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Asian Influence of an American Classic

While you’ve no doubt heard of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh, you’ve probably never heard of Tyrus Wong. A Chinese-American artist, he was the visionary behind Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic, Bambi. The story has it that he spent nights, after long days doing animation, painting watercolors to show his own vision of the new film’s look. His style emphasized the film’s animal characters in the foreground with minimal brushwork, gentle washes and slashes of color in the background—in the Asian tradition. The film went on to receive three Academy Award nominations and in December 2011 it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Mr. Wong died this month at the age of 106.

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