The mid-century was a fraught time for Disney: the war was over – the studio was recovering but relations were more strained than ever between the Disney brothers (Walt as always wanted to spend the company money on cool gadgets and ambitious projects while Roy his CFO brother held him in check and threatened him with the wrath of the shareholders).
The animator’s strike of the previous decade was long settled but resentments still simmered.
Disneyland was on the horizon and the studio was able to make ends meet by taking on commercial work.
Meanwhile Disney’s ranks of artists were swelling with modernists for whom the abstraction of animation bore some kind of tantalizing family resemblance to the abstract art movement.
They wanted to experiment with form – with color and above all with motion.