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Oskar Fischinger (1900 - 1967)

Image from Oskar Fischinger's Allegreto


Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) was an avant-garde animator and painter. Among his works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is part of the United States National Film Registry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Fischinger [Oct 2004]


Film historians have made much, and rightly so, of the enormous influence of 1930s German and Austrian emigres on the American film scene and by extension on American culture in general. Alongside auteurs like Murnau, Wilder, Preminger, Ulmer, et al. were artists toiling in more rareified realms. One of the most important (and lately overlooked) of these was the avant-garde animator and painter Oskar Fischinger. He worked at UFA in the 1920s, designed special effects for Lang's silent sci-fi flick Woman on the Moon, fled the Nazis for making "degenerate" art, created shorts for Paramount and M-G-M, spent a year with Disney on Fantasia, had a stint with Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre, and settled in Hollywood, where he lived, painted, and animated until his death in 1967.

Fischinger was born in Germany in 1900. An engineer and draftsman by trade, he co-owned an animation company in Munich by age 22, producing a variety of experimental films. His early artistic goal was to combine two of his great passions, music and the graphic arts. To this end, he experimented with photographing multiple forms melting wax, cardboard cutouts, swirling liquids. According to Fischinger historian William Moritz, he devised "a machine that would slice very thin layers from a prepared block of wax, with a camera synchronized to take one frame of the remaining surface of the block. Any kind of image could be built into the wax block a circle getting smaller would be a simple cone, for example." Later he would create a Technicolor-style camera for Bela Gaspar that he would utilize in his early color films. Fischinger's technical and creative efforts were applied, along with scores from Bach and Beethoven, to a hitherto unseen abstract art form known as "visual music." A long-overdue reassessment of his achievement in this area is now possible, thanks to this thrilling seven-film compilation (the first of a projected series) that samples his work from 1927 through 1947. -- 1998 by Gary Morris http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/22/fischinger.html [Oct 2004]

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