15 August, 2010

Gustaf Tenggren

Gustaf Tenggren was born in 1896 in Sweden to a family of artists. He showed early aptitude and began thorough training as an artist.  His early illustration work shows an influence from his contemporaries, mainly John Bauer, and decorative styles of the day.  The subject matter was often mythological in nature.

Tenggren immigrated to the US in 1920. He opened a studio in New York  and began a prolific output in children's books and magazine illustration. His style changed to adapt to the requirements of the market. In 1936 he was hired by Walt Disney to work on the first feature length animated film, Snow White.
He also worked on Pinocchio,  Fantasia, Bambi and others, as a concept artist and designer. His Scandinavian background is evident in the artwork for these films.

From the 1940's to 1962, Gustaf Tenggren was a major illustrator of  Little Golden books.  One of his best known titles from these books is The Poky Little Puppy. He was amazingly successful and produced art for a wide range of subjects and age groups.

One of my favourite books from childhood is called Golden Tales from the Arabian Nights with superb illustrations by Tenggren. His approach is more stylised than his Disney work.

Gustaf Tenggren died in 1970 and his widow donated much of his artwork and papers to the children's literature research library at the University of Minnesota,

Early works from the 1920's.

Little Golden Book titles illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

Golden Tales from the Arabian Nights. Simon and Schuster. First published in 1957

For further information and more of his artwork, there is a great site devoted to Gustaf Tenggren. Take a look here.

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