Oskar Fischinger

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Oskar Fischinger

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An interest in combining music and conceptual designs brought Fischinger to experiment with sound synchronization on film (this was a newer process at the time). He created a series of works titled Studies. Fischinger achieved success in 1930 with extensive screenings and distribution of the Studies, throughout Europe, America and Japan. His 1934 Muratti cigarette commercial brought even more acclaim.  Hollywood directors noticed his work in 1935, at the Brussels and Venice Festival.

Fischinger was offered a contract from Paramount Pictures and readily accepted the opportunity to escape the looming Nazi rise to power. In Hollywood his first project was Allegretto, for Paramount.  His work is an obvious influence for Fantasia. He was hired to work on the sequence, Toccata and Fugue. Fischinger would leave the studio after nine months. after Fantasia, he made An Optical Poem for MGM.

He received funding from the Guggenheim Foundation for several films, but after 1947 he never received funding for a film again. He made a few commercials, and tests for unmade films. He would work on his own personal films and paintings.

Family and early life

Wilhelm Oskar Fischinger was born in Gelnhausen, Germany, the fourth of six children. His father ran a drugstore and his mother’s family owned a combination brewery, tavern, and bowling alley. Fitting well to an interest in music, Fischinger was an apprentice for an organ-building firm until the owners were drafted. He then worked as a draftsman for an architect’s office until also called into service. When he was rejected, he and his family moved to Frankfurt. Attending a trade school and working as an apprentice in a factory, Fischinger obtained an engineer’s diploma.

Career outline

  •  1921 Theater critic Bernhard Diebold introduced Fischinger to pioneer of abstract film Walter Ruttmann. 
  • 1924 American Entrepreneur Louis Seel commissions satirical cartoons. 
  • 1927 Fischinger leaves Munich for Berlin in a move to escape bill collectors. He shoots single frames of film during his 350-mile walk that became the film, “Walking from Munich to Berlin” 
  • 1928 Works on Fritz Lang’s “Die Frau im Mond” 
  • 1930s Fischinger creates the series of popular Studies, plus advertising and other films. 
  • 1934 After abstract art was deemed “Degenerate”, Fischinger secretly began work on his abstract film Composition in Blue 
  • 1936 February, Fischinger arrives in Hollywood after being called to America to work by Paramount Pictures. 
  • 1949 “Motion Painting No.1″ wins the Grand Prix at Brussels International Experimental Film Competition.

Personal style

Visual Music


Walter Ruttmann, pioneer of abstract film Emile Cohl, French animator

Honors and awards

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1977 Grand Prix for “Motion Painting No.1″ Brussels International Experimental Film Competition Motion Painting No. 1 was selected for The National Film Registry, Library of Congress, 1997




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