Can you name four movies with scenes that feature abstract art? If you need help, consider these: Fantasia (1940), Beautiful Girls, Vertigo and Transcendence. Three of these films were part of my childhood introduction to abstract form and imagery. The fourth movie, Transcendence, allowed me the unique opportunity to fulfill a dream and see my artwork on film.
Like most of my peers, my first exposure to abstract art began with Disney’s Fantasia (1940). The film brought art and music together and made it come to life in a way I had never experienced before. Fantasia’s version of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor utilizes the abstract artwork and talents of Oskar Fischinger, a pioneer in abstract musical animation.
Later, when I decided to pursue a career in art and started to work with color and textures, I began to paint while listening to music. Today, this method continues to create a sense of nostalgia and comfort for me when I work.
And I can’t talk about my childhood and films without mentioning my mom and her love of black and white movies. Every time a Busby Berkeley movie came on, she insisted that I sit with her and watch it. Berkeley’s choreography with the shapes, spirals, and designs he created with his cast of chorus girls in Beautiful Girls/Dames was one of our favorites.
And who can forget watching late-night horror movies on tv? As a teenager, the highlight of my weekend was staying up all night and watching Alfred Hitchcock films. If you don’t remember the opening title sequence from Vertigo, take a look at it here. Graphic designer Saul Bass and computer animator John Whitney combined their talents to create an opening that leaves little to the imagination on how it feels to experience the sensation of vertigo.
Seeing abstract art on television and in movies captured my attention and inspired me to paint. I connected with the energy of the music, symbols, and colors. In hindsight, it helped shape who I am as an artist and initiated my interest and fascination with painting colors and patterns that create an emotional response.
In 2013, a rare opportunity brought me full circle with my love of abstract art and film. Three of my radiation paintings appeared in the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence. Non-artists may not realize what a unique experience it is to see your artwork on the big screen, but this was a tremendous honor for me. You can see my painting, Radiation with Brown, Magenta and Violet, in the film scene here.
Abstract art in films made an impression on me and has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Fantasia (1940), Beautiful Girls, Vertigo, and Transcendence are four movies that feature memorable scenes with abstract art, and I continue to be inspired by these artists and their work.
More information on Oskar Fischinger can be found on the following sites:
For more information on Busby Berkeley, watch here