A gorgeous history of the mid-century modernism by Disney's finest illustrators of the 1950s
Didier Ghez is a dedicated Disney historian who has embarked on a massive, multi-volume history of the art of Disney in his They Drew As They Pleased series from Chronicle Books; I enjoyed the first three volumes of the series, but volume 4, The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s took my breath away.
The mid-century was a fraught time for Disney: the war was over, the studio was recovering, but relations were more strained than ever between the Disney brothers (Walt, as always, wanted to spend the company money on cool gadgets and ambitious projects, while Roy, his CFO brother, held him in check and threatened him with the wrath of the shareholders). The animator's strike of the previous decade was long settled, but resentments still simmered. Disneyland was on the horizon, and the studio was able to make ends meet by taking on commercial work.
Meanwhile, Disney's ranks of artists were swelling with modernists for whom the abstraction of animation bore some kind of tantalizing family resemblance to the abstract art movement. They wanted to experiment with form, with color, and above all, with motion.
Ghez features five artists in this volume, giving a brief biography of each, then a tour through their Disney and non-Disney portfolios of the era, supplemented with primary historical sources like letters and memos. The artists' style will be naggingly familiar to anyone with a passing experience of Disney movies, but Ghez features a wealth of work that was too weird, too ambitious, too esoteric to make it into a Disney production -- it's a tour of a parallel universe in which Disney was the world's best-funded avant garde salon, where incredibly talented, fiercely driven painters and illustrators produced challenging work of enormous wit, drive, and ambition.
The five artists in the volume are Lee Blair, Mary Blair (swoon!), Tom Oreh, John Dunn and Walt Perogoy. The book begins with a sweet introduction by veteran animators Susan McKinsey Goldberg and her husband Eric Goldberg, who lived through the era at the studio.
They Drew As They Pleased Vol 4: The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s [Didier Ghez/Chronicle Books]
Watch the trailer to "The Booksellers," a documentary on the enduring, eccentric world of rare book selling
Attention bookworms and rare book nerds. The Booksellers, opening in March, is a documentary celebrating bookstores and the peculiar business of collecting and selling rare books. Literary Hub writes: Have you ever dreamed of becoming an antiquarian bookseller? Or just wanted to get to know one better? Or maybe you just like old books a […]
Sarah Gailey is one of science fiction's great new talents and their 2019 debut novel Magic for Liars was incredibly strong; now they're back with Upright Women Wanted, a feminist, genderqueer science fiction western novel about gun-toting roving librarians who are secretly the heart of an antifascist resistance.
According to an article on Deadline, Spike Lee has signed on to direct a film adaption of David Byrne’s Broadway hit, American Utopia. Oscar winner Spike Lee has signed on to direct a filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway show David Byrne’s American Utopia. Participant adds another title to its portfolio of films meant to […]
Engineers versed in the care and feeding of system development on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform are in an IT job sector so vital right now that they can practically set their own salaries. And a look at the annual Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report suggests that might not be far from […]
Outside of Black Friday, there may be no bigger shopping day than the often-overlooked, unassuming Presidents’ Day. Sure, we can spend the day honoring Washington, Lincoln, and the rest of the crew — or we can just celebrate by embracing good old fashion American capitalism. Hewlett Packard knows which way you want to go. The […]
Become the best binge-watcher on the block when you add this sweet smart TV to your living room. Not only is this LG television big—hello, 86″—but it’s also packed with cutting-edge tech that will finally justify all those hours you spend watching The Mandalorian. Why not take advantage of Presidents’ Day sale pricing and snap […]