Visual Music 


– Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900 by Kerry Brougher and Jeremy Strick (Editors). The influence of music on the development of abstract and mixed-media visual art forms from the early twentieth century to the present day.

Visual Music, 1st generation, 2nd generation

This ground-breaking new book and the exhibition it accompanied trace the history of a revolutionary idea: that fine art should attain the abstract purity of music. Over the past one hundred years some of the most adventurous modern and contemporary artists have explored unorthodox means to invent a kinetic, non-representational art modeled upon pure instrumental music.


Music has inspired some of the most progressive art of our time—from the abstract painting of Wassily Kandinsky and Frantisek Kupka to the mid-century experimental films of Oskar Fischinger and Harry Smith to contemporary installations by Jennifer Steinkamp and Jim Hodges. While early abstract paintings tended to approach music metonymically, the color organs, films, light shows, and installations from the mid-twentieth century to the present day engage a range of perceptual faculties simultaneously to create a plethora of sensations in the viewer.


The most complete examination of this phenomenon to date, Visual Music features ninety major works of art plus related documentation, focusing on abstract and mixed-media art and the connections to musical forms as varied as classical, jazz, and electronic. The book includes three scholarly essays, each discussing a distinct art historical period in depth, and an additional essay by Olivia Mattis that approaches the subject from a musicologist's perspective, as well as a chronology, artist biographies, and a selected bibliography. 250 illustrations, 200 in color.


With contributions by: Kerry Brougher, Hirshhorn; Jeremy Strick, MOCA; Ari Wiseman, MOCA; Judith Zilczer, Hirshhorn.


Source: Amazon



ISBN-10: 0500512175

ISBN-13: 978-0500512173



Visual Music, 1st generation, 2nd generationVisual Music, 1st generation, 2nd generation


Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction (2012) edited by Cindy Keefer and Jaap Guldemond. This new monograph explores the position of Oskar Fischinger's work within the international avant-garde. The book examines his animation and painting, his use of music, his experiences in Hollywood, the Lumigraph, visual music theories, and his influence on today's filmmakers, artists and animators. The book also contains previously unpublished documents including texts by Oskar Fischinger himself, and unshot animation drawings. Essays compiled and commissioned by editor Cindy Keefer include new research and texts by Jean-Michel Bouhours, Jeanpaul Goergen, Ilene Susan Fort, James Tobias, Cindy Keefer, Richard Brown, Paul Hertz, Joerg Jewanski, and more. (Center for Visual Music)

Sons et Lumières (2004) – A History of Sound in the Art of the 20th Century (in French) by Marcella Lista and Sophie Duplaix published by the Centre Pompidou for the excellent Paris exhibition in September 2004 until January 2005.

Curated by the Pompidou’s Sophie Duplaix with the Louvre’s Marcella Lista, the show required a good three or four hours to absorb, with its bombardment of sensory and intellectual input, including painting, sound sculpture, sound/light automata, film and video, and room-size installations. (Frieze Magazine)

American Magus: Harry Smith (1996) demonstrates how differently Harry Smith appeared to friends from each circle, offering personal recollections that present a multidimensional, largely contradictory picture of the man. The films, paintings, and recordings of Harry Smith pay tribute to his genius. Filmmaking, painting, anthropology, musicology, and the occult - his knowledge of each was encyclopedic and firsthand. As might befit a man of such varied interests, his circles of friends were large and, for the most part, wholly independent. (Experimental Cinema)

Len Lye: A biography (2001) by Roger Horrock tells for the first time the story of an extraordinary New Zealander, a brilliant artist with an international career who never lost the informality, the energy, the independence of spirit of his South Pacific origins. Len Lye began as an unsettled working-class kid with limited prospects and became a leading modernist artist in London and New York. Roger Horrocks's exhaustive study of Lye has taken many years and is based on interviews with many of those close to the artist as well as on voluminous documentary sources. (Govett-Brewster Art Gallery)



Pixillation (1970) by Lillian F. Schwartz. Moog sound by Gershon Kingsley. With computer-produced images and Moog-synthesized sound Pixillation is in a sense an introduction to the electronics lab. But its forms are always handsome, its colors bright and appealing, its rhythms complex and inventive. (Roger Greenspun)

Free Fall (1964) is an experimental film from Arthur Lipsett. Free Fall is an assortment of film trimmings assembled to make a wry comment on humankind in today’s world. It evokes a surrealist dream of our fall from grace into banality. (National Film Board of Canada)

James Whitney (1921-1982) younger brother of John Whitney, Sr., was a filmmaker regarded as one of the great masters of abstract cinema. Several of his films are classics in the genre of Visual Music. James Whitney was born December 27, 1921, in Pasadena, California, and lived all his life in the Los Angeles area. He studied painting, and traveled in England before the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, he returned to Pasadena. He completed a number of short films over four decades, two of which required at least five years of work. (Wikipedia)

Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (1994) by French critic and composer Michel Chion reassesses audiovisual media since the revolutionary 1927 debut of recorded sound in cinema, shedding crucial light on the mutual relationship between sound and image in audiovisual perception. (Colombia University Press)

Storm de Hirsch was a very important player in the New York Avant-Garde film scene of the 1960s, though her biography and work are generally left out of the history. Despite lack of recognition, she was very present in the underground film movement and socialized with every big name on the scene, filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke and others. (Wikipedia)