Request catalogue

Optical Poetry

Optical Poetry

<< back
  View all Animation books

Optical Poetry

The Life and Work of Oskar Fishinger

By William Moritz

Publication date: 2004
Total pages: 296
ISBN: 0 86196 634 1
Price: £ 17.50


The late Dr. William Moritz’s long-awaited, definitive biography of Oskar Fischinger is the result of over 30 years of research on this visionary abstract filmmaker and painter. In addition to Moritz’s comprehensive biography, it includes numerous photographs in colour and black and white (many never before published), statements by Fischinger about his films, a newly created extensive filmography, and a selected bibliography.

Oskar Fischinger is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, embracing the abstraction that became the major art movement of that century, and exploring the new technology of the cinema to open abstract painting into a new Visual Music that performs in liquid time. If he is less well known than some of the other major artists, it is precisely because he was buffeted about by the wars, Nazism, the communist witch-hunts and other phenomena of his century. Here is a glimpse of his life and works
– William Moritz


At last! A full biography of Oskar Fischinger, arguably the greatest and the most influential artist of abstract or ‘absolute’ cinema. This informative book, written with insight and candor by film historian Dr. William Moritz, is an important contribution to our knowledge of alternative filmmaking seen through the life and art of a unique visionary"

John Canemaker, Professor/Director Animation Studies, New YorkUniversityTischSchoolof the Arts


Preface; Remerciements
Introduction: Gelnhausen, Frankfurt and Munich
Chapter 1 Berlin
Chapter 2 The Nazi Terror
Chapter 3 Hollywood
Chapter 4 Disney and Guggenheim
Chapter 5 Painting
Chapter 6 Oskar and Bach
Testimonials for Oskar Fischinger; Statements by Oskar Fischinger; True creation
Selected list of public and private collections of Fischinger artworks
Oskar Fischinger Filmography
Sources for Fischinger Films
Oskar Fischinger Bibliography
Index of Illustrations


A biography and tribute to William Moritz (died 12 March 2004)
Dr. William Moritz was a world-renowned expert on animation, experimental film and visual music, and has authored more than 100 articles, chapters and program notes. His book Optical Poetry is the culmination of his 34 years of research and work with the Fischinger Archive. Optical Poetry reveals fully his passion for the Fischinger legacy, and fully details his decades of work on the films. Born in 1941 in Arizona, Moritz was raised in Arizona and Southern California. He received his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1968 (Comparative Literature, minor in Cinema). He began teaching at Occidental College in 1965, and continued teaching film and humanities at institutions including Otis Art Institute, Pitzer College, American University Center (Calcutta, India), UCLA, Art Center College of Design, and CalArts. He worked at the Creative Film Society distributing animation, and at radio station KPFK as a film and music critic. He promoted experimental film and animation through venues like Los Angeles Filmmaker's Cooperative, Theatre Vanguard and Los Angeles Film Oasis; and was a member of the Visual Music Alliance in the 1980s. His own 34 films, both experimental and animation, were screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Tokyo, and venues including Pacific Film Archive, Anthology Film Archive, San Francisco Art Institute and Academy of Fine Arts (the Hague). He toured giving poetry readings, had many of his poems published, and two of his plays were produced including The Midas Well Show. He published widely on animation and experimental film, including articles on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Visual Music, Jordan Belson, the Fleischer Brothers, Bruce Connor, Hy Hirsh and numerous other filmmakers.
William Moritz was a past president of the Society for Animation Studies, and lectured at film festivals, museums, universities and conferences worldwide. He curated numerous film exhibitions and was a guest curator for several art exhibitions, including "The Spiritual in Art" and "Degenerate Art" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He appeared in television documentaries including the French Paths of Light, the British Abstract Cinema, and the American CBS Camera Three series. In 1993, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement trophy for service to Visual Music by the Royal Academy of the Netherlands. In 1995, he received an American Film Institute Independent Filmmakers Grant for his animated film, All My Lost Lovers. He was a member of the faculty at California Institute of the Arts, department of Film/Video. Tribute to Bill Mortiz courtesy of Cindy Keefer, Director, Center for Visual Music

Back to top