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Founders / – #310 Walt Disney and Picasso

Founders – #310 Walt Disney and Picasso

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In this episode of the “Founders” podcast, the speaker explores the lives and legacies of two influential artists of the 20th century: Walt Disney and Pablo Picasso. The episode delves into their unique approaches to creativity, their impact on visual experiences, and their entrepreneurial spirits. The speaker draws inspiration from an essay on Picasso written by historian Paul Johnson, who has contrasting views on both artists. The episode raises the question of which man has had a more significant influence on art and culture.

Main Takeaways

Picasso’s Artistic Approach

  • Picasso created shocking novelties using traditional methods, while Disney embraced new technologies and American entrepreneurship.
  • Picasso exploited old artistic disciplines to produce new art, while Disney incorporated new technologies throughout his creative life.
  • Picasso’s self-taught and self-promoted journey shaped his unique artistic style.
  • Picasso always kept a sharp eye on the market and knew what would sell.
  • Picasso’s physical location, such as moving to Paris, played a crucial role in his rise to success.

Picasso’s Persona and Success

  • Picasso’s charisma and overwhelming personality allowed him to exploit both men and women.
  • His monumental selfishness was linked to his achievements as an originator and aesthetic entrepreneur.
  • Picasso’s extraordinary productivity, creativity, and charisma contributed to his success.
  • His lack of distinction between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, showcased the power he possessed.
  • Picasso’s creative genius coexisted with his evil nature, making him a rare case where evil was all-pervasive.

Disney’s Entrepreneurial Journey

  • Disney’s childhood on a farm influenced his love for observing and drawing animals.
  • Disney anthropomorphized his animal subjects, which became a source of his power and humor.
  • He had a strong American entrepreneurial spirit and desired to be his own master.
  • Disney faced challenges such as sound and lack of capital in the early days of animation.
  • His resourcefulness and dedication allowed him to create movies with limited resources.

Disney’s Creative Process and Impact

  • Disney’s emphasis on studying nature and anthropomorphism played a key role in his art.
  • He embraced technology, including color and sound, to enhance realism in his work.
  • Disney prioritized excellence over profits, investing in new technology and talented artists.
  • His collaboration with artists like Iwerks led to innovative ideas and techniques.
  • Disney’s groundbreaking film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, marked the maturity of animation as an art form.


Picasso’s Artistic Journey and Impact

Picasso’s unconventional approach to art, combining shock value with traditional techniques, set him apart from his contemporaries. His self-taught and self-promoted path allowed him to develop a unique artistic style. Picasso’s keen market sense and ability to differentiate himself propelled him to success. However, his overwhelming personality, lack of moral values, and exploitation of others tarnished his legacy.

Disney’s Entrepreneurial Spirit and Creative Brilliance

Disney’s upbringing on a farm and his love for animals influenced his artistic style. His anthropomorphism of animals became a signature element of his work. Disney’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish his own company and maintain control over his creations. He faced challenges but overcame them through resourcefulness and dedication. Disney’s commitment to excellence and his ability to embrace new technologies revolutionized the animation industry.

Comparing Picasso and Disney

Both Picasso and Disney left an indelible mark on the 20th century and beyond. Picasso’s artistic approach challenged conventions, while Disney’s entrepreneurial mindset transformed the animation industry. Picasso’s success can be attributed to his productivity, creativity, and charisma, albeit overshadowed by his immoral behavior. Disney’s success stemmed from his resourcefulness, dedication to excellence, and ability to embrace technological advancements. Both artists had a profound impact on visual experiences, but their approaches and legacies differ significantly.


The episode highlights the contrasting journeys and legacies of Pablo Picasso and Walt Disney. While Picasso shocked the art world with his unconventional approach, Disney revolutionized animation through his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to excellence. Both artists continue to influence art and culture in the 21st century, leaving behind a legacy that sparks debate about their true impact. Whether it is Picasso’s controversial persona or Disney’s innovative creations, their contributions to the visual experiences of the 20th century cannot be denied.

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