magazine SIMPLICISSIMUS from 1890 on. no wonder that one of the magazin’s famous artists HEINRICH KLEY became such a big influence for the character design at disney in those days. besides NIELSEN and TENGGREN there were the PROVENSENS, amazing children book illustrators and ALBERT HURTER, a swiss illustrator, who all worked under JOE GRANT’S guidance in a CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT at disney. it was more than that, it developed future feature film concepts and styles.
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