UPA (United Productions of America) By Leskosky, Richard J.
Hollywood cartoon studio UPA (United Productions of America) was founded in 1943 by former Disney animators Steven Bosustow, Zachary Schwartz, and David Hilberman. It profoundly influenced animation art and practice around the world with its modern design and adult themes. UPA created highly praised theatrical cartoon shorts, distributed by Columbia Pictures, from 1948 until 1959. During this time it also produced television commercials, the ground-breaking animated television series The Boing-Boing Show (1956–1957), and the feature-length cartoon, 1001 Arabian Nights (1959). Although UPA continued as a business entity into the 21st century, its aesthetic significance and influence effectively ended with its theatrical shorts.
UPA animators, most of them graduates of college art programs, had become frustrated with the stratified studio production system pioneered by Walt Disney and with Disney’s relatively realistic character animation, both of which had been widely imitated. Language of Vision (1944) by Gyorgy Kepes, head of the Light and Color curriculum at Chicago’s New Bauhaus, significantly influenced UPA animators with its notions of the educational function of visual art and its analysis of design components.