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A Retrospective

September 20 to October 18, 1988
Reception Sunday. September 18, 1988   4 tp 6 p.m.

Linear Abstraction  1951 Oil/canvas  9 1/4x 6 1/4

"Fast moving times are exciting times. In times rich in producing inventions there is also a challenge and quickening in all fields of human endeavor"                                                                                                                                                                                       Oskar Fischinger 1956

Challenged by the progressive currents of the twentieth-century, OSKAR FISCHINGER, one of Los Angeles's pioneer modernists, gave himself over wholeheartedly to manifold invention. An easel painter, vanguard filmmaker, inventor and student of music and mysticism, Oskar Fischinger stood as a modern version of the Renaissance man. Born in the German village of Gelnhausen on June 22, 1900, he trained as an architect and engineer in Frankfurt before entering the field of avant-garde cinema in the early twenties. A decade later he was heading his own production studio in Berlin and earning international recognition for his work in abstract animation. Contributing to this reputation were his black and-white studies, non-objective motion pictures generated from charcoal drawings. As early ventures in experimental film contemporary with the work of Viking Eggeling and Hans Richter, these Studies stand as monuments in the field of cinematic art.

With Hitler's rise to power Fischinger fled Berlin, arriving in Hollywood in 1936. Between assignments with movie studios-he worked at Paramount, MGM and Disney-he begin to paint on canvas. EXPERIMENT 1937, one of those early works, reveals Fischinger's interest in incorporating cinematic motion, rhythm, light and depth into his easel paintings. Sometimes, as in PENETRATING FORMS 1937, RESONANCE 1949 and PULSATION 1952, that movement evolves in flowing waves, swelling and ebbing in fluid glissades; at other times, as in ANIMATION STUDY 1936 and BLUE TRIANGLES 1949,it proceeds in plummeting bursts. Whether leisured and languid or fast and staccato, this motion transpires in a non-objective vehicle of geometric and organic form.

Refusing to adhere to critical fiats which in the 1950s mandated flatness, Fischinger' soeuvre unabashedly revels in sensations of projective depth. Evidencing this marked spatiality are among others, SPACE COMPOSITION 1943, LINES AND FIELDS ON WHITE 1950 and LINEAR display surety of hand and an interest in complex perspectives. This fascination with the third dimension led to Stereo films and paintings in the late 1940s and 1950s-two of which are here on exhibit-and to the prediction, in work, such as RESONANCE 1949 and SPACE AND MOTION STUDIES, c1947 of the perceptual tumbers of Optical art

Fischinger oeuver, however in contradistinction to Op, couches these spatial dynamics in evocative terms which often imply infinite cosmic depths SPHERES 1941, IN ORBIT P57 and BLUE ARCS 1960, for instance, suggest planetarv bodies afloat in aerial space Released from the earth's gravitational pull These colored globes buoyantly, soarin a hortizoned expanse which for the artist a scholar of Easter mysticism, connected a resonant Spiritual Void

Concerned with more than mere formalist issues, Fischinger like Bauhaus master PauI Klee whom he greatly admired, sought to invoke in his abstractions Nature's operative laws. As a result, his forms in the spirit of Klee's, maintain an aura of vital forces - of growing, maturing and evolving in emulation of the powers that animate the cosmos to enter a Fischinger painting is to transcend the restraints of particular tirrie and to touch upon universals. It is this voyage he offers the viewer, launching thought visions on the winds of galactic visions into trancendent flight, that Fischinger's achievement resides

Susan Ehrlich Ph.D. 1988
Moritz, William
The Films of Oskar Fischinger
Film Culture 1074 #58-59-60

  SPHERES                   1941                    OIL/CANVAS                              18X18 INCHES