Red & Green Concetric – 1952 – Oil painting.
© Elfriede Fischinger Trust
“..it is only that MOTION PAINTING N°1, as it unfolds itself, offers the viewer the same deep emotional feeling that he can receive from good music. Thus we find that music is not limited to the World of sound;there also exists a music of the visual World.”
Fischinger, Oskar (1951)
After Fischinger’s passing away, it is reported in an interview with his wife that he had always wanted to create a feature film, or as she expressed, “an audio-visual abstract concert feature”. Fischinger’s work is undeniably the ultimate expression of a profound and life-long search for a ‘visual music’ in the early 20th century. It is interesting to note that although he was first and foremost a filmmaker, he shared a growing interest amongst some of the greatest European artists of his time. That interest had its foundations in music and its abstract nature as an art form. Looking at the above examples, we can acknowledge a certain sense of rhythm and composition of graphical elements that were much a part of the aesthetic of his era and surroundings. Some may even be forgiven for reading Mondrian or Klee in the above works, for Fischinger was indeed conscious of the Bauhaus tradition developing in Weimar and the works of Klee, Kandinsky and Laszlo Maholy-Nagy. Maholy-Nagy had even rented Fischinger’s films on various occasions and had met with him during his time in Germany.
However, Fischinger was not only pushing abstraction forward, along the lines of the great modernists of his time. He was also pushing the form into a completely new medium that would lay the foundations for generations after. Len Lye, McLaren, Saul Bass, Binder, and right up to the present day. Fischinger had coined the word ‘Raumlichtmusik’, meaning ‘Space Light Music’. “Of this art….Plastic, dance, painting, music become one.” The ‘audio-visual abstract concert feature’ is only just beginning to find its place within contemporary culture, everything from art installations, danse, VJing to theatre and music concerts. I’m sure Fischinger would be overwhelmed with today’s plethora of visual musics in retrospect to how he fought, often alone, on a vision that was given little light in his days.
Fischinger, Oskar “Sounding Ornaments”
First Published in Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, July 8. 1932
Fischinger, Oskar 1951 “A Statement About Painting”
The Fischinger Trust
“Space Light Art”-Early Abstract Cinema and Multimedia, 1900-1959
White Noise Exhibition Catalog. ACMI Melbourne. 2005
Moritz , William “You Can’t Get Then From Now”
Southern California Art Magazine, No. 29, 1981
Moritz, William Oskar Fischinger : Artist of the Century
Exhibition catalog. KINETICA 2. Los Angeles: The iotaCenter, 2000.