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Tyrus Wong: Google Doodle Honours Iconic 'Bambi' Artist on His 108th Birthday

Tyrus Wong, who is considered as one of the most influential Asian-American artists of the 20th Century, is best remembered for his work on ‘Bambi’, the 1942 Walt Disney film.

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Updated:October 25, 2018, 11:55 AM IST
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Tyrus Wong: Google Doodle Honours Iconic 'Bambi' Artist on His 108th Birthday
Tyrus Wong, who is considered as one of the most influential Asian-American artists of the 20th Century, is best remembered for his work on ‘Bambi’, the 1942 Walt Disney film.
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Today's Google doodle celebrates the 108th birthday of Tyrus Wong, iconic Chinese-born American artist, who is known for some of the most popular and defining images in the American pop culture.

Wong, who is considered as one of the most influential Asian-American artists of the 20th Century, is best remembered for his work on ‘Bambi’, the 1942 Walt Disney film. Interestingly, Wong never met Walt Disney personally. However, his enchanting work which was heavily suffused with Eastern painting styles caught Walt’s eye and eventually became the inspiration for the animated feature Bambi, which changed the course of animation art, and continues to be an inspiration to contemporary artists.

He drew inspiration from Song dynasty’s bold art of classical Chinese paintings. Tyrus Wong was born Wong Gen Yeo, in a village in southern China's Guangdong Province on October 25, 1910. When he was 10-year-old, Wong and his father traveled to America, and lived in Sacramento, before eventually settling in Los Angeles.

Overcoming adversity, poverty, and racial discrimination, Wong used his interpretations of traditional oriental art along with his experiences of working as a Depression- era muralist, California watercolorist, and film production illustrator, to become one of the bohemian artists whose creativity shaped the cultural, artistic life of Los Angeles during the 1930s and 40s

The Google doodle pays a heartwarming tribute to the relationship Wong shared with his father, as it was him who recognized Wong’s love for art at an early age. Wong’s father at that time could only afford for his son to practise calligraphy using water and newspapers as well as study Chinese art at the Los Angeles Central Library.

In junior highschool, Wong earned a scholarship to the Otis Art institute. Wong began to support himself as a waiter in Chinatown. Tyrus Wong's work was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1932, along with the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Paul Klee.

In 1938, Wong took a job at the Walt Disney Studios as an inbetweener, who is someone with the job of going through the tedious process of making “in-between” drawings that filled out the movement of the characters between the animators’ key drawings. At the time, Tyrus Wong was only credited as one of many "background artists," and his contributions went unrecognized for years. His contributions to Hollywood were finally recognized in 2001, when he was named a "Disney Legend."

Soon after the release of Bambi, Tyrus Wong was fired from Disney as a result of the Disney animators' strike. After this, he went on to work for Warner Brothers Studios for 26 years as a production illustrator. There he drew and painted storyboards that shaped the look of some notable films like The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima, and Rebel Without A Cause.

After retiring, Wong shifted his attention to designing hand-made kites. His dozens of designs include multi-colored 100-foot centipedes, flocks of swallow, butterflies, and panda bears. In 1990, he and his kites were featured in the short film, Flights of Fancy. ​
| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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