Fischinger Archive


Circles in Circle, 1949, oil on masonite


A STATEMENT ABOUT PAINTING (1951) by Oskar Fischinger

The stereo paintings in this exhibition are a more recent development than my other paintings, perhaps still too new to be fully understood and appreciated. But they will be very exciting for everyone who has the patience to look at them and sutdy them, and really see them in their stereo quality and space reality as they are meant to be seen.

To see the space paintings, the following suggestions may help you: Stand (or sit) at a comfortable distance, squarely in front of the painting. Eyes horizontal, parallel with the paintings. Look and focus and put all your attention at a nearby point (reading distance) in line with the paintings. To make it easier at the beginning, hold your finger or a pencil at reading distance. This will help you to focus at that point in space.

Adjust the distance of that point slightly by moving backwards or forwards until you have the impression that the two panels of the stereo painting on the wall have moved apart from each other. Then between them a new, a third painting of equal size appears, slightly more brilliant than the images at its right and left. However, please do not take your attention away from the nearby point upon which you have focused all your attention. This means-- in spite of the temptation to look at the real surfaces of the paintings on the wall (we are naturally conditioned to look at things where they are)-- keep all your attention at the focal point.

Now observe with your mind the illusive painting in the middle. This is the space illusion. It seems to be on the wall between the real paintings, but actually it appears nearby and around the focal point upon which your eyes have been fixed. Don't look away. Observe, and if your eyes are normal (i.e., not of unequal vision-- the two independent images must fall-- and click-- together) then you should actually see and be able to wander around in that space painting and feel the exact location and position of each form and the distance behind them in all sharpness, precision, exactness and perfection.

If you should not succeed at first, don't feel discouraged. Perhaps at another time you will succeed. You are only postponing the moment of your discovery and joy. You still have it ahead of you.

New conclusions, ideas, consequences spring out of space paintings. Compositions must not only be two-dimensional or three-dimensional (as in perspective compositions) but must also be dimensionally composed into actual space. Thus space painting opens up a tremendous new field for future artists.

The space stereo paintings are an outgrowth of MOTION PAINTING NO. 1, my film which was awarded the Grand Prix at the International Film Festival in Brussels, 1949. This film is a continuous oil painting, not of course a usual painting, but one done with the ideas of cinematic form, color, rhythm and movement. The progress of the ideas and inventions in the painting was faithfully recorded by a stop-motion camera throughout more than a year, though the film rolls off before your eyes in ten minutes. The effectiveness of its execution is the result of continuous work in this field since 1919.

As to the conclusion I might draw from this film, it is only that MOTION PAINTING No. 1, as it unfolds itself, offers the viewer the same deep emotional feeling that he can receive from good music. Thus we find that music is not limited to the world of sound; there also exists a music of the visual world.


Written for an exhibition at Frank Perls Gallery, Los Angeles



images and text (c) Elfriede Fischinger Trust, 2007, all rights reserved