The animation studio United Productions of America (UPA) was able to challenge Disney supremacy in the 1950s entertainment market by creating cutting-edge animated cartoons. UPA films express a simplified audiovisual language consisting of stylized layout designs, asymmetrical compositions, colors applied flatly and in contrast with each other, limited animation and a minimalist use of sound effects. UPA artists developed this innovative style by assimilating those aesthetic features already expressed by Modern painters, graphic designers and advertisers. This book considers UPA films as Modern animations, because they synthesize a common minimalist tendency that was occurring in US animation during the 1940s and 1950s. It examines the conditions under which UPA studio flourished and the figure of its executive producer Stephen Bosustow; the influence of Modernist stylistic features of painting, graphic design and poster advertising on UPA animations; and UPA animated cartoons as case studies of a simplified audiovisual language that influenced 1950s-1960s international productions.
Cinzia Bottini received her Ph.D. from the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (2016). She graduated in Philosophy (2004) and earned a Master degree in Philosophical Studies with an emphasis on fine art and cinema from the University of Milan (2010). She has worked as a journalist for radio, magazine and television, and she has written about the history and theory of animation for the following journals and book: ITINERA - Rivista di Filosofia e di Teoria delle Arti; Animation - A World History by Giannalberto Bendazzi; Animation Studies Online Journal; Cabiria - Studi di Cinema; and The International Journal of Visual Design (co-author).
Preface. Introduction. UPA Within the Historical and Cultural Framework of Cold War America. The UPA Production System. The Birth of Style: Modern Art, Graphics Design, Advertising and Animation in the '30s and '50s. UPA Films as Simplified Visual Language in Animation. The UPA Formula. Conclusion. Appendix.