An endlessly unfolding rose, the “profound rose” of Borges, achieved (by report) through a technique of slicing into a complex structure of wax.


Seelische Konstruktionen

A game of silhouettes, as much as anything like a rare construction by Merce Cunningham, the “Spartan Maieutics” of a conversation by sign language.


München-Berlin Wandering

The old country as seen on a walking tour with a motion-picture camera.


Studie Nr. 8

The glowing rhombs of the Star Gate in 2001: A Space Odyssey figure in Fischinger’s paintings of twenty and thirty years earlier (and it will be remembered that he worked at M-G-M for a time). This scintillating display of white figures on a black ground has a discernible foreglimpse of Kubrick, set to music by Dukas (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice).


Studie Nr. 10

Beckett, who is not to be appeased with large views and reflexive wonderments, has a joke on Kandinsky’s æsthetic that may be no more worthless than his jibe at Valéry, or no less, but it can’t be Point and Line to Plane he means. It’s a textbook, as Rod Serling would say.

It seems to me that Fischinger has an idea here (set to ballet music from Aida) that might occur somewhere in Kandinsky’s pædagogicum, or not, to wit the point and the line meet in the arc, somehow or other. It’s a good way of defining an arc, and the effort to prove it or anyway develop an expression of it makes for a very entertaining four and a half minutes of “the white curve on a dark ground we call thought” (Breton).



The ins and outs of circles (blue and red, Tannhäuser and Sigurd Jorsalfar). Extraordinarily, text: All circles hold!


Muratti greift ein

Cigarettes marching in a patterns-and-patterns arrangement, anticipating the toy soldiers of Disney’s march, and coeval with Laurel & Hardy’s.


Komposition in Blau

The physical elements of stop-motion as pure color (cubes, flat shapes, strips, circles) rhythmically accompanying the overture to Nicolai’s Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor. Columns of color emerge from the ground, dip down from the upper frame to splash pools of color, it’s the base of Clokey passing through Arp on its way to Agnes Martin by way of Albers.



First, it’s cel animation. The backgrounds are reminiscent of Wachsexperimente. They are two sets of concentric circles, one expanding and one contracting, followed by a single expanding set. The color sequence is from cool to warm.

Cel animation gives Fischinger more flexibility. He doesn’t Mickey Mouse the action generally speaking. It’s an evocation of mood and timbre and vocalization, created as an independent, you might almost say free-standing abstract composition.

Ralph Rainger shortly thereafter co-wrote “Thanks for the Memory”. His music is charming to the point of distraction from the dazzling brilliance of Fischinger’s work.


Motion Painting No. 1

“The spiral is a spiritualized circle,” Nabokov says. “In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free.” Fischinger paints spiral formulations on glass, disposed as color harmonies, then built up layer on layer in a stop-motion relative of Clouzot’s technique for Le Mystère Picasso, to the accompaniment of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto (first movement).

Squares of color build up rapidly, become two abstract figures, then a landscape. A bold vertical spiral appears, then organic forms, then the spiral again, this time circling a vertical shaft. Spirals (blue, red, yellow) painted flat (“A colored spiral in a small ball of glass...”) begin to fill the frame. Orange-red brushwork overlays this, and the composition becomes very dense. Large spirals dominate the composition again (blue, red), organic relations are made, vegetable or floral forms are created. The whole thing becomes a network of lines, which are finally overlaid with squares of color that eventually achieve blankness.

A capital survey of painting from Klee (it might suggest his Pedagogical Sketchbook) to Albers, with a bit of Max Ernst. Then it continues in segmented yellow rectangles, small amounts of blue, then red. The frame is filled with angles, setting off a new composition of solid diagonal lines, curves are introduced, the grand culmination is a compendium of Fischinger’s œuvre as a painter in constellations and Western abstraction, with a segment of his earlier animation (arcs in motion).


Stereo Film

This very short film has a diagonal form filled in with color rectangles, twice, and a zoom. Light and dark are distinguished, it appears to have been a study (deriving from Fischinger’s stereo paintings), and is said to date from the early Fifties.

My notes from the World 3-D Film Expo, where it received one of its rare screenings, indicate it was painted on glass.