Oskar Fischinger: Pioneering animator’s five most dazzlingly psychedelic films

The phrase “before their time” has been so overused it has become hackneyed and devoid of meaning but for Oskar Fischinger it remains wholly appropriate. 

Decades before the advent of sophisticated computer software, the pioneering German-American abstract animator created intrepidly ingenious films. He would slave over some of the frame-by-frame stop-motion animations, which were synchronised to music, for months or even years at a time.

Today, Fischinger’s ongoing legacy is being honoured with a Google Doodle which lets you create your very own art in the Fischinger’s distinctive on what would have been the filmmaker’s 117th birthday. 

Oskar Fischinger (Wikimedia Commons)

The artist, who made over 50 short films and painted around 800 canvasses in his lifetime, could probably be best summed up one of his most famous quotes: “Music is not limited to the world of sounds. There exists a music of the visual world”.

Born at the turn of the century in 1900 near Frankfurt, Fischinger trained as a violinist and organ-builder before taking up an interest in film and relocating to Berlin where his abstract films became well-liked – shown beside newsreels in cinemas spanning Europe and America and even Asia.

But like many artists and intellectuals in Nazi Germany, he was forced to flee the regime for the hills of Hollywood in 1936. Before long, the animator, who was born near Frankfurt in 1990, was contributing sequences to Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Pinocchio from his Paramount Pictures office.

Here is a selection of some of Fischinger’s greatest animations.

An Optical Poem (1938)

Studie Number 8 (1931)

Kreise (excerpt) by Oskar Fischinger from CVM on Vimeo.

Composition in Blue (1935)

Composition in Blue (excerpt) by Oskar Fischinger from CVM on

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