2022-11-27 14:09:36

Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation



During the 1970s,when I was a graduate student in film studies, UPA had a presence in the academy and among cinephiles that it has since lost. With 16mmdistribution thriving and the films only around twenty years old, one could still see Rooty Toot Toot or The Unicorn in the Garden occasionally. In the decades since, UPA and the modern style it was so central in fostering during the 1950s have receded from sight. Of the studios own films, only Gerald McBoing Boing and its three sequels have a DVD to themselves, and fans must search out sources for old VHScopies of others. Most modernist-influenced films made by the less prominent studios of the era are completely unavailable.

UPA remains, however, part of the standard story of film history. Following two decades of rule by the realist-oriented Walt Disney product, the small studio boldly introduced a more abstract, stylized look borrowed from modernism in the fine arts. Other smaller studios followed its lead. John Hubley, sometimes in partnership with his wife Faith, became a canonical name in animation studies. But the trend largely ended after the 1950s. Now its importance is taken for granted. David Bordwell and I

followed the pattern by mentioning UPA briefly in our Film History: An Introduction, where we reproduce a black-and-white frame from the Hubleys Moonbird, taken from a worn 16 mm print. By now, UPA receives a sort of vague respect, while few actually see anything beyond the three or four most famous titles.

All this makes Amid Amidis Cartoon Modern an important book. Published in an attractive horizontal format well suited to displaying film images, it provides hundreds of color drawings, paintings, cels, storyboards, and other design images from 1950s cartoons that display the influence of modern art. Amidi sticks to the U.S. animation industry and does not cover experimental work or formats other than cel animation. The book brings the innovative style of the 1950s back to our attention and provides a veritable archive of rare, mostly unpublished images for teachers, scholars, and enthusiasts. Seeking these out and making sure that they reproduced well, with a good layout and faithful color, was a major accomplishment, and the result is a great service to the field.

The collection of images is so attractive, interesting, and informative, that it deserved an equally useful accompanying text. Unfortunately, both in terms of organization and amount of information provided, the book has major textual problems.

Amidi states his purpose in the introduction: establish the place of 1950s animation design in the great Modernist tradition of the artsIn fact, he barely

discusses modernism across the arts. He is far more concerned with identifying the individual filmmakers, mainly designers, layout artists, and directors, and with describing how the more pioneering ones among them managed to insert modernist style into the products of what he sees as the old-fashioned, conservative animation industry of the late 1940s. When those filmmakers loved jazz or studied at an art school or expressed an admiration for, say, Fernand Leacute;ger, Amidimentions it. He may occasionally refer to Abstract Expressionism or Pop Art, but he relies upon the reader to come to the book already knowing the artistic trends of the twentieth century in both America and Europe. At least twice he mentions that Gyorgy Kepess important 1944 book The Language of Vision was a key influence on some of the animators inclined toward modernism, but he never explains what they might have derived from it. There is no attempt to suggest how modernist films (e.g. Ballet meacute;canique, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) might have influenced those of Hollywood. On the whole, the other arts and modernism are just assumed, without explanation or specification, to be the context for these filmmakers and films.

There seem to me three distinct problems with Amidis approach: his broad, all-encompassing definition of modernism; his disdain for more traditional animation, especially that of Disney; and his layout of the chapters.

For Amidi, stylized greeting cards. He does not distinguish Cubism from Surrealism or explain

what strain of modernism he has in mind. He does not explicitly lay out a difference between modernist-influenced animation and animation that is genuinely a part of modern/modernist art. Thus there is no mention of figures like Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute, though there seems a possibility that their work influenced the mainstream filmmakers dealt with in the book.

This may be because Amidi sees modernisms entry into American animation only secondarily as a matter of direct influences from the other arts. Instead, for him the impulse toward modernism is as a movement away from conventional Hollywood animation. Disney is seen as having during the 1930s and 1940s established realism as the norm, so anything stylized would count as modernism. Amidi ends up talking about a lot of rather cute, appealing films as if they were just as innovative as the work of John Hubley. At one point he devotes ten pages to the output of Playhouse Pictures, a studio that made television ads which Amidi describes as modernecause was driven by a desire to entertain and less concerned with making graphic statementsI suspect Playhouse rates such extensive coverage largely because its founder, Adrian Woolery, had worked as a production manager and cameraman at UPA. At another point Amidi refers to Warner Bros. animation designer Maurice Nobles work as

This willingness to cast the modernist net very wide also helps explain why so many conventional looking images from ads are included in the book. Amidi seems

not to have considered



Amidi, Cartoonmodern:styleanddesigninfiftiesanimation.ChronicleBooks,(2006):292-296.






Amidi在介绍中阐述了他的目的:在艺术的伟大现代主义传统中建立20世纪50年代的动画设计,事实上,他几乎没有。在艺术上讨论现代主义。他更关心的是如何确定个人电影人,主要是设计师、版画艺术家和导演,并描述了他们中那些比较前卫的人如何成功地将现代主义风格融入到他所认为的20世纪40年代后期老式保守的动画产业的产品中。当这些电影人热爱爵士乐,或者在艺术学校学习,或者对弗尔南多·莱格(Fernand Leger)的作品表示钦佩时,他说:“这是我的作品。”他可能偶尔提到抽象表现主义或波普艺术,但他依靠读者来读这本书,已经了解了二十世纪美国和欧洲的艺术趋势。至少两次他提到了Gyorgy Kepes在1944年的重要著作《视觉语言》是对一些倾向于现代主义的动画师的重要影响,但他从来没有解释过他们可能从中衍生出什么。没有人试图去暗示现代主义电影(例如,芭蕾舞剧《卡里加里博士》)可能对好莱坞的影响。总的来说,其他的艺术和现代主义只是假设,没有解释或规范,是这些电影制作人和电影的背景。


对于Amidi, 程式化的贺卡。他不把立体派与超现实主义或解释区分开来。


这可能是因为Amidi认为现代主义进入美国动画只是次要的,因为它直接影响了其他艺术。相反,对他来说,对现代主义的冲动是一种远离传统好莱坞动画的运动。在20世纪30年代和40年代,迪斯尼被认为是现实主义的典范,所以任何风格化的东西都会被视为现代主义。阿米迪最后谈到了许多相当可爱的、吸引人的电影,就好像它们和约翰·休布利的作品一样具有创新性。一度他写了十页的输出剧场的图片,一个工作室,电视广告Amidi描述现代 因为是由渴望娱乐和更少的关心使图形报表我怀疑剧场利率如此广泛的报道很大程度上是因为其创始人,阿德里安bull;利曾担任生产经理在UPA和摄影师。在另一个地方,Amidi指的是华纳兄弟动画设计师莫里斯·诺布尔的作品。


没有考虑过,可能会有一个普通的,日常的风格,具有广泛的吸引力,可能最终源于一些现代主义的影响,这些影响已经过滤掉,不仅仅是进入动画,而是更广泛地融入到文化中。在20世纪40年代,尤其是20世纪50年代,现代设计有了这样的普及,它发生在美国流行文化的许多领域,包括建筑、室内设计和时尚。托马斯·海恩(Thomas Hine)在他1999年出版的书《Populuxe:从尾端和电视晚餐到芭比娃娃和防辐射物掩体》(Populuxe)中谈到了这一点。海恩斯不包括电影,但我们能看到的在卡通现代的插图中贯穿的风格与流行的电影有很多相似之处。皮克斯在《超人特工队》的设计中向他们致敬。



在Amidi的观点中,包括华纳兄弟在内的其他动画工作室,在整体上同样抵制现代主义,尽管他们的盔甲上偶尔也会有刺。作者选择性地表扬了个别的创新者。关于米高梅的一个非常简短的条目提到了Tex Avery,主要是他1951年的短句,交响曲的俚语。华纳兄弟公司(Warner Bros.)的莫里斯·诺布尔(Maurice Noble)赢得了Amidi的好评;他一直为查克·琼斯的漫画提供设计,最著名的是什么是歌剧《博士》?


大部分都是不熟悉的工作室,我们最终进入了最后的章节:Terrytoons, UPA, Walt Disney, Walter Lantz,华纳兄弟,除了Lantz,这些都是与主题相关的主要工作室。Amidi只对读者做了简单的介绍,没有概述,所以没有设置为什么UPA是如此重要,或者是迪斯尼提供了什么样的风格的创新,这是本书的主要主题。



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