In Circulation: Mary Blair

We’ve only begun to examine the life and works of Mary Blair. Her life was filed with  much more creative art as a Disney employee and as a freelance artist, not to mention her personal life and struggles.  To cover all these topics would require more than two blog posts, it would require a whole book! Luckily for us Disney and Mary Blair fans, the recent resurgence in Blair’s artwork for merchandising projects has also led to the production of multiple well-written books. In this article, I will review a few of the Mary Blair related books currently on the market.

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair By John Canemaker ISBN: 0786853913

Normally anything written by John Canemaker is sure to be filled w with interesting and new facts.  Canemaker is able to write in such a way that presents his deep research in an exciting and accessible format.  His Mary Blair book does not disappoint.  Part in depth biography, part art critique, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair utilizes text interspersed with striking artwork and personal pictures to weave together Blair’s biography.  This is a must for any Disney library. However, before racing off to Amazon to purchase it, this title is currently out of print BUT will be re-released May 20, 2014 as an updated version.

A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books ISBN: 037587044X

As a freelance artist, Blair realized her dream of becoming an illustrator by working for Golden Books. Blair had quite a fruitful career illustrating multiple children’s books and songbooks, A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books is an excellent book that briefly reviews her work for the company as well as has 12 books and songs she illustrated. This is a lovely book showcasing Blair’s work outside the Disney realm and can be enjoyed by children and adults. This books is currently in print and available at Amazon for $15.00.

South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and The Good Neighbor Program By J.B. Kaufman ISBN: 1423111931

Authored by another Disney historian, this book deals heavily with the details of Walt Disney’s Goodwill trip to South America, but considering the importance this trip had on Blair’s artwork, there is a great amount written about her. This would not be my first suggestion for a book about Mary Blair, but if you are interested in learning more about the South American Disney trip as well as Blair’s specific role during and after, there is not a better book on the market. At 335 pages, this book is packed full of amazing facts and bits of trivia. Like Canemaker, Kaufman utilizes artwork, pictures, and promotional material to help illustrate his text and hold onto the reader’s attention.  There is a good deal of Blair’s (both Mary and her husband Lee’s) artwork represented in this work. I would be remiss if I did not mention that this is the companion book to the documentary produced entitled Walt and El Groupo which is currently available on dvd.

I hope you have enjoyed our look into Mary Blair and her time with The Disney Studios animation department and have become even more interested in this phenomenal artist and woman. I hope you look into some of the books reviewed in this article as well as keep an eye out for the ones currently in production!  As interest grows around Blair’s life and art, there is a wealth of information to be discovered and enjoyed!