Tyrus Wong (October 25, 1910 – December 30, 2016) was a highly acclaimed Chinese-American artist and film production illustrator, best known for his pivotal role in creating the iconic visual style of Disney’s “Bambi.”
Early Life & Career
Tyrus Wong was born on October 25, 1910, in Taishan, Guangdong, China. At the age of nine, he and his father immigrated to the United States, leaving behind his mother and sister due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Wong faced the challenges of immigration, including discrimination, which would later influence his art.
Wong’s artistic journey began when he attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles on a scholarship. He displayed exceptional talent as a painter and gained recognition in the art community. In the 1930s, he was hired by Walt Disney Studios as an illustrator, where he contributed significantly to the development of “Bambi.”
Tyrus Wong’s most enduring legacy is his work on “Bambi.” He was tasked with creating the lush and evocative forest backgrounds for the film. Wong’s unique style, inspired by Chinese art and Impressionism, brought a sense of poetic lyricism to the movie. His watercolor concept art set the tone for the entire film, emphasizing the beauty of nature and its emotional impact.
Tyrus Wong passed away on December 30, 2016, leaving behind a rich artistic legacy that continues to inspire and captivate artists and audiences worldwide.
Legacy and Awards
Wong’s contributions to “Bambi” had a lasting impact on animation and filmmaking. His style influenced the film’s overall look, and his impressionistic approach helped convey the emotional depth of the story. Despite being uncredited at the time, his work has since been recognized as a cornerstone of the film’s success.
Tyrus Wong’s legacy extends beyond Disney. He continued to work as an artist, creating a vast body of work in various mediums, from painting to kite-making. His art has been exhibited in galleries and museums, garnering acclaim for its fusion of Eastern and Western artistic traditions.
In 2001, Wong received the Disney Legend award, an acknowledgment of his invaluable contributions to Disney’s artistic history. This recognition was a testament to the enduring impact of his work on “Bambi” and his significant influence on the animation industry.
Tyrus Wong’s unique artistic vision and innovative contributions to animation have solidified his place as an iconic figure in the world of art and film. His ability to meld his Chinese heritage with Western artistic traditions made him a groundbreaking artist and a trailblazer in the animation industry, and his work on “Bambi” remains a timeless testament to his creative genius.
On 25 October 2018, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Tyrus Wong’s 108th Birthday.