Colored Rhythm

Leopold Survage (1912)

In the early 1910’s, painter, designer, and illustrator Leopold Survage sought to transcend the “immobility” of abstract painting by animating colorful forms through film. Survage, born Leopold Sturzwage, was a student at Moscow’s School of Fine Arts when he discovered French modernism, inspiring his move to Paris in 1908. Survage joined the city’s coterie of avant-garde artists, exhibited his work at the Salon des Independants, and attained the support of Guillaume Apollinaire. Contemporary developments in abstract painting propelled his experiments with rhythm-color “symphonies,” resulting in a series of hand-drawn colored abstractions (produced between 1912 and 1913), which he intended to transform into pulsating rhythmic forms using a team of animators and a three-color camera. Survage considered his Rhythm colore series an autonomous art form analogous to music.

Survage considered his film analogous to music. Purely abstract colorful forms would kinetically interact creating in the viewers mind melodic and harmonic rhythm. His pioneering efforts to create the first abstract film were curtailed by the outbreak of World War I, and his color “plates” were never filmed. Survage continued to paint and produce designs and illustrations until his death

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