Illustration: Tenggren’s Sing For Christmas

Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas

Around 1940, Gustaf Tenggren left the Disney Studios a changed man. It’s said that he gathered together the paintings he had created up to that point, piled them up in the street and set fire to them. With this single decisive act, he marked a turning point in his artistic career. He never painted in the classic European book illustrator style again. He had resolved himself to create a new style.

Gustaf Tenggren Sing For ChristmasGustaf Tenggren Sing For ChristmasI really don’t know what brought him to that point. I’d love to know the full story. But you can clearly see the sharp dividing line between old and new in his work. In the first few years of the 1940s, Tenggren struggled to develop a new way of painting- a simplified style that depended on fundamental qualities like skillful composition, expressive texture and unique color harmonies, rather than photo-realistic detail and modeling techniques derived from classical easel painting. This book, along with its sequel Sing For America and the schoolbook reader Runaway Home would lead to the creation of the very first Little Golden Books… The Pokey Little Puppy, The Tawny Scrawny Lion and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. You know the rest of the story…

This book is far from representing Tenggren’s best work, but it’s an important example of a decisive turning point in Tenggren’s career. I’ll post some illustrations from Sing For America and Runaway Home soon.

Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas
Gustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas

Gustaf Tenggren Sing For ChristmasGustaf Tenggren Sing For Christmas







All of us at Animation Resources wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

3 Responses to “Illustration: Tenggren’s Sing For Christmas”

  1. I knew that Tenggren’s style had changed over the years, but this is almost shocking to see how different it is from his earlier work. Now my curiosity is aroused as to the reason for the dramatic shift.

    It sounds as if he may have left Disney as an unhappy employee. We know about some of the internal politics that Grim Natwick experienced. Maybe Gustaf felt it in a similar way.

    Keep up the great work Stephen and have an enjoyable holiday break.

    • It’s said that the immediate cause of Tenggren’s departure was due to rumors that circulated after Tenggren went on a camping trip with the young niece of a top animator. But he never fit into the Disney Studio well. His two points of irritation were the schedule that required him to paint faster than he would have liked, and the anonymity. He was a star in his field and he chafed at having Walt Disney’s signature on his own work. Walt may have also gotten off on the wrong foot with him early on by asking him to paint in the style of Rackham. You don’t hire Picasso and tell him to paint Monet’s water lillies.

      I go into more detail about Tenggren’s post Disney work in two articles called Genesis of the Golden Book Style. Do a search in the sidebar and you’ll find them.

  2. Esta web es un auténtico regalo para mis ojos.

    Muchas gracias por poder permitidme acceder a materiales tan interesantes.

    Un saludo desde Granada, España.

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