Oskar Fischinger (22 June 1900, Gelnhausen, Germany — 31 January 1967, Los Angeles) was an abstract animator, experimental filmmaker, and painter. He made over 50 short films, and painted c. 900 canvases which are in museums, galleries and collections worldwide. Among his film works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is part of the United States National Film Registry. Mostly, he considers himself an experimental filmmaker, and he embraced modernism. He believes in the artistic creativity of individuals and was against any studio systems, claiming that all art is a piece of its creator. He was very interested in combining sound and sight. Some of his most famous films were synaesthetic, in which he attempted to visually animate sound.

Career and Works

At the age of 20, Oskar Fischinger first started exploring cinematic techniques in painting. By 1922, Fischinger was producing abstract films that included the representation of visual music and a synthesis of motion and sound. A few years after that, a series of films each with a length of three minutes that included approximately 5000 drawings synchronized and coordinated to music were in theaters advertising popular records. Before the rise of MTV, these were the first music videos. Warner Bros. used a similar technique of advertising their music with animation; a story would be closely synchronized with a song to which Warner Bros. owned the rights.

Fischinger started off with black and white works such as Studie Nr.6 in 1930. However, by 1935, Fischinger incorporated color into his films. After immigrating to America in 1936 to work for Paramount Studios, Fischinger produced Allegretto, a colored abstract film. In 1937, An Optical Poem, a short film for MGM, was released in theatres. Hence, Disney hired him in 1938 to help animate some parts of their feature film Fantasia. However, after a year into his work Fischinger resigned from the project. Disney’s idea of representing sound and music conflicted drastically with the abstract world Fischinger created. His style included the illustration of what music look likes, not how it is made.

By the early 1940s, Fischinger exhibited some of his creative art pieces in art galleries in New York. During Word War II, his films were screened in New York. These were some of the main influences on future abstract expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock.

By the end of the 1940s, Fischinger produced two stunning films: Radio Dynamics and Motion Painting No.1 (1947). By 1952, he also produced a Stereo Film.

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