Art director at Disney's
In early 1936, Disney set up a regular drafting office
in New York in search of artists and animators, Gustaf Tenggren accepted the
offer, and he and Mollie moved to Los Angeles. Gustaf was instantly thrown into
the work of designing backgrounds for Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs. Snow White herself, The Evil Queen, the Witch, and the Dwarfs were already
set up by Joe Grant and Albert Hurter, and Gustaf had to concentrate on the
forest exteriors and the interiors of the dwarfs' cottage. Additionally, he painted movie posters,
advertising material and book illustrations connected to the movie.
During his time at the Disney Studio his work was used
for at least seven films, of which four received Academy Awards, among them, The
But his greatest contibution was the design of the
backgrounds and the overall look of Pinocchio, where he introduced
perspectively complex backgrounds to enhance the illusion of depth. The
sceneries fit his style perfectly; they were the very same he had used for many
of the books he had illustrated already, for example Grimm's Fairy Tales.
The last movie he worked on was Bambi. Tenggren was painting forest
exteriors for the film, but his detailed and intricate artwork fitted the movie
badly and he chose to leave the studio in 1939. Later Tenggren claimed that his
time at the Disney Studio was all work for no appreciation at all. Ironically,
though, the just over two-and-a-half years he spent at Disney placed his name in
the canon of Disney-associated artists, and as a result gave his career a
tremendous push over the years to come.
Storyboard sketch for The Old Mill