petak, 16. studenoga 2012.

Hans Richter - dadaistički filmovi & Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947)

Hans Richter (1888-1976) dadaistički slikar i filmaš napravio je temeljne avangardne filmove. Dreams That Money Can Buy prvi je pak američki avangardni igrani film (surađivala je i tadašnja umjetnička elita: Max Ernst, Paul Bowles, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, John Cage, Fernand Leger i Man Ray). Siromašni Joe pokreće biznis - prodaje svoje snove nesretnim ljudima.

Dadascope (1961)

Dadascope is a comprehensive portrait of the Dada movement with its specific techniques of sound and visual clash, word puns, chess, dice and other games of chance. Richter stated, “There is no story, no psychological implication except such as the onlooker puts into the imagery. But it is not accidental either, more a poetry of images built with and upon associations. In other words the film allows itself the freedom to play upon the scale of film possibilities, freedom for which Dada always stood – and still stands.”

8 x 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (1957)

Eight by Eight “A Chess Sonata in 8 Movement”, with music by John Latoche and Oscar Brand, is the second of Richter’s elaborate cinematic collaborations. Richter pays homage to Lewis Carroll’s use of chess in Through the Looking Glass. Using humor and chance, Richter creates a heavily symbolic, surreal world where kings, queens, and other players on the chess board act out some of life’s episodes. Included are sculptor Alexander Calder constructing mobiles and setting them to motion, painter Max Ernst pursuing his wife, Dorothea, through the canyons of lower Manhattan and a rocky western landscape in an overplayed domestic struggle, and writer Jean Cocteau playing a pawn who whimsically becomes a queen. Eight by Eight is an imaginative journey through the symbols and satire of Surrealism. - //

Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947), cijeli film:


Berlin-born Hans Richter - Dadaist, painter, film theorist and filmmaker - was for four decades one of the most influential members of the cinematic avant-garde. Richter assembled some of the century's liveliest artists as co-creators of Dreams That Money Can Buy, his most ambitious attempt to bring the work of the European avant-garde to a wider cinema audience. Among its admirers is film director David Lynch.
Joe, a young man down on his luck, discovers he has the power to create dreams, and sets up a business selling them to others. The 'dreams' he gives to his clients are the creations of Max Ernst, Fernand Lger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder and Richter himself, and the result is by turns playful, hypnotic, satirical, charming and nightmarish. Dreams That Money Can Buy is a film in seven segments namely:

* Desire Director, Writer - Max Ernst
* The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart Director, Writer - Fernand Lger
* Ruth, Roses and Revolvers Director, Writer - Man Ray
* Discs Director, Writer - Marcel Duchamp
* Ballet Director, Writer - Alexander Calder
* Circus Director, Writer - Alexander Calder
* Narcissus Director, Writer - Hans Richter -

Dreams Money Can Buy is a 1947 film made by artist/author Hans Richter and collaborators like Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Ferdinand Leger, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Paul Bowles, Max Ernst and others. There is a number by scandalous bisexual torch singer Libby Holman and popular African-American singer Josh White (who was later caught up in the “Red Scare” and black-listed) on the original soundtrack titled “The Girl with the Pre-Fabricated Heart” that plays during Leger’s segment. Richter’s goal was to bring the avant-garde out of the museum and into the movie house and the results, predictably, are rather unique. Certainly Dreams Money Can Buy must have been a stunner at the time and it still is. The plot, such that there is one, revolves around a man who rents a room where he can peer into the mirror and see people’s dreams. He sets up shop and we meet his clients and see their surreal interior lives in the dream sequences. As you can imagine with the above list of collaborators, the film is a dizzying treat of audio-visual creation.

Marcel Duchamp’s contribution, “Discs,” is especially interesting. Here we see Duchamp’s famous Rotoreliefs in action, with a “prepared piano” soundtrack performed by John Cage. [I was once offered a box of glass and wood reproductions in miniature of Duchamp’s kinetic sculptures—at a good price, too—and like a fucking idiot I passed on it]. -

Shot in colour on 16mm with the sound post-synchronized, Hans Richter’s extraordinary portmanteau film, Dreams That Money Can Buy is a real curate’s egg. Completed in 1947 for a budget of $25000 ($15000 of which had come from Peggy Guggenheim), the feature length film took three years to complete.
Conceived as a showcase for the work of Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Man Ray and Richard Huelsenbeck, the film was described by Richter as “7 dreams shaped by 7 contemporary artists”. The soundtrack features original compositions by John Cage, Paul Bowles and Darius Milhaud tied together by weirdly brilliant syrupy jazz interludes by Louis Applebaum, who later complained that his involvement with the project as musical director had almost bankrupted him.
Although technically relatively sophisticated, today the tone of the film comes across as a queasy mixture of Cocteau and Monty Python, its satirical rhyming narration seems heavy handed and condescending at times. Despite this, there are moments of hallucinatory beauty and startling invention. It comes as no surprise that David Lynch should cite Dreams That Money Can Buy amongst his favorite movies .
Richter’s involvement with film dated back to 1921, when along with the Swedish painter Viking Eggeling, he had begun to experiment with the medium, producing Rythmus ‘21, one of the very first completely abstract films. By 1939 he had already completed twenty films ranging from abstraction to documentary to dada japeryi.
Already an internationally established artist, Richter was a fixture of the New York émigré community of the 1940’s and held the directorship of the Institute of Film Techniques. Before the 1st World War he had been involved with Die Brucke and the German expressionists but had then gravitated to Zurich where he fell in with Hugo Ball, Jan Arp and Tristan Tzara and together with Sophie Täuber, Marcel Janco and Richard Huelsenbeck, they founded the Cabaret Voltaire.
Transcontinental connections followed a tireless campaign of periodicals, manifestos and letter writing, with Dada’s influence being felt as far and wide as Amsterdam, Berlin. Paris, Tokyo and New York. Duchamp, who had emigrated with Francis Picabia in 1915, had encountered the American artist Man Ray and together they became the ringleaders of radical anti art activities in the States. When Richter applied for American citizenship in 1940 to escape Nazi persecution, his status and connections guaranteed him a warm reception in the bohemian, avant-garde milieu of New York.
In the 1940’s there was a growing tension between the film worlds of New York and Hollywood. In New York the avant-garde was in the ascendant and largely contemptuous of the “empty tinsel of Hollywood.”
This ambivalence is keenly felt in Dreams That Money Can Buy. Having secured a lease, Joe, the films protagonist, must find a way of paying the rent. He does this by discovering that “the eye is a camera” and exploiting his ability creates dreams for a procession of bourgeois clients. Romantic clichés are mocked by a parodic noir-ish narrator, “sterile flowers” are offered as tokens of love to mannequins, dreams unfold within dreams and in Man Ray’s sequence, “Ruth, Roses and Revolvers”, a cinema audience is asked to imitate the actions of the characters on screen.
The Marxist critique of the Frankfurt School had had an impact on the thinking of many of the artists working in the medium at the time but the surrealists, for all their posturing and rhetoric, were unable to conceal their love of Hollywood. In 1946 Avida Dollars, as Andre Bresson referred to Salvador Dali, was working with Disney on Destino, which whilst abandoned due to cost considerations at the time was to be finally realized from the original artwork to great acclaim in 2003.
In 1945 Dali had also produced the dream sequence for Hitchcock’s Spellbound but the influence of the European avant-garde on Hollywood (and vice versa) was by no means confined to the great Spanish self-publicist. Hollywood had become a magnet for German directors escaping the Nazis and the choreography of Busby Berkley, the anarchy of the Marx Brothers as well as the psychological intensity of film noir all had antecedents in the European avant-garde.
In New York Richter established a production company, Art of this Century Films Inc, with Peggy Guggenheim and Kenneth Macpherson (one of the founders of the influential Pool Group film collective). Macpherson’s only previous feature length project, Borderline (1928), had starred Paul Robeson and dealt with the subject of interracial romance.
The montage technique which Macpherson had borrowed from Eisenstein infuriated critics, with the London Evening Standard advising him "to spend a year in a commercial studio" before attempting something as difficult again. It was an ill omen that Richter ignored and, if a photo spread from LIFE in 1946 is to be believed, he had great commercial hopes for the project.
Although the film won an award at the Venice Film Festival in 1947 for “best original contribution to cinematography” it left American critics nonplussed. Subsequent issues with its distributor meant that the film was not deemed commercially viable for presentation in conventional theatres. That it received any public screenings was in large part to a network of film societies and the tireless efforts of Amos Vogel, who had founded the avant-garde ciné-club, Cinema 16 in New York the same year as Dreams That Money Can Buy was completed.
Vogel’s club would go on to be the first to screen films by Roman Polanski, John Cassavetes, Nagisa Oshima, Jacques Rivette and Alain Resnais as well as staging early and important screenings by American avant-gardists of the time such as Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger and Bruce Conner.
Ten years after Dreams That Money Can Buy’s premiere, Richter, at the age of 70, completed another feature length film, 8 X 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements, which reunited many of his original collaborators. - wikipedia 
 Zoom out

 Na UbuWebu:

Rhytmus 21 (1921)

Rhythm 23 (1923)

Filmstudie (1926)

Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk) (1927)

Inflation (1928)

Race Symphony (1928)

Everything Turns Everything Resolves (1929)

Two Pence Magic (1930)

8 x 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Richter (1957) 

Richter, Hans. “ The Badly Trained Sensibility” [1924]. The Avant-Garde Film:  A Reader of Theory and Criticism.  Ed. P. Adams Sitney.  New York:  New York U P, 1978.  22-23. Richter, Hans.  “ Easel—Scroll—Film,”  Magazine of Art (February 1952):  78-86.
Richter, Hans.  “
The Film as an Original Art Form.”  Film Culture Reader. Ed. P. Adams Sitney.  New York: Cooper Sq., 1970.  15-20.
Richter, Hans. 
The Struggle for the Film [1934-39]. Hants:  Wildwood House, 1986. [ Excerpts]
van Doesburg, Theo.  “
Film as Pure Form” [1929]  Form 1 (1966).

     snapshot200604011017259 Hans Richter   Filmstudie (1926)

Weird Rhythms: The Avant-Garde Films of Hans Richter

Hans Richter was a Berlin-born artist and filmmaker known as one of the early pioneers of Dada, the subversive cultural and artistic movement that prevailed in the years during and immediately after the First World War. After that, he would go on to lay the groundwork for much of Surrealism and the Avant-Garde.
Richter started out his career as an artist, beginning work in 1905 at the age of 17, his early paintings and graphic work being heavily influenced by Cubism. But after serving in the war from 1914 to 1916, Richter left Germany and found himself drawn to Zurich where he was converted to the ideals of Dadaism, a movement which advocated the notion that an artist’s responsibility was to be actively political, oppose war and support revolution. In art, these near-anarchistic ideals were conveyed through the rejection of conventional ideas about form and aesthetics. Hence the production of abstract art became a common attribute of many of the Dadaists.
All this provides a good basis for understanding the series of short avant-garde films that Richter produced through the 1920s. Richter had first produced abstract art in 1917, but in 1918 he started toying with filmmaking and found it to be a much more effective medium in which to convey his abstract sensibilities. Though he never had any formal training in filmmaking, he would go on to become one of the main players in the cinematic avant-garde producing some famously surreal works that more often than not also offered a subversive political commentary on 1920s Germany.
Richter’s antiestablishment ideas are much in evidence in his film Inflation from 1928, which depicts the hyperinflation that crippled Germany during the two World Wars. In a series of quickening edits, we see the exchange of money equate to a rapidly increasing number of zeros. This is interspersed with the occasional shot of a cigar-smoking tycoon. Capitalism, it would seem, is very much to blame for the worsening economic crisis, according to Richter. With a musical score that hurtles along increasing in tempo and pitch, there is a definite sense of the loss of control and farcical nature of the inflation. As a political film, Richter’s derisive opinions on Capitalism are much in evidence.
In Everything Turns, Everything Resolves, Richter produced one of the first German films to use sound technology. Set in a country fair, there is a strongly surreal tone to the film with slow motion jugglers and strong men appearing to walk up the side of the camera frame. As the pace of the film escalates with the soundtrack becoming ever more frenetic towards the end, there is again a sense of loss of control. The enraptured country fair audience appears to revel in this, pointing to a critique on Weimar society, as Richter saw it.
Rhythm 21 , though not the first abstract film to be made, as Richter often claimed, nevertheless is still one of the most significant. Through playing with a series of shapes; squares, rectangles and lines, and seeing how they interplay, Richter was boiling down the medium of film to its constituent parts i.e. basic shapes. In so doing, movement, time and light are the only elements left. Having these shapes move around within the confines of the camera frame was, for Richter, the discovery of cinematic rhythm. He later said about it:
Rhythm expresses something different from thought. The meaning of both is incommensurable. Rhythm cannot be explained completely by thought nor can thought be put in terms of rhythm, or converted or reproduced. They both find their connection and identity in common and universal human life, the life principal, from which they spring and upon which they can build further.”
This fascination with rhythm would go on to become the grounding for much of his filmmaking career. In Race Symphony, Richter moves away from the abstract and into the documentary field, depicting those on their journey to a day at the races. Though the subject matter may be less experimental that some of his other films, Race Symphony is no less dependent on rhythm with a series of shots depicting trains, buses and cars in motion, culminating in one long shot following the rhythm of the horses as they charge around the racetrack. Shown as a prelude to a feature film, this was Richter’s attempt to bring his notions about cinematic rhythm to the masses.
Filmstudie (1926) indicates Richter’s move into surrealism territory. Using the photograph of a human face together with floating eyeballs and abstract shapes akin to his Rhythm films, Richter is merging not only the mediums of photography, art and film but also the real and the abstract. For Richter, natural and abstract forms were interchangeable; hence images of eyeballs were placed on top of faces and interspersed with bold abstract shapes.
Rhythm 23 continues from where Rhythm 21 left off but this time only features square shapes and diagonal lines and the revealing interplay between them. Again, as the objects collide into each other and hypnotically alter size and shade, the sheer minimalism of the film means that it is the rhythm of the objects that takes centrestage.
Ghosts Before Breakfast from 1927 is one of Hans Richter’s most famous films and an amalgamation of the abstract, surreal and rhythmic qualities that had made up much of his previous cinematic work. In the film, objects such has hats, clocks, beards and teacups take on a life of their own, dancing across the screen whilst people are left helpless to control them. Rhythm is again alluded to when a clock is shown to periodically move forward by 10 minutes every second. Through having these inanimate objects suddenly gain an agency of their own, Richter was most likely making a political point and hinting at the instability of 1920s Germany. Politics aside though, Ghosts Before Breakfast is a mesmerising film with Richter’s hypnotic choreography and the sense of unease that this generates, still affecting to watch today. For audiences of the time who’d never experienced special effects and surrealism paired together on the screen, the film must have been truly startling; helping to cement it’s status as an avant-garde masterpiece.
After the success of his avant-garde films in the 1920s, Richter was forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1933 and after travelling through Europe for several years eventually settled in New York, living out the rest of his life in the United States. Though he continued with his film career and went on to make several feature films, it is still his groundbreaking early experimental films for which he is best known, and which proved highly inspirational for the next generation of Avant-Garde artists.

Dada Companion, ‘Hans Richter Biography’
Stein, Jannon, ‘Abstract Films from the 1920s: Making Rhythm Visible’, 06/13/11
Suchenski, Richard, ‘Hans Richter’, Senses of Cinema, Issue 49.

Hans Richter

Although its centre was Paris, the cinematic avant-garde that emerged after World War I originated in Germany. Composed almost exclusively of modern painters and photographers, the international experimental film movement mounted a sustained effort to extend the formal strategies of the various strands of post-war modernism to the cinema. (1) In deliberate opposition to the naturalizing, indexical tendencies of the popular cinema, the highly reflexive films of the first avant-garde emphasized the medium-specific properties of cinema by drawing attention to its capacity for spatio-temporal transformation. The focus was on the nature, properties and functions of the camera, film strip and screen, rather than on human actors or narrative flow. It is, therefore, highly appropriate that the films that inaugurated the movement were all works of abstract animation, an area in which German artists made a decisive contribution. Foremost among these early pioneers was Hans Richter, who, as a participant in most of the major art movements of the inter-war period and as a director, educator, theorist and cine-activist for more than four decades, played a pivotal role in the development of the avant-garde film.
After a brief career as a Cubist and six months of military service, Richter became, with Tristan Tzara and Hans Arp, one of the founding members of Zurich Dada. As the acknowledged author of many of the Dada manifestos, Richter was certainly sympathetic to its ideas, but his paintings in this period are less concerned with anarchic revolt than they are with the dissolution of natural objects into pure forms. Following the failed Spartacist uprising, Richter returned to Munich in 1919 to lead the short-lived Action Committee of Revolutionary Artists. (2) Richter quickly turned away from politically charged figurative art, however, and devoted his energies to the development of a new system of rhythmic abstraction. Some scholars have interpreted Richter’s growing interest in non-representational forms as a response to the failure of leftist groups such as the Action Committee to affect political change. (3) Richter, however, reads things differently:
Influenced by cubism and its search for structure, but not satisfied with what it offered, I found myself between 1913-1918 increasingly faced with the conflict of suppressing spontaneous expression in order to gain an objective understanding of a fundamental principle with which I could control the ‘heap of fragments’ inherited from the cubists. Thus I gradually lost interest in the subject – in any subject – and focused instead on the positive-negative (white-black) opposition, which at least gave me a working hypothesis whereby I could organize the relationship of one part of a painting to the other. (4)
Richter’s preoccupation with the relationship between structural elements reflects his desire to move past the individualistic emotionalism of Expressionism by finding some way to harness, and exert dialectical control over, the flow of abstract form-combinations in his work. Ironically, one of the founders of Dada quickly became concerned that “if we allow […] an uninhibited fulfilment of all personal impulses without, at least, trying to establish harmony we are led to anarchy and suicide in life as well as in art”, and began searching for universal principles that could be used “so that we might attain a sovereignty over this new matter and justify this new freedom” (5).
Late in 1919, Richter met the Swedish artist Viking Eggeling, who was similarly concerned with systematizing abstraction. The two artists began living and working together, finding in the counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach’s fugues a principle that could be used to control both the form and the rhythm of their paintings. For Richter and Eggeling, contrapuntal polarity “was more than a technical device, it was a philosophic way of dealing with the experience of growth” and it led them to the idea of a universal language. (6) Although no copies survive, in 1920 they jointly published an article on this subject, entitled “Universelle Sprache” (“Universal Language”), in Theo van Doesberg’s magazine, De Stijl, in 1920. The essay demonstrated how an unlimited multiplicity of relationships could be arranged by equilibrating form-elements with their opposites through similarities that they called “contrast-analogies” (7). In a series of scroll paintings they made between 1919 and 1921, Richter and Eggeling took their ideas further by introducing the idea of continuity to the methodical arrangement of their contrast-analogies. Since the scrolls progress sequentially, the dynamic energies of the form-element relationships are able to accumulate, allowing the viewer to experience the work not as a static fact, but rather as an active process unfolding in time. Richter and Eggeling both saw utopian possibilities in the mnemonic demands their scroll paintings placed on the eye, and this inspired them to try to apply their principles to the time-based medium of film. (8)
Although neither Richter nor Eggeling had any experience with film technology, they were able to begin experimenting in the trick film studios of UFA in Berlin through the patronage of a wealthy neighbour. (9) After several failed attempts to directly transfer their scrolls to strips of film, Richter and Eggeling tried to animate hand-drawn images by holding them down with thumbtacks and manually moving them on an editing table. Richter successfully adapted his 1919 Präludium scroll into a brief sequence, but became frustrated at the cumbersome production process and the somewhat awkward results. (10) Increasingly convinced that their techniques were inadequate to the task, Richter abandoned this method in late 1920, which precipitated a falling out with Eggeling, who insisted that picture scrolls should be treated as “scores” for films. After what Richter has called a “Herculean effort”, Eggeling was eventually able to complete the final version of his Symphonie Diagonale shortly before his death in 1925. (11)
Richter, on the other hand, decided to adopt an entirely new strategy: rather than attempting to visually orchestrate formal patterns, he focused instead on the temporality of the cinematic viewing experience by emphasizing movement and the shifting relationship of form elements in time. His major creative breakthrough, in other words, was the discovery of cinematic rhythm, which he then used as the title of his first film, Film ist Rhythmus: Rhythmus ’21 (Film is Rhythm: Rhythm 21, 1921). For Richter, rhythm, “as the essence of emotional expression”, was connected to a Bergsonian life force:
Rhythm expresses something different from thought. The meaning of both is incommensurable. Rhythm cannot be explained completely by thought nor can thought be put in terms of rhythm, or converted or reproduced. They both find their connection and identity in common and universal human life, the life principle, from which they spring and upon which they can build further. (12)
The determining impulse for all of Richter’s early film work, visual rhythm, as articulated time, was used to organize the constituent spatial elements of a film into a unified whole.
Rhythmus 21
In Rhythmus ’21, generally considered to be the first completely abstract film, Richter used these principles to create a work of remarkable structural cohesion. Completed by using stop motion and forward and backward printing in addition to an animation table, the film consists of a continuous flow of rectangular and square shapes that “move” forward, backward, vertically, and horizontally across the screen. (13) Syncopated by an uneven rhythm, forms grow, break apart and are fused together in a variety of configurations for just over three minutes (at silent speed). The constantly shifting forms render the spatial situation of the film ambivalent, an idea that is reinforced when Richter reverses the figure-background relationship by switching, on two occasions, from positive to negative film. In so doing, Richter draws attention to the flat rectangular surface of the screen, destroying the perspectival spatial illusion assumed to be integral to film’s photographic base, and emphasizing instead the kinetic play of contrasts of position, proportion and light distribution. By restricting himself to the use of square shapes and thus simplifying his compositions, Richter was able to concentrate on the arrangement of the essential elements of cinema: movement, time and light. Disavowing the beauty of “form” for its own sake, Rhythmus ’21 instead expresses emotional content through the mutual interaction of forms moving in contrast and relation to one another. Nowhere is this more evident than in the final “crescendo” of the film, in which all of the disparate shapes of the film briefly coalesce into a Mondrian-like spatial grid before decomposing into a field of pure light.
According to Richter, the original version of Rhythmus ’21 was never shown publicly in Berlin. At the behest of Theo van Doesberg, however, it was shown in Paris in 1921, with Richter introduced as a Dane due to anti-German sentiment. (14) In May 1922, Richter travelled with van Doesberg and El Lissitzky to the First International Congress of Progressive Artists, where they formed the International Faction of Constructivism. In a group manifesto, written by Richter, they define the progressive artist
as one who denies and fights the predominance of subjectivity in art and does not create his work on the basis of random chance, but rather on the new principles of artistic creation by systematically organizing the media to a generally understandable expression. (15)
To help disseminate these ideas, Richter founded the journal G in July 1923. The magazine, whose title stands for Gestaltung (forming), lasted until 1926 and included articles by Hans Arp, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Kurt Schwitters, Naum Gabo and Man Ray, in addition to Richter and van Doesberg. G, whose typography adhered to constructivist principles, was, according to Marion von Hockafer, “the first German periodical to be concerned with the changing form and structure of presenting and perceiving aesthetic information” (16). Eager to see art reconnected to the world, Richter presented G as a forum to help artists “achieve both lawfulness of artistic expression and tasks of meaningful activity” (17).
Präludium scroll
Richter published several articles in G diagrammatically explaining his ideas about cinematic rhythm, including one in which he expressed the desire to make a colour film. Since there was no colour film stock available at that time, Richter had planned to paint each frame of his Fuge in Rot und Grün (Fugue in Red and Green) by hand with the assistance of Werner Gräff, a former student of van Doesberg at the Bauhaus. After learning that the coloured lines would be visible on the film strip, however, Richter abandoned his efforts and made the film in black and white, retitling it Rhythmus 23 (1923). Somewhat less radical than its predecessor, Rhythmus 23 is constructed entirely out of the interplay between square shapes and diagonal lines, often related via superimposition, and the underlying architectonic principle is geometric symmetry. In the opening of the film, for example, two white squares on the left and right sides of the screen move towards each other along an axially symmetric path until they finally “fuse” into a larger white square, before breaking apart into shrinking squares that careen off diagonally, in parallel with one another. At the end of the film, this same sequence re-appears, but this time inverted, with black squares moving against a white background. The visual motifs in between resemble those of the earlier picture scrolls and it is thus not surprising that Richter included parts of the test film he had made of his Präludium scroll. As a favour to his old friend Tristan Tzara, the film was premiered in Paris during the final Dada soiree on 6 July 1923. (18) This has led many critics to mistakenly read it, and indeed all of Richter’s abstract work as Dada, despite the fact that his writings and films demonstrate a much stronger affinity with the rationalist systemiticity of Constructivism.
Richter began work on his final abstract film, eventually titled Rhythmus 25, late in 1923. After creating a scroll, Orchestration der Farbe (Orchestration of Color, 1923), that he could use as a model, Richter hand-painted every frame of the film, using colour as another contrast to heighten the tension of the movement of squares, lines, and bands. Since the hand-colouring was extremely expensive, Richter produced only one film print which, unfortunately, has not survived. In an unpublished monograph, however, Richter explains his intended colour scheme for the film:
Between green and red are all the colors, as between black and white is all the light. The scientifically denominated elementary colors, blue, red, and yellow, do not have, aesthetically speaking, an absolute distance from each other. Red and yellow are nearer (warm); blue is opposite of yellow as well as of red; whereas green and red are incomparably unequal to each other… All other colors I consider more or less variations. (19)
Rhythmus 25 was premiered at the “First International Avant-Garde Film Exhibition” held in 1925 at the UFA Theatre Kurfuerstendamm in Berlin. Titled “Der Absolute Film” and sponsored by the Novembergruppe, the program also included Rhythmus 23, Eggeling’s Symphonie Diagonale (1924), Walter Ruttmann’s Opus III (1923), Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mecanique (1924), and René Clair and Francis Picabia’s Entr’acte (1924), all of which were concerned with the elaboration of a uniquely cinematic rhythm. (20) A major critical and commercial success, the exhibition helped to legitimize abstract film and gave a significant cultural caché to the avant-garde.
Film Study
At the very moment when the popularity of non-representational “absolute film” was reaching its peak, however, Richter began integrating photographic material into his film experiments. The first such work was Filmstudie (Film Study, 1926), a highly evocative non-narrative film that connects human faces, floating eyeballs, and abstract forms through a series of poetic visual associations. Observing that “as a painter as well as a film maker, [he doesn’t] see any contradiction between natural and abstract forms”, Richter claimed that Film Study “develops abstract forms as part of the world we live in, as its nearest expression underlying the unending manifoldness of appearances” (21). Running for approximately four minutes, the film is composed of 45 “shots” lasting for between two and six seconds, each of which is bridged by a cut that either connects a geometric shape to rays of varying intensity or analogizes a photographic object to an abstract form. To cite just two examples, brief shots of birds on a pier alternate with dots in the same positions while an image of a man smashing the ground with a hammer is intercut with swaths of light whose orientation resembles that of his legs. This method is similar to that used in both Ballet Mecanique and Man Ray’s Emak Bakia (1926), although it goes further than either film as a study of the perceptual process and a reflexive comment of the act of viewing. Of the 45 shots in Film Study, eleven depict human eyes looking back at the camera while another nine contain beams of light moving quickly across the screen like spotlights, self-conscious reminders of the projected status of the film image.
Several historians, including Richter, have made the somewhat anachronistic claim that Film Study is a “surrealistic” film because it develops, like a dream, through a series of unexpected associations. (22) While this reading helps to explain the surprising consonance of the film’s imagery with the traditions of the German fantastic film, it ignores the extent to which Film Study is structurally symmetrical: the film begins with a cut from an orb rising up against a wavelike background to multiple exposures of a woman’s face looking up and ends with a cut from the same faces looking down to a shot of the orb descending. Far more “surrealistic” in both form and function is Vormittagsspuk (Ghosts Before Breakfast, 1928), a film produced for the International Music Festival at Baden-Baden. The project was initiated by Paul Hindemith, who composed original music for the film that, since sound-film technology did not yet exist, was conducted from a rolling score. The score was later attached to a two-inch sound version of the film that was intended for general release but “got lost” by the Nazi authorities. (23)
Ghosts Before Breakfast
A virtual compendium of the technical devices – superimposition, negative-positive reversals, slow motion and sudden shifts in the camera’s shutter speed – that could be used to deform and denaturalize photographic material, Ghosts Before Breakfast is Richter’s most loosely structured, improvisatory film. Running for just under ten minutes, the film takes place during the interval between 11:50 and noon, with the synchronicity between diegetic and real time in the opening shots and the reflexive images of the clock used to deceptively suggest that the film will proceed according to narrative conventions. Richter quickly subverts these expectations by treating legs, ladders, hats, beards and clocks less as real objects than as free forms, and by assembling them into a deliberately irrational “story”. By reversing the assumed roles of people and inanimate objects, the film undermines traditional subject-object relations and encourages viewers to question the assumed stability of the world around them. In this way, the film attains a political significance that was, apparently, not missed on the German censors who condemned it as “degenerate art”.
Both Film Study and Ghosts Before Breakfast were financed using the money Richter made producing a series of ten-minute publicity films for companies like Muratti cigarettes and Sommerfeld building contractors. Richter has said that the camera was still “something strange to [him]” when he made Rhythmus 25, and these short advertisements, produced weekly beginning in early 1926, enabled him to improve his knowledge of film technique and to greatly expand his range of stylistic options. (24) The success of the “Der Absolute Film” program had given avant-garde filmmakers a surprisingly high degree of commercial credibility, so Richter had considerable freedom to experiment with each of these works, on the condition that the name of the sponsor appear at least once. In Zweigroschenzauber (Two-Pence Magic, 1929), for example, Richter uses the techniques of Film Study to narrate the contents of an illustrated magazine by relating the movements of diverse objects. In one particularly strong sequence, Richter establishes relationships between dissimilar actions by associatively intercutting rapid shots of legs pedalling a bicycle, a child kicking, the flight of a plane, a diver, a looping plane and the flight of a pigeon. The sponsoring magazine is referenced only in the final shot of the film. Richter’s most important commissioned work was Inflation (1927), a brief introduction to a documentary that dialectically relates the exchange of money and the growing number of zeros on the Mark. Inflation pessimistically suggested that the financial crisis would continue unabated under capitalism, but it was considered a major artistic success by contemporary critics and made possible the creation of additional “introductions” such as Rennsymphonie (Race Symphony, 1929).
Richter’s commercial experiments represent only one example of the fluid interchange between the avant-garde and the film industry in the Weimar period. Walter Ruttmann, the other major avant-gardist in Germany up until 1928, had made his first hand-coloured Opus films by using “a small structure with turning, horizontal sticks on which plasticine forms were easily charged during the shooting” (25). After making contact with Fritz Lang at UFA, he applied these same techniques to the hawk dream sequence in the first part of Die Nibelungen (1924). The success of “Der Absolute Film”and the support of Karl Freund enabled him to direct his most ambitious film, Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a City, 1927), a documentary portrait of a typical day in Berlin that musically synchronized abstract forms, human movement and natural objects. According to Richter, it was with the release of Berlin that avant-garde filmmaking was publicly legitimated:
Edmund Meisel’s music, the first score written for a film, at least in Germany [in this respect, it precedes Ghosts Before Breakfast by a year], was an additional fact that made the premiere an outstanding event at the Tauentzien Palast, an elegant theater in the most fashionable shopping district of Berlin. Since the days of Potemkin [Bronenosets Potyomkin, Sergei M. Eisenstein], in 1925, no other film had attracted as much public participation. The “Berliner” participated in Berlin. The “absolute film” as it was still called, was accepted. (26)
The success of Berlin made it possible for Ruttmann’s assistant, Oscar Fischinger, to begin making his carefully orchestrated animations in German (and later Hollywood) film studios, and eventually led to the release of Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday, 1929), an “avant-garde” documentary that launched the careers of Robert Siodmak, Fred Zinnemann and Billy Wilder. (27)
Everything Revolves, Everything Turns
With the advent of sound technology, German avant-garde filmmaking became even more directly intertwined with industrial technology. The first person to have access to sound equipment in Germany was Ruttmann, who used an early version of the Tobis system to create Weekend (1929), a picture-less collage of natural sounds that many critics regard as his finest achievement. (28) That same year, Richter directed a three-reel film made in a 2-inch-wide negative using the new Tobis equipment. Entitled Alles dreht sich, Alles bewegt sich! (Everything Revolves, Everything Turns, 1929), the film was an attempt to translate “the uninhibited fun-making of the fair into real fantasy”, although it also functions as a sharp caricature of the period. (29) As per the title, the images are somewhat discontinuous, change rapidly and are in nearly perpetual motion, with rotating objects (such as balls spinning in the air) used as recurring leitmotivs. By cutting from shots of corpulent men in a sauna to fat hands in a lap, a stork, a German flag, a bear mascot and a betting booth where money is rapidly exchanged, the film also transforms the fairground into a metaphor for the fundamental instability of Weimar society. Despite its implied social critique and the fact that the audio track consisted of overlapping fragments of recorded conversations, the sponsors were very positive about the film, and released it as a demonstration of their new sound technology.
Although he was not opposed to the industrial appropriation of avant-garde techniques, Richter was actively committed to ensuring the autonomy of independently produced “poetic” films. (30) In 1927, he founded Germany’s first avant-garde film forum, Gesellschaft für Neuen Film, helped to finance the creation of its first avant-garde film theatre, Kamera, and gave a series of lectures on filmmaking at the Bauhaus. He enthusiastically endorsed the second-wave of German independent films, such as the painter Ernö Metzner’s Uberfall (1928) and, as artistic director of the film section, co-organized the international “Film und Foto” exhibition held in Stuttgart in 1929. As the handbook for the exhibition, Richter wrote Filmgegner von heute – Filmfreunde von morgen (Film Enemies of Today, Film Friends of Tomorrow), a volume of short, thematically related texts presented along with supplementary illustrations. One of the earliest histories of cinema, the book – and its partner Der Kampf um den Film (The Struggle for the Film, which was written in 1930 but not published until 1939) – traces the gradual development of cinema from its early, purely reproductive origins to its contemporary creative stage. Unlike the contemporaneous historico-theoretical treatises of Rudolph Arnheim and Béla Balázs, however, Richter’s book assumes neither a linear conception of stylistic progress nor a sense of the medium’s unfolding potential. (31) Instead, it valorises individual expression and posits a fluid sense of film history that is as variegated as the diverse array of people who contributed to its artistic development. (32)
The final flourishing of the first European avant-garde occurred between 1928 and 1930. Late in 1929, Richter attended the First International Film Congress of the Independent Film at La Sarrasz and was appointed the leader of the “Internationale of the Avant-Garde”. Concerned about the increasingly tense political situation in Europe and eager to use the film to fight against fascism, the Internationale was dissolved by the fourteen participating countries a year later at the second Congress in Brussels in December 1930. While the First Congress celebrated personal expression and the utopian ideals of the avant-garde film, the Second Congress belaboured the rising costs of sound film production and encouraged members to begin work in documentary film, where plastic creativity could be pragmatically applied to socially useful ends. Like most of his colleagues, Richter was responsive to the acute political crisis of his era and wrote a manifesto in which he argued that rather than making films as artistic experiments, independent filmmakers should produce films that “deal with the social, political, and human ideas of their time” (33). Throughout the early 1930s, Richter’s cinema became increasingly politicized, achieving its most advanced statement in Metall (1931-3), an uncompleted feature-documentary about the suppression of a labour strike in Hennigsdorf by the Nazis. (34)
Unfortunately, with the exception of Neues Leben (1930) – a film explaining the ideas about modern life, architecture, and design developed at the Bauhaus – and a few commissioned documentaries like the recently re-discovered Van Blikesemschicht Tot Televisie (From Lightning to Television, 1936), Richter was unable to finish most of the film projects he initiated in the 1930s. (35)
The “Narcissus” episode of Dreams that Money Can Buy
Richter fled Germany in 1933 and, after travelling through Europe for several years, eventually found his way to New York City. Unable to pay for film stock during the war years, he produced a series of politically charged scroll collages, with titles like Liberation of Paris (1945) and Victory in the East (Stalingrad) (1943-44). Painted on top of newspaper clippings detailing Hitler’s progress, the scrolls set amorphous forms against the rigid geometric shapes of the earlier scrolls, softening the points of structural tension while increasing the visual complexity of the overall composition. Richter’s last major film, the feature-length Dreams that Money Can Buy (1944-7), reflects a similar adjustment to his earlier film æsthetics. Financed by Peggy Guggenheim and Kenneth MacPherson, Dreams that Money Can Buy was the first attempt by a member of the original European avant-garde to make an experimental feature in the post-war era and it was honoured with a special award at the 1947 Venice Film Festival. The finished film is a compilation of seven unrelated dream sequences linked together by a shared frame story, each of which was filmed by Richter and “designed” in collaboration with one of his artist friends from Europe (in order: Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Man Ray and Hans Arp) and, finally, Richter by himself. Richter’s episode, the most allegorical and autobiographical, is a variation on the story of Narcissus about a man who discovers that he is blue, looks into a mirror and passes through it into a world that reflects his inner life. With its soft colour palette, expressive use of a subjective camera, deep-focus cinematography and enigmatic narrative, the “Narcissus” episode explicitly simulates the texture and flow of a dream, and it is unsurprising that Richter claims to have made it in a trance. (36)
In one of his final essays, Richter observed that the “pure cinema” has three characteristics that determine its place in twentieth-century society: the freedom of the artist; the moral responsibility of film content; and the value of the obscure. (37) Although all three of these criteria are inter-related, they also delineate, roughly, three of the major stages of the history of the international avant-garde cinema: the initial assertion of cinematic independence (1921-9); the turn towards a more politicized use of the documentary form in the 1930s; and finally the emergence of the romantic, “visionary” New York-based avant-garde of the 1940s and 1950s. Having played a pivotal role as an activist during the first two stages, Richter’s major contribution to the third was as an educator. As the first director of the Film Institute of the City College of New York from 1942 to 1957, he taught, befriended and supported such seminal members of the New American Cinema as Maya Deren, Jonas Mekas and Shirley Clarke. (38) As significant as his publications, paintings and organizational activities were, however, his primary achievement was the creation of nearly a dozen independently controlled films. Having affirmed the formal integrity of the screen as a flat surface in his first film, he ended his career with a set of oneiric feature-length films (Dreams that Money Can Buy, 8×8 and Dadascope) that emphasized the revelatory potential of the irrational and the subconscious depths of the human psyche. In moving between these two poles, Richter’s film corpus mirrors, in microcosm, the dominant historical trajectory of the avant-garde film.


  1. The only major exception was Luis Buñuel, who nevertheless made his first films in close collaboration with the painter Salvador Dali.
  2. Timothy O. Benson, “Abstraction, Autonomy, and Contradiction in the Politicization of the Art of Hans Richter”, in Stephen Foster (Ed.), Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1998), p. 20.
  3. Justin Hoffmann, for example, has argued that, “Because it was impossible to exercise any influence on contemporary socio-cultural conditions, [the former Action Committee members] focused their interests on a utopian plane. Their premise was a new system of communication based on visual perception.” Justin Hoffman, “Hans Richter: Constructivist Filmmaker”, in Foster, p. 75.
  4. Hans Richter, “Easel-Scroll-Film”, Magazine of Art, No. 45 (February 1952), p. 82.
  5. Cleve Gray (Ed.), Hans Richter by Hans Richter (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 67.
  6. Richter, “Easel-Scroll-Film”, p. 83.
  7. Gideon Bachmann and Jonas Mekas, “From Interviews With Hans Richter during the Last Ten Years”, Film Culture, No. 31 (Winter 1963-4), p. 26.
  8. Richter claimed that the demands of memory stimulated an active viewing that “carries with it the kind of satisfaction which one might feel if one were suddenly to discover new or unusual forms of one’s imagination”. Richter, “Easel-Scroll-Film”, p. 87. Eggeling made the more ambitious claim that, in the scroll paintings, “Becoming and duration are not in any way a diminution of unchanging eternity; they are its expression. Every form occupies not only space but time. Being and becoming are one […] What should be grasped and given form are things in flux.” Ibid.
  9. Hoffmann, p. 78.
  10. According to Hoffmann, images from the resulting test film were nevertheless published in 1921 in Theo van Doesburg’s journal, De Stijl. Ibid.
  11. Richter, “The Avantgarde Film Seen from Within”, Hollywood Quarterly 4, No. 1 (Fall 1949), p. 37.
  12. Richter, “Rhythm”, Little Review (Winter 1926), p. 21.
  13. Bachmann, p. 29.
  14. Richter, “Avant-Garde Film in Germany”, in Roger Manvell (Ed.), Experiment in the Film (New York: Arno Press, 1949), p. 223.
  15. Hoffmann, pp. 84-5.
  16. Marion von Hofacker, “Richter’s Films and the Role of the Radical Artist, 1927-1941”, in Foster, p. 113.
  17. Bernd Finkeldey, “Hans Richter and the Constructivist International”, in Foster, p. 101.
  18. Standish D. Lawder, The Cubist Cinema (New York: New York University Press, 1975), p. 26.
  19. Gray, p. 85.
  20. Richter, “Avant-Garde Film in Germany”, p. 223.
  21. Jonas Mekas, “Hans Richter on the Nature of Film Poetry”, Film Culture 3, No. 11 (1957), p. 5.
  22. See, for example, Stephen Foster, “Hans Richter: Prophet of Modernism”, in Foster, p. 13, or Hans Richter, The Struggle for the Film (New York: Scolar Press, 1986), p. 60.
  23. Richter, “Avant-Garde Film in Germany”, p. 226.
  24. Ibid, p. 223.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid, p. 225.
  27. According to Richter, People on Sunday was marketed and released as an avant-garde picture, a name which “was at that time a kind of an ‘Oscar’” and which it earned due to its “lack of pompousness and its documentary quality.” Ibid, p. 230.
  28. Paul Falkenberg, “Sound Montage: A Propos de Ruttmann”, Film Culture, No. 23 (1961), p. 60.
  29. Richter, “A History of the Avant-Garde”, p. 8.
  30. In his second book, Richter wrote: “the industrial film can take from film poetry whatever it wants. It is indeed very advantageous for the industrial film to have an experimental laboratory for which it doesn’t have to pay.” Richter, The Struggle for the Film, p. 29.
  31. David Bordwell has identified these as characteristic elements of what he has called the “Standard Version” of film history in On the History of Film Style (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997), pp. 28-35.
  32. “The divergence of inspirations within society naturally finds an expression in the cinema. To write the history of cinema as if it was borne by a unitary cultural will has long been a disputable enterprise. Today such a historiography of the art of film can only serve to confuse, not to clarify.” Richter, The Struggle for the Film, pp. 28-9.
  33. Richter, “A History of the Avant-Garde”, p. 18.
  34. Foster, p. 15.
  35. This is one reason why, aside from a brief description of the Metall project in Stephen Foster’s introduction to Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde, this period remains a lacuna in the critical literature on Richter. Vom Blitz zum Fernsehbild was meticulously restored by The Netherlands Film Museum in the 1990s but has had only a handful of public screenings.
  36. Reportedly, the original plan was for Richter to make a frame story linking his ten short films together so that they could be shown at Herman Weinberg’s theatre in Greenwich Village. Once he received the money for the frame story, however, he decided that he might as well use it to shoot an entirely new film. For a more detailed description, see Gray, pp. 51-54.
  37. Richter, “30 Years of Film Poetry: Self-Expression and Communication”, unpublished manuscript.
  38. Robert Russett and Cecile Starr (Eds), Experimental Animation (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976), p. 49. It was partially as a result of Richter’s sponsorship that Maya Deren became the first filmmaker to receive a Guggenheim fellowship in 1947.

Hans Richter, Dada Pioneer
by Valery Oisteanu


"Hans Richter: Early Works from the Estate" at Janos Gat Gallery, installation view, with The Flute Player (1905), center

Hans Richter

Colorful City with Zeppelin

Visionary Portrait - Emmy Hennings

Visionary Portrait - Macabre

Study for Prelude

Portrait of Dora Rukser
"Hans Richter: Early Works from the Estate," Sept. 21-Nov. 6, 2004, at the Janos Gat Gallery, 1100 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10028 A visionary painter, graphic artist and an experimental filmmaker, the German modernist Hans Richter (1888-1976) was one of the original members of Dada. Though best known for his experiments in avant-garde cinema (beginning around 1917), Richter worked as a painter from about 1905, when he was 17, until 1919. Influenced by German Expressionism and early Cubism, his landscapes and urban scenes are in Der Blaue Reiter style, and his portraits with their deep colors are dramatic and mysterious.
Richter was born into a well-to-do family in Berlin. Although they were considered German Protestant in Third Reich documents, after the German re-unification in 1989 it was disclosed that both of his parents were Jewish. At the age of 16, Richter visited a Manet exhibition. His impression was of "absolutely heavenly music," and from then on his ambition was to become a painter.
Richters real conversion to modernism occurred in 1912, when he visited a Czanne exhibition and saw Les grandes baigneuses. He recollected, "I found it awful, ridiculous, badly drawn -- but an hour later I saw it again; I wasnt looking at it, it was looking at me! Suddenly something struck me, a kind of musical rhythm -- that was so to say, the first finger that touched me from the hands of the gods of modern art."
Richter was an expressionist from the beginning. The earliest painting in the show (and the earliest known painting by the artist) is The Flute Player, completed in 1905 when the artist was 17. A fleshy bacchanal of blues, greens and ochres, the picture shows nude dancer frolicking to the jazz of a faun-like piper. Another early work, done in 1911 in a similar, "Blue Period" style, shows a group of workers, perhaps installing a flagpole or streetlight, in a pose that anticipates the famous World War II image from Iwo Jima.
In 1913. Richter joined the group Der Sturm and later became acquainted with Die Brcke group in Dresden. He also met Marinetti, who articulated an esthetic of the machine. One year later he joined the circle of artists gathered around Franz Pfemfert, publisher of Die Aktion, a leftist avant-garde art magazine.
Several months after the war was declared, Richter served in the light artillery at Vilna, Lithuania, where he was wounded. Partially paralyzed, he was sent to a hospital near Berlin and later placed into the reserves, where over the next three years he published political and satirical graphics in Die Aktion.
On Sept. 15, 1916, Richter kept an absurd appointment that he had made two years prior, during the war. He was to meet his friends, if they survived, in Zurich after the war at the Caf de la Terrasse. Richter recounts, "There were waiting for me two poets, fellow soldiers. They introduced me to the three young men sitting with them: Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco and his brother Georges. I landed on both feet squarely inside what was already called the Dada group." Richter drew a portrait of one of the friends on that day, the poet Ferdinand Hardekopf (this drawing, done in pencil on paper, hangs at the entrance of the show). Several of Richters "Dada Kopfs" are in the exhibition as well as the studies for his film Prelude and several scrolls.
Richter believed that the artist's duty was to oppose war and support the revolution. He exhibited paintings at the first "Dada Exhibition," alongside works by Hans Arp, Janco and Otto van Rees. In his anti war drawings, his critical view of militaristic Germany was very clear as in Inspection (1917), ink on paper, depicting a recruiting station for soldiers for World War I or a drawing depicting a headless cow and two dead soldiers and a third one still standing and fighting called A World where Anything Could Happen (1917), a work done in pencil on paper.
That year also saw one of Richters more radical experimental works -- several paintings made in a completely dark room. Visionary Portrait - Tropical Madonna (1917) uses the entire palette in its fractured, Cubist-style picture of red and yellow babies surrounding a female angel, who raises her hands like wings. Another work from 1917, Visionary Portrait-Emmy Hennings, is a Kandinskyesque portrait of the celebrated Cabaret Voltaire star (and wife of Dadaist Hugo Ball).
In early spring of 1918 Tristan Tzara introduced Richter to the Swedish painter Helmuth Viking Eggeling. This meeting marked the beginning of a fruitful artistic collaboration. In April of that year Richter founded the association of Radical Artists in Zurich, which called for radical art reform and the redefinition of art in society. Richter was also summoned to serve in the socialist government in Munich -- an experiment that collapsed after one week.
On May 1, 1919, the Bavarian Freikorps took over, killing 1,000 people in six days. Hans and his brother Richard were arrested, tried and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Through their mother Ida Richters influential connections at the Ministry of Justice, the brothers were released after two weeks of detention. Hans returned to Zurich, resuming his collaboration with Viking Eggeling. Later that year, Richter, Arp, Walter Serner and Tzara staged the Ninth Dada Soiree in Zurich and two months later Tzara left for Paris. This marked the end of Dada activities in Zurich.
Viking Eggeling came to live on the Richter estate in the Swiss countryside where Hans and his friend resumed their experiments with geometric compositions. Richter completed his first scroll drawing, Composition Heavy/Light, a series of geometric forms that became the basis of his pioneering experimental films. In 1920 Eggeling and Richter wrote the pamphlet Universelle Sprache in which they likened abstract form to a kind of universal language. Richter concluded that filmmaking was governed by its own laws, different from those that apply to painting, and decided to discard form altogether and articulate time in various rhythms and tempos instead. Richters first film, Film is Rhythm (1921), had a running time of one and a half minutes.
After his emigration to the U.S. in 1941, Richter served as an important conduit between the American and European art communities. His easel and scroll paintings hang in museums around the world. Before his death in 1976 he had been a professor of art at City College in New York and an author of 16 books and pamphlets, among them a famous, personal history of Dada (DuMont, Cologne,1964) and a number of Surrealist short films.

Hans Richter (April 6, 1888 – February 1, 1976) was a painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, film-experimenter and producer.[1] He was born in Berlin into a well-to-do family and died in Minusio, near Locarno, Switzerland.
Richter's first contacts with modern art were in 1912 through the "Blaue Reiter" and in 1913 through the "Erster Deutsche Herbstsalon" gallery "Der Sturm", in Berlin. In 1914 he was influenced by cubism. He contributed to the periodical Die Aktion in Berlin.[2] His first exhibition was in Munich in 1916, and Die Aktion published as a special edition about him. In the same year he was wounded and discharged from the army and went to Zürich and joined the Dada movement.
Richter believed that the artist's duty was to be actively political, opposing war and supporting the revolution. His first abstract works were made in 1917. In 1918, he befriended Viking Eggeling, and the two experimented together with film. Richter was co-founder, in 1919, of the Association of Revolutionary Artists ("Artistes Radicaux") at Zürich. In the same year he created his first Prélude (an orchestration of a theme developed in eleven drawings). In 1920 he was a member of the November group in Berlin and contributed to the Dutch periodical De Stijl.
Throughout his career, he claimed that his 1921 film, Rhythmus 21, was the first abstract film ever created. This claim is not true: he was preceded by the Italian Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna between 1911 and 1912 [3](as they report in the Futurist Manifesto of Cinema [4]), as well as by fellow German artist Walter Ruttmann who produced Lichtspiel Opus 1 in 1920. Nevertheless, Richter's film Rhythmus 21 is considered an important early abstract film.
About Richter's woodcuts and drawings Michel Seuphor wrote: "Richter's black-and-whites together with those of Arp and Janco, are the most typical works of the Zürich period of Dada." From 1923 to 1926, Richter edited, together with Werner Gräff and Mies van der Rohe, the periodical G. Material zur elementaren Gestaltung. Richter wrote of his own attitude toward film:
"I conceive of the film as a modern art form particularly interesting to the sense of sight. Painting has its own peculiar problems and specific sensations, and so has the film. But there are also problems in which the dividing line is obliterated, or where the two infringe upon each other. More especially, the cinema can fulfill certain promises made by the ancient arts, in the realization of which painting and film become close neighbors and work together."

Richter moved from Switzerland to the United States in 1940 and became an American citizen. He taught in the Institute of Film Techniques at the City College of New York.[5]
While living in New York, Richter directed two feature films, Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) and 8 x 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (1957) in collaboration with Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Paul Bowles, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, and others, which was partially filmed on the lawn of his summer house in Southbury, Connecticut.
In 1957, he finished a film entitled Dadascope with original poems and prose spoken by their creators: Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Raoul Hausmann, Richard Huelsenbeck, and Kurt Schwitters.
After 1958, Richter spent parts of the year in Ascona and Connecticut and returned to painting.[5]
Richter was also the author of a first-hand account of the Dada movement titled Dada: Art and Anti-Art [6] which also included his reflections on the emerging Neo-Dada artworks.


Dadascope (1961)
8 x 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (1957)
Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947)
Vom Blitz zum Fernsenhbild (1936)
Keine Zeit für Tränen (1934)
Hallo Everybody (1933)
Europa Radio (1931)
Neues Leben (1930)
Alles dreht sich, alles bewegt sich (1929)
Everyday (1929)
Rennsymphonie (1929)
The Storming of La Sarraz (1929)
Zweigroschenzauber (1929)
Vormittagsspuk ("Ghosts Before Breakfast", with music by Hindemith) (1928)
Inflation (1927)
Filmstudie (1926) with music by Darius Milhaud
Rhythmus 25 (1925)
Rhythmus 23 (1923)
Rhythmus 21 (1921) - wikipedia 
Hans Richter (1888-1976)

Rhythm expresses something different from thought

Painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, film-experimenter and producer. First contacts with modern art in 1912 through the "Blauen Reiter" and in 1913 through the "Erster Deutsche Herbstsalon" gallery "Der Sturm", Berlin. In 1914 he was influenced by cubism. Contributed to the periodical "Die Aktion" in Berlin. First exhibition in Munich, 1916. "Die Aktion" published as a special edition about Hans Richter. In the same year he went to Zürich and joined the Dada movement. Richter propounded the thesis that the artist's duty was to be actively political, opposing war and supporting the revolution. First abstract works in 1917. Friendship with Viking Eggeling in 1918, the two experimented together in Film. Was co-founder, in 1919, of the Association of Revolutionary Artists ("Artistes Radicaux") at Zürich. In the same year he created his first "Prélude" (orchestration of a theme developed in eleven drawings). In 1920 he was a member of the November group in Berlin and contributed to the Dutch periodical "De Stijl." In 1921 he made the first abstract film, "Rhythme 21," which today is considered a classic among avant-garde films. About Richter's woodcuts and drawings Michel Seuphor wrote: "Richter's black-and-whites together with those of Arp and Janco, are the most typical works of the Zürich period of Dada." From 1923 to 1926, Richter edited, together with Werner Gräff and Mies von der Rohe, the periodical "G. Material zur elementaren Gestaltung." Hans Richter wrote of his own attitude of films: "I conceive of the film as a modern art form particularly interesting to the sense of sight. Painting has its own pecular problems and specific sensations, and so has the film. But there are also problems in which the dividing line is obliterated, or where the two infringe upon each other. More especially, the cinema can fufill certain promises made by the ancient arts, in the realization of which painting and film become close neighbors and work together." In 1957, Hans Richter finished a film named "Dadascope" with original poems and prosa spoken by their creators: Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Raoul Hausmann, Richard Huelsenbeck, and Kurt Schwitters. 

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