Arts

Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer of Abstract Cinema. Exhibition

Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer of Abstract Cinema. Exhibition
Yareah Magazine

Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer of the animation film and Abstract Cinema. Exhibition in EYE

Oskar Fischinger, still from Kreise (Circles), 1933-34, 35mm, color, sound © Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music

From December 16th 2012 through March 17th 2013, EYE in collaboration with the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles presents a major exhibition on the work of Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer of the animation film and abstract cinema. This German avant-garde filmmaker made short films that were highly influential in the development of the animation film, music video and computer graphics. The exhibition Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction, which also focuses on his earliest experiments and inventions, is accompanied by an extensive film program.

Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction in collaboration with the Center for Visual Music, from December 16th 2012 through March 17th 2013 in EYE, IJpromenade 1, Amsterdam, eyefilm.nl

 Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) ranks as one of the most important film artists of the 20th century, who steered cinema in an entirely new direction in the nineteen twenties, thirties and forties. In his early abstract experiments he strove to develop the purest and clearest visual idiom, stripped of all unnecessary elements. In that respect, Fischinger may be compared to Mondriaan and Malevich, who were in search of the absolute in painting.

 Fischinger was also an inventor of all sorts of ingenious cinematic devices, such as the wax-slicing machine and other special effects. He was one of the first animators to couple abstract images with music and rhythms, long before the arrival of the music video. The eye-catching animations by the “Wizard of Friedrichstrasse,” as he was known, also attracted the attention of directors, such as Fritz Lang and Ernst Lubitsch, the latter of whom invited him to Hollywood.

Image 2. Oskar Fischinger in his Hollywood studio with panels from the film Motion Painting no 1 (1947) © Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music

Oskar Fischinger in his Hollywood studio with panels from the film Motion Painting no 1 (1947) © Fischinger Trust, courtesy Center for Visual Music

In 1936, Fischinger turned his back on Hitler’s Germany and left for the US. He worked briefly at the Disney studio, where he designed an animated sequence for Fantasia. His ideas about abstract animation were sharply at odds with the mass-production of Disney. After leaving Disney, Fischinger remained an artistic benchmark for the American avant-garde. Filmmakers such as Norman McLaren, Jordan Belson, John and James Whitney, Len Lye  and Harry Smith were influenced by his films, and even composers such as Edgar Varèse and John Cage were inspired by his theories of sound. Fischinger’s rhythmic animations exerted, even after his death in 1967, a strong influence on the makers of computer graphics and visual effects, designers and animators.

 Never previously exhibited animation drawings

The exhibition Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction shows many of his films and some original, never previously displayed animation drawings that Fischinger used to shoot his films frame for frame, supplemented by paintings, notated music scores and documents. The exhibition also includes rarely shown fragments of Fischinger’s experiments from the nineteen twenties and thirties, which have now been restored.

 Raumlichtkunst

Furthermore, EYE is showing Raumlichtkunst (c. 1926/2012). Raumlichtkunst is the Center for Visual Music’s new recreation from Fischinger’s original 1920s nitrate film material. It is an HD installation of three looped reels of restored abstract film experiments, exhibited digitally on three separate screens, recreating the effect of Oskar Fischinger’s 1920s multiple projector film shows. Fischinger performed these shows in Germany to a variety of percussive music, and wrote about his theories of “A New Art.” A 1927 review praises his “original art vision which can only be expressed through film.” This impressive work opened in June at Tate Modern, London and The Whitney Museum, New York.

 Accompanying program

For the duration of the exhibition, EYE organises a rich accompanying program of films and activities in the auditoria. There is a guided tour or a lecture on Oskar Fischinger at 14.00 hrs every Sunday throughout the exhibition (free on entry to exhibition).

 Publication

A comprehensive and richly illustrated monograph on Fischinger is published to accompany the exhibition. In the publication attention is paid to the positioning of his work within the international avant-garde, to animation, music, painting, Hollywood,

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View Comments (2)
  • CVM

    The above information is incorrect; Fischinger did not perform under the title “Eine Neue Kunst,” he used the title “Raumlichtkunst.” This installation will not be included in the exhibition at EYE

    • martincid

      We have solved the problem. Really sorry. I tried to email you but there’s something wrong. Really sorry. Our apologizes

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