15. Opus 1 – Walter Ruttmann

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SUMMARY: Abstract shapes undulate to the sound of Max Butting’s ‘Opus I’.

WHY IT’S HERE: With ‘Opus I’ Walter Ruttmann pioneered the abstract animated short. A painter who became frustrated with what he saw as the inherently static nature of the medium, Ruttmann seized upon animation as a chance to further his art. ‘Opus I’ works beautifully, Ruttmann’s shapes painted with oil on glass plates, which Ruttmann shot a frame of after each brush stroke. This melding of the avant garde with music was a hugely influential piece, perhaps most famously on Disney’s ‘Fantasia’, which not only based its whole two hours around animation set to music but even included its own abstract segment, the opening ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’.

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