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Walt Disney Family Museum to present ‘The Art of Marc Davis’ exhibition

Marc Davis, visual development for "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," ca. 1961. Gift of Alice Davis. Walt Disney Family Foundation. Disney.
Marc Davis, visual development for "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," ca. 1961. Gift of Alice Davis. Walt Disney Family Foundation. Disney.
Marc Davis, Disney

On March 26, The Walt Disney Family Museum announced an exhibition devoted to Disney Legend Marc Davis. “Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis” will be on view at Theater Gallery of the San Francisco's museum from April 30 to Nov. 3.

The Walt Disney Family Museum will present "Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis" from April 30 to Nov. 3.
Marc Davis, Disney

“Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis” will feature some 70 original pencil animation drawings, conceptual artwork, paintings, cels, and photographs showcasing the work of animator and Imagineer Davis (1913-2000). Davis was known for his talent in animating characters for such Disney classics as “Peter Pan” (1953), “Sleeping Beauty” (1956), and “One Hundred and One Dalmatians “ (1961).

The selective exhibit concentrates on Davis’ expertise in drawing humans for Disney, as he is known for his facility with anatomy and movement. As its title indicates, the exhibition focuses on Davis’ work with Disney’s female characters, leading ladies and femmes fatales alike.

When asked about his favorite, Davis told an interviewer,

“Each of my women characters has her own unique style; I love them all in different ways.”

In addition to Davis’ iconic female characters in Disney movies – including Tinker Bell, Aurora, Maleficent and Cruella de Vil – the exhibit includes some of his contributions in live entertainment and fine art.

Organized by The Walt Disney Family Museum, “The Art of Marc Davis” is co-created by Michael Labrie, the museum’s director of collections and exhibitions, and animator Andreas Deja. Exhibition pieces come primarily from Davis’ personal collection, Walt Disney Imagineering, several private collectors, and the Walt Disney Family Foundation’s collection.

“The Art of Marc Davis” overlaps with “the world of Mary Blair”

The Walt Disney Family Museum takes advantage of professional connections between Davis and Disney Legend and artist Mary Blair with the timing of this 2014 exhibition schedule. “Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis” has a period of overlap with “MAGIC, COLOR, Flair: the world of Mary Blair.” Blair’s exhibition runs through Sept. 7 in the museum’s Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall.

Visiting The Walt Disney Family Museum

  • Hours: 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays through Monday; closed on Tuesdays and the following public holidays: New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
  • Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors and students, and $12 children ages 6 to 17. Admission is free for members. Admission to this exhibition is free with paid museum admission or for members.
  • Location: The Presidio of San Francisco, 104 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 9412

Meet Disney Legend Marc Davis: animator, storyteller, Imagineer

Davis joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." A self-taught artist with a gift for storytelling, he went on to create such beloved characters as Bambi, Cinderella and Tinker Bell. Davis also was one of Walt Disney’s elite group of “Nine Old Men,” the animators who worked closely with Walt to create the animated classics that built the reputation of the Walt Disney Studios.

When talking about his career, Marc Davis once said,

“I rarely felt confined to the animation medium. I worked as an idea man and loved creating characters, whether they be for animation or any other medium.”

Walt Disney certainly thought so. He said of Davis:

“Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do is tell him what I want and it’s there. He’s my Renaissance Man.”

In addition to animated movies, Davis worked with Walt Disney Imagineering and helped plan attractions at Disneyland and for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. He contributed character and story ideas to such classic Disney attractions as it’s a small world, Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

“Marc Davis became the most prolific Imagineer of his time in developing ideas and drawings for Disney Park attractions. There is a treasury of some of the world’s best-known and most humorous characters,” said Disney Legend and Imagineer Marty Sklar.

Marc also worked closely with his wife, Alice (Estes) Davis. Davis first met Estes in 1947 at Chouinard Art Institute, the training ground for Disney artists, where he was an animation teacher and she a student who would become a costume designer.

The two later married, working together at the Walt Disney Studios and as Imagineers. Both Marc and Alice worked to help create it’s a small world, along with Mary Blair. This connection, among others, makes the overlapping timing for the “Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis” and “MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair” exhibitions particularly appropriate.

Davis eventually retired from the Walt Disney Studios in 1978, after forty-three years. He continued to contributed to the development of Disney Parks, notably Epcot Center and Tokyo Disneyland. Davis was named a Disney Legend in 1989 (Alice in 2004). He passed away in 2000.

Visit The Walt Disney Family Museum for more information on what is offered for travel planning.

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