A Mary Blair Masterpiece Monday


Right now at Epcot Disney is holding an International Festival of the Arts, which I went to a week ago. As part of this festival, they have a few galleries displaying the art work of famous Disney artists throughout history. One of these galleries celebrates the work of Mary Blair, specifically her South American inspired work, which in turn inspired the look of the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (which I also just rode a week ago). I’d always wanted to see some of Mary Blair’s art work in person, so it was a real treat for me to visit this exhibit. The art work  is even more spectacular n person when you can see every brush stroke and experience every bright colour up close. I was so inspired by my visit to the gallery that I thought I’d feature one of the paintings on display in today’s Masterpiece Monday.

This gauche painting shows a costume design done by Mary Blair for the film The Three Caballeros, one of the first feature films made by Walt Disney Animation to combine animation and live action. Because of this, costumes were needed for the human actors, and Mary Blair took on the role of designing these. It was the perfect role for her, as she often designed and sewed much of her own unique clothing.  While not all of her designs made the cut for the final film, this particular one did. This design was inspired by the clothing Mary Blair saw Brazilian women wearing while touring the country with Walt Disney. The silhouette draws from Brazilian sources both traditional and modern. The colours of the costume are extremely bright and festive, reflecting Mary Blair’s signature style, while also showing off the capabilities of the still relatively novel technicolor process. As good as this costume looks in Mary Blair’s design, it looks even better on screen. in the “Baia” segment of the film.

The singer who wore this particular costume in The Three Caballeros was Aurora Miranda, the younger sister of Carmen Miranda. While touring South America, Walt Disney and his staff met and developed relationships with many native performers, including the famous Carmen Miranda. Walt had asked her to be a part of the film, but her schedule did not allow for it, so she recommended  that Walt hire her younger sister Aurora instead, which he did. Creating Aurora Miranda’s scenes alongside Donald Duck and Jose Cairioca involved a technologically innovative process.Miranda performed her scenes in the costume designed by Mary Blair in front of process screen and the animated characters were projected behind her for guidance. Then, a new optical printer developed by Ub Iwerks was used to combine the animation and live-action footage. The result was what I consider one of the most fun and memorable scenes in The Three Caballeros. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at Mary Blair’s costume design for Aurora Miranda’s part live-action and part animated number in The Three Caballeros . If you can at all make it to Epcot this month for the International Festival of the Arts I highly recommend it. There you can see this painting and many other Mary Blair paintings for the film up close and in person. It is truly and amazing experience.

Image Credit: disneyconceptsandstuff.tumblr.com



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