Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hans Erni

Did you ever wonder which artists Disney's animators admired ?
From the conversations I had with them, I can tell you that the range was pretty wide. They all knew about the lively drawings of Heinrich Kley, and they appreciated the realism in Norman Rockwell's work. Frank and Ollie liked Edgar Degas very much, Marc and Milt were big fans of Picasso.
During early visits in the 1980ies to their homes, I noticed that both animators, Marc and Milt kept a framed print by a Swiss artist on the wall. 
That artist is Hans Erni, who turned 102 this year, and still draws and paints every day at his studio in Switzerland. His life work includes interpretations of classic themes as well as designs for postage stamps and posters.
When I look at his art, I see a drawing style that echoes the Renaissance.
Classically drawn figures within abstract environments. Marc Davis used this approach in some of his own fine art as well.

Here are a few examples of Erni's work, mostly from the 1950ies.


  1. Wonderful images, reminiscent of Raphael and Michelangelo!
    M. Goldberg

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  3. I love Erni's work. It is so unfortunate that his is not better known. I first learned about him from a book I found in the rare art books section at the Strand here in New York and became a fan immediately. If more people could draw like that man the world would be a better place.

    Thanks so much for posting this.

  4. Wow great work!!! Have you ever gotten in contact with Erni? It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on animation.

  5. Amazing :D So if I look up to Disney animators, and animators admire artists like Erni, than who does he admire?

  6. this is really amazing. i can never get enough of this modern neoclassical stuff

  7. I love Hans Erni, I used to admire his work in Graphis and gebrausgraphik in the early sixties. He painted a terrific mural in the Unicef headquarters at that time. I wonder if it still is there.

  8. Andreas...See if you can find works by Lajos Szalay. Another giant of the period. I have an original by him and a terrific book printed in Argentina in the fifties.

  9. Oscar,
    thanks for mentioning Lajos Szalay.
    I googled him and found his amazing work.
    Now I need to find a good art book on him.

  10. It's incredible to see the works that the animators admired. The art brings so much life and power it's easy to see why.