Country and cool: The Coals - Off-Ramp for August 17, 2013

LA's Tyrus Wong, 102, gave look to Bambi, gets career retrospective at Walt Disney Family Museum

Tyrus Wong

A painting by Tyrus Wong, who gave Bambi its look.

Artist Tyrus Wong, 102,  celebrating the hundredth day of a friend's baby, an important Chinese cultural custom.

John Rabe

Artist Tyrus Wong, 102, celebrating the hundredth day of a friend's baby, an important Chinese cultural custom.


The new Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco beat Los Angeles to the punch, and is staging a career retrospective for Tyrus Wong, the man who gave Disney's animated film "Bambi" its look.

As we told you in a 2007 Off-Ramp profile, produced by Queena Kim and featuring animation expert Charles Solomon, Wong, now 102 and still very active (somehow, he gets younger looking every year), took his cue for Bambi from the simplicity of Chinese painting.


(Wong painting at home in the 1950s. Courtesy Tyrus Wong)

Here's what the museum says about Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong, which is up until February 3, 2014:

Organized by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections, the exhibition will focus on the life and work of Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong—a celebrated painter, muralist, kite maker, lithographer, Hollywood sketch artist, calligrapher, ceramicist, and Disney Legend. At age 102, Wong is still a practicing artist today.

This retrospective features more than 150 works including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, painted scarves, kites, and more. Although he never met Walt Disney, it was the ethereal beauty of Wong’s Eastern influenced paintings that caught Walt’s eye and became the inspiration for the animated feature Bambi, which changed the way animation art was presented, and continues to be an inspiration to contemporary artists.


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