Tuesday, 20 October 2009

WHITE ART

Talking about Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...

A few months ago, when I was in New York recording my interview for the new Blu-ray DVD release of the movie, I referred to the work of the Swedish-American illustrator, Gustaf Tenggren (right), who contributed so much to the look of the early Disney animated features and in particular Snow White and Pinocchio.

Tenggren (1896-197) had emigrated to America in 1920 after establishing his style with a series of illustrations for a popular annual of Swedish folk and fairy tales, Bland Tomtar och Troll - or Among Elves and Trolls.

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Living and working in New York City from 1922, Tenggren began producing pictures for lavish story books from American publishers that evoked the European tradition of fantasy illustration popularised by artists such as Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac.

This is from a 1923 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales...

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No wonder Walt Disney - on the look out for talent to help raise the cartoon medium to an art form - engaged Gustaf Tenggren specifically to help give this feel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Tenggren's inspirational story sketches show just how successful he was in doing that...

Click on image to enlarge

Disney was so pleased with Tenggren's work that it was his imagery that appeared on the first poster for the film in 1937...


These wonderful pictures - both akin to and different from those so familiar to us from the completed film - have long been admired by Disney aficionados and now they can be enjoyed by everyone in a new book from the Disney Press - Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs retold by Cynthia Rylant and with pictures by Tenggren.


The story is simply told - as it has been told and retold for centuries - but the joy of this volume is in the pictures that effortlessly capture both the look of the illustrated books that proliferated in the first two decades of the twentieth century and the Disney interpretation of this ancient tale with its Princess in peril - running scared through a forest of anthropomorphic trees...


The Queen pursuing her wicked wiles...


And her dramatic transformation into an evil death-dealing Hag...


The septet of comic Dwarfs...


And the charming Prince with whom any Princess could hope to live happily ever after...



6 comments:

Susan D-L said...

Tenggren was magnificent. Thanks for posting these delicious artworks!

Boris Hiestand said...

gorgeous work. The man deserves his own book! And mayhaps you're the one to put it together..?

Brian Sibley said...

I'd love to, Boris, but who would publish it in these straightened times...?

Muir Hewitt said...

Fellow Snow White enthusiasts will also be drawn to another delightful volume about the Fairest one of All , in this case it's reprint of the 2002 Blanche Neige book by French Disney enthusiast Pierre Lambert already an author of three other Disney titles ( Pinocchio , Mickey Mouse and Jungle Book ).
This title was released in France on October 22nd 2009 , and is well worth the it's cost of 38 Euros it is only available at www.amazon.fr it's a book any afficionado of vintage Disney animation would be proud to own!!

Hemulen said...

Fantastic! Do you knw the work of Errol le Cain, Brian? He was my best friend's dad, and an astonoshing illustrator of the great fairly tales.

Brian Sibley said...

I do know the work of Errol le Cain: a fantastic artist who died far too young... One of my favourite le Caine books is his illustrations to Eliot's Old Possums Book of Practical Cats.