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They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age Hardcover – September 8, 2015
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From the Publisher
Historian Publishes Never-before-seen Artwork from Disney’s Golden Age
They Drew As They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age by Didier Ghez focuses on four artists who all worked for Disney in the 1930s: Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, Gustaf Tenggren, and Disney’s first female concept artist, Bianca Majolie. These early pioneers developed art for Disney shorts and many unproduced projects, as well as art for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and some early work for later features such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
The volume introduces new biographical material about the artists and largely unpublished artwork from the depths of the Walt Disney Archives and the Disney Animation Research Library; Didier offers a window into the most inspiring work created by the best Disney artists during the studio’s early golden age.
Behind the Scenes with Didier Ghez
Initially, I got access to Disney historian John Canemaker’s files, which are stored at New York University. They contained interviews conducted by John when he was researching his book Before the Animation Begins.
One of the interviewees mentioned the diaries of Ferdinand Horvath, which had just been sold to a Los Angeles dealer. Was this lead worth following?
I followed the trail and finally made contact with the dealer:
“I am the son of the dealer to whom you left a message last week,” was his reply.
“Is your father still alive?” I asked.
“He is and he is with me right now.”
“Does he still have the documents?”
“He does and he would like to sell them.”
Not only did the dealer still have the diaries, he had also preserved a whole pile of letters that I did not know existed. Part of the material that I purchased was in Hungarian, part in German. All of it was utterly fascinating and helped me write a chapter filled from start to finish with brand new information from Horvath himself.
They Drew As They Pleased relies heavily on correspondence, diaries, and interviews, which act as small time machines; uncovering the only known interview with artist Gustaf Tenggren was particularly exciting.
In the interview, Tenggren discussed his work on one of the scenes of Fantasia, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” However, I knew that no artwork on this by Tenggren had even been located. Weeks later, an animation art dealer asked if I wanted to check out a few Leica reels from Fantasia that he had just acquired. One had been created with early story art from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” complete with four pieces that had been unmistakably painted by Tenggren!
Another piece of artwork by Tenggren still makes me smile. One of the most beautiful and moving pieces of art planned for the book was a black-and-white of Geppetto lifting an apparently lifeless Pinocchio. Two weeks before the book was sent to the printer, the color artwork was offered for sale — and I was able to get a high-resolution scan from the auction house that was selling it. It thrills me to this day to see it in the book in color.
I could tell similar stories for almost all of the 350 never-seen-before illustrations and for each never-released-before story in the text. This treasure hunt will remain fascinating for a long while, since there are still so many hidden Disney artists and so much hidden Disney art to re-discover.
"Didier Ghez has brought to light numerous discoveries, from early Jiminy Cricket designs by Albert Hurter to documents by Gustaf Tenggren for The Sorcerer's Apprentice With material culled from personal letters, journals and anecdotes from friends, family and coworkers, this unprecedented portrait of these artists comes to life, revealing how they helped shape the Walt Disney Studio, and how they continue to inspire us to this day."
Holiday Gift Guide Pick "Feast your eyes on the fantastic lost art of Disney's 1930s concept artists."
Holiday Gift Guide Pick
"This is a gem for film buffs and Disney enthusiasts looking for an absorbing title to fill out their collections."
"Now, indefatigable Disney chronicler and aficionado Didier Ghez has dug even deeper for the first in a series of books, focusing on four key figures: Hurter, Ferdinand Horvath, Gustaf Tenggren, and Bianca Majolie. Their sketches, doodles, drawings, and paintings are inventive, whimsical, and sometimes breathtaking. Ghez sets their work into context with his informative essays. This is not the kind of book to be swallowed whole but savored."
"It's an important examination of Disney's key concept artists of the 1930s. The fact that it's also lavishly illustrated, well-written (loaded with new information) and entertaining is icing on the cake...buy this book."
- Jerry Beck, Cartoon Research
"If you're looking for in-depth Disney history, you honestly can't do better than Didier Ghez...If you have a plethora of Disney animation history books on your shelf, you probably have several images that are burnt into your mind, because you see them over and over. Not here. Thanks to Disney's ARL (i.e., Animation Research Library), you're going to be seeing art that the public has never, EVER seen before...'They Drew As They Pleased -- The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age: The 1930s' is a treasure, and a gift to future generations of art students."
-Jim Hill Media
"Early Walt Disney Studio animation has a special, glowing magic familiar to anyone who has seen classics such as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' or 'Pinocchio.' Credit the Disney Story 'Department, and the artists 'including a woman, Bianca Majolie" whose stories and artwork are collected in a lovely coffee-table book..."
"Disney devotees will admire 'They Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age: The 1930s' by Didier Ghez (Chronicle Books, 208 pages, $40). This is the first in a planned series of six works exploring the revered studio's output. The edition is loaded with scenes from classics such as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' 'Pinocchio,' plus lots of previously unpublished artwork."
- San Jose Mercury News
"Didier Ghez is a brilliant illuminator of the often unexplored corners of the art and artists behind the Disney films, and he's brought that the unique and wonderful skill to They Drew As They Pleased: The Hidden Art Of Disney's Golden Age, which explores the works of a quartet of Disney's first concept artists as the company's horizons broadened rapidly in the 1930s."
-A Site Called Fred
About the Author
Didier Ghez is the author of Disney's Grand Tour and Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality, and the editor of the Walt's People book series. He lives in Florida.
Pete Docter is vice president of creative at Pixar Animation Studios and the writer and director of Disney•Pixar's Inside Out. He also directed the Academy Award®–winning feature films Monsters, Inc. and Up. He lives in Piedmont, California.
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Top customer reviews
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Just a gorgeous book. Wonderful supportive text on some of the greats from Disney and the art is magnificent. Essential Disney for the serious fan (and even for the casual one).
My buying of Disney art books has slowed over recent years because time and time again books claiming to reveal unseen artwork are usually filled with images seen dozens of times before. Didier has done a monumental job of tracking down pieces from private collections all around the world . . . it is a visual feast of rare art.
much all of us never knew that we never knew.
While knowledgeable Disney fans may recognize some of the names in this book, Didier truly brings these artists to life and shares why their contributions were so important to the earliest Disney animated cartoons of the 1930s. Didier is a well respected Disney historian whose other books including the amazing Walt's People series have enriched Disney history. By leveraging his connections, Didier was able to find not only artwork that has rarely if ever been seen since it was first produced but also information and insights to four Disney's legendary concept artists that have not been previously documented.
While the book effortlessly guides the reader from page to page, a quick glance at the acknowledgements will reveal the depth of research Didier went through to find and organize this material. The book is a fun browse for a casual fan interested in Disney art but for those who want something more, Didier has created a valuable reference for further exploration and understanding.
For any true Disney animation fan, this is a "must have" for your collection.
This is the sort of book you pick up over and over again just to marvel at the incredible artwork on almost every page--and when you do, you find you're late for appointments, missing meals, and up WAY too late!
Unfortunately, the corner of the book I received was a little banged up when it arrived - I think it was damaged during shipping, but it's not too bad. Overall, it's a lovely book and I'd really recommend it.