|Birth Day:||June 22, 1900|
|Death Date:||Jan 31, 1967 (age 66)|
|Birth Place:||Gelnhausen, Germany|
As per our current Database, Oskar Fischinger died on Jan 31, 1967 (age 66).
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He apprenticed at an organ manufacturing facility and worked as a draftsman for an architect.
In Frankfurt, Fischinger met the theatre critic Bernhard Diebold, who in 1921 introduced Fischinger to the work and personage of Walter Ruttmann, a pioneer in abstract film. At this time, Fischinger was experimenting with colored liquids and three-dimensional modelling materials such as wax and clay. He invented a "Wax Slicing Machine", which synchronized a vertical slicer with a movie camera's shutter, enabling the efficient imaging of progressive cross-sections through a length of molded wax and clay. Fischinger wrote to Ruttmann about his machine, who expressed interest. Moving to Munich, Fischinger licensed the wax slicing machine to Ruttmann, who used it to make some backgrounds for Lotte Reiniger's Prince Achmed film. During this time Fischinger shot many abstract tests of his own using the machine. Some of these are distributed today under the assigned title Wax Experiments.
In 1924, Fischinger formed a company with American entrepreneur Louis Seel to produce satirical cartoons that tended toward mature audiences. One survives in his film estate, Pierrette I. He also continued to make abstract films and tests of his own, trying new and different techniques, including multiple projector performances. "In 1926 and 1927, Fischinger performed his own multiple projector film shows with various musical accompaniments. These shows were titled Fieber (Fever), Vakuum, and Macht (Power)'".
Facing financial difficulties, Fischinger borrowed from his family, and then his landlady. Finally, in an effort to escape bill collectors, Fischinger decided to surreptitiously depart Munich for Berlin in June 1927. Taking only his essential equipment, he walked 350 miles through the countryside, shooting single frames that were released many decades later as the film Walking from Munich to Berlin.
Arriving in Berlin, Fischinger borrowed some money from a relative and set up a studio on Friedrichstraße. He soon was creating special effects for various films. His own proposals for cartoons were not accepted by producers or distributors, however. In 1928, he was hired to work on the feature film Woman in the Moon (German: Frau im Mond), directed by Fritz Lang, which provided him a steady salary for a time. On his own time, he experimented with charcoal-on-paper animation. He produced a series of abstract Studies that were synchronized to popular and classical music. A few of the early Studies were synchronized to new record releases by Electrola, and screened at first-run theatres with a tail credit advertising the record, thus making them, in a sense, the very first music videos.
The Studies — Numbers 1 through 12 — were well received and many were distributed to first-run theatres worldwide, as far as Japan and South America. His Studie Nr. 5 screened at the 1931 "Congress for Colour-Music Research" to critical acclaim. In 1932, Universal Pictures purchased distribution rights to one of the Studies for the American public. The special effects Fischinger did for clients' films and commercials led to his being called "the Wizard of Friedrichstraße". In 1932, Fischinger married Elfriede Fischinger, a first cousin from his hometown of Gelnhausen.
Upon arriving in Hollywood in February 1936, Fischinger was given an office at Paramount Studios, German-speaking secretaries, an English tutor, and a weekly salary of $250.($4400 in 2017 dollars, adjusted for inflation). He and Elfriede socialized with the émigré community. As he waited for his assignment to begin, Fischinger sketched and painted. He prepared a film which was originally named Radio Dynamics, but known today as Allegretto, tightly synchronized to Ralph Rainger's tune "Radio Dynamics". This short film was planned for inclusion in the feature film The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936). However, Paramount only planned to release in black-and-white film, which was not communicated to Fischinger when he began his work. Paramount would not allow even a test in color of Fischinger's film. Fischinger requested to be let out of his contract and left Paramount. Several years later, with the help of Hilla von Rebay and a grant from the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (later The Guggenheim), he was able to buy the film back from Paramount. Fischinger then redid and re-painted the cels and made a color version to his satisfaction which he then called Allegretto. According to biographer William Moritz, this became one of the most-screened and successful films of visual music's history, and one of Fischinger's most popular films.
As the Nazis consolidated power after 1933, the abstract film and art communities and distribution possibilities quickly disappeared as the Nazis instituted their policies against what they termed "degenerate art". His brother Hans Fischinger showed his absolute film "Tanz der Farben" (i.e. The Dance of Colors) in Hamburg in 1939. Oskar Fischinger continued to make films, and commercials and advertisements, among them Muratti greift ein (translated as Muratti Gets in the Act, or Muratti Marches On) (1934), for a cigarette company, and Kreise (Circles) (1933-34), for the Tolirag advertising agency. The color Muratti commercial with its stop-motion dancing cigarettes screened all over the world. Fischinger managed to complete his abstract work Komposition in Blau in 1935. It was well-received critically, and contrary to popular myth, was legally registered. An agent from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer screened prints of Komposition in Blau and Muratti in a small art theatre in Hollywood, and Ernst Lubitsch was impressed by the films and the audience's enthusiastic response to the shorts. An agent from Paramount Pictures telephoned Fischinger, asking if he was willing to work in the United States, and Fischinger promptly agreed.
Frustrated in his filmmaking, Fischinger turned increasingly to oil painting as a creative outlet. According to Moritz, though the Guggenheim Foundation specifically requested a cel animation film, Fischinger made his Bach film Motion Painting No. 1 (1947) as a documentation of the act of painting, taking a single frame each time he made a brush stroke—and the multi-layered style merely parallels the structure of the Bach music without any tight synchronization. Although he never again received funding for any of his personal films (only some commercial work), the Motion Painting No. 1 won the Grand Prix at the Brussels International Experimental Film Competition in 1949. Three of Fischinger's films also made the 1984 Olympiad of Animation's list of the world's greatest films.
The device itself was silent, but was performed accompanying various music. Fischinger gave several performances in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco in the early 1950s, performing various classical and popular music pieces, and many were impressed by the machine's spectacular images. In 1964 the Lumigraph was used in the science fiction film The Time Travelers, in which it became a 'lumichord', although this was not Fischinger's intent, but the decision of the film's producers. Fischinger's son Conrad even built two more machines in different sizes. After his death, his widow Elfriede and daughter Barbara gave performances with the Lumigraph, along with William Moritz, in Europe and the US. An extensive history of the Lumigraph, including a discography of music used in its performances, can be found in Cindy Keefer's interview with Barbara Fischinger, in Keefer's 2013 Fischinger monograph.
Fischinger died in Los Angeles in 1967. According to Center for Visual Music (the archive of his papers and films), a great deal of inaccurate information continues to be published about Fischinger, largely taken from decades-old sources, often repeated online.
Today one of the instruments is in the collection of the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, and the other two are in California. In February 2007 Barbara Fischinger performed on the original Lumigraph in Frankfurt, and in 2012 in Amsterdam. Film and video documentation of Elfriede's Lumigraph performances are at the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles, as well as documentation of Barbara's 2012 rehearsal, showing how the Lumigraph is operated.
Currently, Oskar Fischinger is 122 years, 11 months and 19 days old. Oskar Fischinger will celebrate 123rd birthday on a Thursday 22nd of June 2023.
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