Center for Visual Music
CVM's Fischinger pages: Texts
Regarding Motion Painting No. 1:
Hilla Rebay, Director, Museum of Non-Objective Painting. Excerpt from letter to Oskar Fischinger, May 12, 1948
"...it has no artistic worth -- no rhythm -- just dull pattern decoration, like wall paper. It has no rhythmic spiritual inbetween, but is cheap and easy -- so all you told me was untrue. It is as stuck together and disorderly as can be, and nothing in it proves that you ever understood what I have been trying to teach you. It is unrhythmic, and I am even beginning to think the films that you had formerly made of rhythmic precision, were never done by yourself.....I told you to send the original film because we do not wish the film to be sold to anyone else, although you did not keep our name on it, which is fortunate because it is almost valueless from the artistic point of view -- and you should not spread such trash!"
Detail, animation drawing from Allegretto
Oskar Fischinger, letter to Paramount in resignation, 1936, after discovering that Paramount would not approve the printing of his film Radio Dynamics (later finished as Allegretto) in color. In 1941, Fischinger was able to purchase for $500 the rights and the film's original materials back from Paramount. It was then completedin 1943 and called Allegretto.
NEW Excerpts from unpublished typescript, 1947 [excerpts were incorporated into a letter to Hans Richter, this was one of the drafts before the final letter. Illustrations are CVM's and are not in original]
Corrections to Richters Article about the History of the Avantgarde [CVM Note: Richter's article was published in the San Francisco Museum of Art's Art in Cinema catalog, 1946 ]
Walter Ruttmann started 1919 and not 1922....About Eggeling: I feel sure Eggeling started also 1919...
About myself; everything Richter says is wrong except the Year in which I am born, and that I live in Hollywood.
I did not start as a Painter.
I did not make my first abstract attempt in Ruttmann's film; Melody of the World 1929.
Not all of my films are soundfilms.
My films are no illustrations of music.
I started, first Organbuilding, then Architecture, then Construction of machines, became Engineer and Inventor.
Made my first abstract attempts 1919. Invented that same year the process and machine to transform the third dimension in a 2 dimensional picture into motion. [Link to 1927 article about Wax Slicing Machine ]
...sold a license of that Invention to Ruttmann in 1920 and made about 3 experimental reels of absolute films between 1920-22 without music....
...showed my absolute films with A. Lasclos Farblichtorgan...then I made more experiments in absolute forms and motions...went (walked) from Munich to Berlin. Again experimented, showed my films here and there, had my own studio in FriedrichStr. took orders for the Industry to make a living made Advertisingfilms, got a job with Fritz Lang making the Trick-filmwork in Frau im Mond...when working for Fritz Lang....I broke a leg. This was the end of the silent film.
In 1928 I saw the possibility to produce absolute films, which were perfectly synchronized to music. Records had to be used to be run in the motion picture theatres. I made my Studies N. 1 to 4 in these years 1928-29, in dividing the record in single frame sections it was possible to check every wave in the record put it down on paper and had so an exact plan to work with.
Music became something like [an] architectural groundplan - time and rythmus were given and the mood and feeling were blown in the optical motions. It was like with Dancing, the Dancer may listen to his own inner feeling and express it [gentle] or forceful - there is no music necessary. But the public, does the People every people hear the inner secret music of the Dancer's creations? no. They see but do not understand because they do not hear (in the same time). So to get a stronger feeling a better understanding to the Dance notes are accentuating rythmus-mood feeling bring it closer and then the Dancer uses whole musics - Dancing the music to besides to express himself.
Nevertheless the Dancer develops his own...way of expression, if he is the least creative.
The same it is with the absolute film; music is used to put it over, but the development of optical expression, the invention of new ways of motion in coordination with the Rythmus given in the music...the invention of new Ways of motion is the main...Idea, the main force, and the time - or Rhythmus coordination with music is secondary of less importance.
People who say that [these] films are illustrations to music, are...poor in their imagination...or say so intentionally to lessen the impact of these works (for personal reasons) (Probably Richters reason). I found out this way of saying - (illlustrations of music) is mostly used by people who feel themselfs [sic] to be my adversarys [sic] because maybe subconsciously they would like to have done it themselfes but for some reason they were unable to do it.
Febr. 1936 I came over to America under contract with Paramount. (to be continued)
Excerpts from various correspondence
About the word experimental.
First it is nothing but a word and all words mean the same. My own feeling about that word is somehow mixed with hesitation. It is something of a stumbling block - frankly I did not like it too much. I tried hard to avoid it whenever possible. I would rather prefer the expression Avantgarde-film.
My very early films from 1919 til 1928 I used to call Experiments - Then after I found that most simple, most concentrated Technic [sic] as used in the Studies - from then on I called my films Studies - Later with the coming of the Color into the films a new searching for a simplified technik began which resulted in Motion Painting No. 1. For this film the world Experimental is not a very fitting expression. definitely not....
If one searches for a Method or technic of expression he may be still experimenting.
If one has established a way to doing then he may Studie the application of it.
If the technical difficulties are overcome and the Studies had led to a point where techic can be forgotten and the more essential things of Art-creation Art revelation the listing of the Voice of the unknown becomes important than one is out of the field of experimentation and one becomes whatever one may call such creative artist like composers - painters, sculptors etc..
...Van Gogh did not paint experiments. Neither did Beethoven write Experimental Symphonies....
Besides that word experiment has that nasty meaning of testing and fooling around with a million things like crossing cats with rabbits and lemons with potatoes, etc. etc...ad infinitum...
(from letter to Rene Micha, 1949. Collection Center for Visual Music )
NEW Related correspondence on external sites
Letter, Paul Hindemith to Gertrud Hindemith, 1939, in which he mentions Fantasia and Fischinger. Excerpted in Draganski, Donald, "Paul Hindemith meets Walt Disney" on Michael Barrier's online blog, Feb. 2007. Hindemith Foundation.
Manuscripts, correspondence, typescripts are from the collection of and (c) Center for Visual Music.
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