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Oskar Fischinger: Visual Music

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Oskar Fischinger: Visual Music

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The phrase “before their time” has been so overused it has become hackneyed and devoid of meaning but for Oskar Fischinger it remains wholly appropriate. 

Fischinger left Nazi Germany for Hollywood in 1936 as Hitler cracked down on abstract art. His impeccably-created stop-motion animations, synchronised to music, were a painstaking endeavour that he would obsess over for months or years.

Before computer software, the animations were a labour of love, requiring its creators to meticulously plan the arrangements and make sure they were in time with the music.

"Music is not limited to the world of sound. There exists a music of the visual world," is one of Fischinger's famous quotes.

Study no. 2, c. 1930, silent
Study no. 5, 1930
Study no. 8, 1931
Coloratura, 1932
Muratti greift ein (Muratti Marches On), 1934
Swiss Trip (Rivers and Landscapes), 1934
Komposition in Blau (Composition in Blue), 1935
An American March, 1941
Pierrette I, 1924-26
1920s-30s Home Movies and Experiments, Berlin (black and white)
Squares fragment (1934) and various 1930s color animation tests
"Concerto" and newly discovered animation tests made in Hollywood, 1945-46
Excerpts from 8mm Home Movies at Wonderland Park, Los Angeles (c. 1959-1962) 
(DVD also contains a booklet)

Oskar Fischinger’s ground-breaking style of animation changed filmmaking and his creation, Allegretto, is recognised as one of the greatest pieces in the history of visual music.
Mr Fischinger would often spend months or years finalising and perfecting his work and ensuring all his arrangements were in time with his music.

1. He fled Adolf Hitler’s Germany in 1936
Many artists and intellectuals were labelled degenerates by the Nazi party and Mr Fischinger was forced to flee his native country for Hollywood. Executives at Paramount offered him a job, providing him with an opportunity to escape the Nazi regime.

2. He created the special effects for Woman in the Moon
The 1929 blockbuster was one of the first ever serious science fiction rocket films and is considered a classic. Despite breaking his ankle while working on the project, Mr Fischinger’s input is considered to be his first great contribution to cinema.

3. He was hired to work on Walt Disney’s Fantastia but quit 
Mr Fischinger walked away from helping to design the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor sequence that opens Disney’s Fantasia after his designs were altered to show more realistic shapes.

“One thing I definitely found out: that no true work of art can be made with that procedure used in the Disney Studio,” he reportedly said.

4. He invented the Lumigraph
In the 1940s Mr Fichsinger invented a visual instrument which he called the Lumigraph. It created lights to accompany music and required two people to operate it. He performed with the instrument on several occasion and amazed audiences with the images.

5. He created more than 50 short films
Mr Fischinger was a prolific and dedicated artist and throughout the course of his lifetime, created more than 50 short films and 800 canvases.

(The Independent, 2017)

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