Walther Ruttmann

from "Space Light Art" - Early Abstract Cinema and Multimedia, 1900-1959 by Cindy Keefer:
German abstract painter Walther Ruttmann wrote in 1919 about 'painting with time,' which he believed would be accomplished through film. "And so a type of artist will emerge who is quite new and previously only latently in existence, placed somewhere between painting and music … In any case, the new art can count on a considerably larger audience than painting currently enjoys …"1

The first documented public event combining abstract film with other media was in 1921 in Frankfurt, when Ruttman premiered his film Lichtspiel Opus I with a live string quartet. Max Butting composed the score for the film, and Ruttmann played cello. Ruttman hand-tinted the black and white film, painting thousands of frames over several years. The film was described as moving paintings in time; reviews spoke of a new art form. This event was enormously influential not only on the development of abstract or 'absolute' film, but specifically on the work of a young filmmaker in the audience named Oskar Fischinger.

Subsequent abstract films by Ruttman, Richter, Eggeling and Fischinger were screened accompanied by live music, and in Ruttmann's case the scores were specially composed for the films. This German movement of absolute films was described as:

"Malerei mit Zeit" [painting in time] (Ruttmann); "Bewegungskunst" [art in movement] (Eggeling); "Augenmusik" [visual music], "Lichttonsinfonie" [symphony of light and sound], "zeitraumliche Eurhythmie" [eurythmics in space and time] (Diebold), and "Kinomalerei" [cinematic painting] (Yvan Goll)… 2

1Ruttmann, Walther. "Malerei mit Zeit, " Walter Ruttmann. Eine Dokumentation, Jeanpaul Goergen (ed.), (Berlin: Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, 1989).

2Brinckmann, Christine Noll. "Collective Movements and Solitary Thrusts: German Experimental Film 1920-1930," Millenium Film Journal No. 30/31, (Fall 1997).

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