Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) embodied the modernist ideal of the maladaptive artist so well that a balanced evaluation of his work as filmmaker and painter depends on one’s ability to withhold automatic beatification based solely on his biography. Born and educated in Germany, exiled to Los Angeles when Hitler came to power and abstraction was decreed a “degenerate art,” Fischinger was an uncompromising abstractionist who throughout his life retained a dogged faith in the transcendental potential of pure geometry and color. Persecuted in Germany and condemned to grinding poverty after he settled in L.A., Fischinger’s devotion to the integrity of his art was exemplary.
Yet the overall significance of his work remains unclear. Was he a visionary whose films presaged music videos, op art, psych-edelia, and fractal imagery? Or was he a stubborn crank whose purist fanaticism cut him off from the world and from the anarchic inventiveness he displayed in his earliest films? This show, which brings together a selection of the artist’s films transferred to video and some 40 of the artist’s artworks (many of them executed after poverty forced Fischinger to give up filmmaking) is an opportunity to assess both the artist’s uneven legacy and that of European modernism.
Contains the following short films:
In Berlin Studio
Motion Painting No.1
Wax Experiments Footage