Jules Engel

1909 - 2003 Artist

Page Contents


Jules Engel is a filmmaker, painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and set designer. He was a producer and art director for UPA Films, a seminal group that changed conventional styles of the animated cartoon. UPA (United Productions of America) was founded in 1945 by Stephen Bosustow and a number of artists who left the Disney Studio - including John Hubley, who would shortly create the character of Mr. Magoo. British animator John Smith has commented on the difrerence between Disney and UPA styles: "In Disney's cartoon films. . the rich, even sugary coloring and bulbous forms are matched by movements that resemble a bladder of water moving floppily and sensuously . The sentimentality of mood is matched with cute , coy, easy movement and sadism, by excessive distortion and squashing. UPA artists favor simplicity of form and simplicity of movement, the essence without the frills. Acid colors and sharp forms are matched by movement the way cane, glass, wire would move, springy, whippy, stoccato." And Ralph Stephenson, author of The Animated Film : "In UPA cartoons light fittings hang from nothing, a staircase appears in the void, a door is put on the screen just as one of the characterscomes through it. This sort of surrealism was not only witty, it was entirely appropriate to the medium. The diversification of UPA also encouraged further diversification and made it easier for later avant-garde experimental work by Carmen D'Avino, Robert Breer, Ed Emshwiller, and Teru Murakami."After departing UPA. Engel left for Paria to make experiment al films. Coaraze, received the coveted French Critics Award: Prix Jean Vigo. Engel has made several films on artists. including Louise Nevelson, Max Bill, and Spenish sculptor Miguel Benocal. Ivory Knife, his film on American painter Paul JenkiJlll, won First Prize at the Venice International film festival. Recipient of a Ford Foundation grant to do lithography at Tamarind Workshop, he was invited to be artist and filmmaker-in-residence at Utah State in 1968. His art works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institute, adn teh Whitney Museum. A member of the Executive Board of the Short Branch at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Engel is presently head of the Animation Department at Cal Arts.
[Source: Filmforum Program Notes, 3/21/77]