Object Timeline

1946

  • Work on this object began.

1949

  • Work on this object ended.

2017

2021

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Print, United Productions of America Graphic Identity, ca. 1947

This is a Print. It is dated ca. 1947 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is lithograph on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This 1947 print by Alvin Lustig presents an early logo design for the Hollywood animation production studio United Productions of America (UPA), founded in 1943 and primarily active through 1960. The logo design’s bold black circle with its vertical brown band embraces a simple and modern approach to the forms of a classic film reel, and the gestural qualities of the “UPA” letters reflect Lustig’s interest in biomorphic surrealism. The printed textile “Incantation,” which Lustig also designed in 1947 and which is in Cooper Hewitt’s collection, features a similarly fine linear motif.
Lustig created two stationery programs for United Productions of America. He designed this first logo in 1947 for a fee of $250.00 and a second trademark in 1950 that became the iconic graphic identity of the studio throughout its heyday. Cooper Hewitt’s holdings of Lustig’s work include UPA letterhead featuring the second trademark—adding this first logo design to the collection will create a compelling comparison while enriching understanding of Lustig’s work for corporate clients.
UPA’s choice to commission Lustig for the design is especially important—the animation studio pioneered the look of the “modern cartoon” that came to define 1950s animation. Rather than creating movement and realism in every frame, UPA used the style of modern graphic design to develop a contemporary approach to animation. As Lustig was one of the leading graphic designers at the time, his logo designs for the studio serve as further evidence of their embrace of and interest in modern graphics.
More broadly, the print also complements Cooper Hewitt’s larger holdings of Lustig’s designs, particularly the spare geometric book covers he designed for publisher New Directions, and it relates to more contemporary works in the museum's collection, such as Paula Scher’s 1984–85 Manhattan Graphics logo mockups.

It is credited Gift of Stephen Van Dyk.

Its dimensions are

22.2 × 23.5 cm (8 3/4 × 9 1/4 in.)

It is inscribed

Printed in white text, vertically, on brown bar: UNITED PRODUCTIONS OF AMERICA hollywood, california

Cite this object as

Print, United Productions of America Graphic Identity, ca. 1947; lithograph on paper; 22.2 × 23.5 cm (8 3/4 × 9 1/4 in.); Gift of Stephen Van Dyk; 2017-22-1

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