Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong
SECOND AND FOURTH THURSDAYS
APRIL 9 – SEPTEMBER 10 | 6:30 PM
Explore Tyrus Wong’s craft, as well as lasting influence of his artistic vision and style. Free with admission!
In celebration of the Museum’s 35th anniversary this spring, MOCA is proud to present Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong. Celebrated painter, muralist, kite-maker, lithographer and calligrapher, Tyrus Wong is one of the greatest Chinese American artists of the 20th century. This highly anticipated exhibition showcases his extraordinary body of work including Disney’s iconic American children’s classic, Bambi. Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong is organized by The Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco, CA.
This retrospective exhibition features Wong’s extensive body of work which includes his paintings, hand-painted ceramics, original greeting cards, works on paper, and latest kite creations. It was the ethereal beauty of Wong’s Eastern influenced paintings, his sense of color, richness, and imagination that caught Walt Disney’s eye and became the inspiration for the animated feature Bambi (1942). Wong’s singular vision and impressionistic art influenced the groundbreaking movie’s overall visual style and changed the way animation art was presented.
Arriving in the United States with his father in 1919 from the Toishan district in Guangdong, China, Wong was initially detained in Angel Island for three weeks because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. After his release, Wong and his father settled in Sacramento, later moving to Los Angeles’s Chinatown.
Wong was one of the bohemian artists whose creativity and drive helped shape the cultural, artistic life of Los Angeles during the 1930s and 40s. He carved out a creative career working as a Depression-era muralist, California watercolorist, and film production illustrator. Wong worked at the Warner Bros. studio from 1942 to 1968, creating concept images for many films includingRebel Without a Cause  and The Wild Bunch , to name a few. These artworks conjured stunning environments, in many cases resembling beautifully executed architectural renderings.
In 2001, Wong was named a Disney Legend. Wong has been inducted into the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame for his amazing creations, which include hundred-foot long centipedes, butterflies, and schools of delicately painted goldfish. These handmade kites inspired by the complex art of Chinese kite making will be a central exhibition showcase.
During the run of the exhibition, MOCA will offer a line-up of events, public programs, tours, and educational workshops.
On May 14, at 7PM, join Academy Award-winning filmmaker and animation historian John Canemaker on a talk on Tyrus Wong’s influential and unique contributions to the art direction of animated feature film Bambi (1942) and his experiences working at the Walt Disney studio.
Please check back on the Museum’s website for upcoming exhibition-related programs.
This exhibition and related programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by The Starr Foundation and Anla Cheng & Mark Kingdon. In-kind shipping has been provided by DHL.