Rhythmus 21 (1921)

Richter's earliest experiments were hardly more than tests, Rhythmus 21 is a serious abstract animation composed solely of squares and rectangles that change shape. Artists like Luis Bunuel & Fritz Lang were influenced by him.
Hans Richter was a painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, film-experimenter and producer. He was influenced by Cubism and Expressionism and joined in the Dadaist movemet in the 1916. Richter’s collaboration with Viking Eggeling on drawings, abstract sketches, and most importantly on ‘scroll paintings’, provided the inspiration for Rhythmus 21.

The original film was roughly two minutes long. Over the next two years Richter worked on the film and extended it to almost seven minutes. Before October 16th, 1927 when the film was screened at the Film Society in London, Richter divided the film in two parts and later on called it Rhythmus 21 and Rhythmus 23. In the following year Richter created another chapter, Rhytmus 25, which didn't survive.
These forms appear in very simple to very complex compositions-from the beginning shots where the squares appear with the frame. In Rhythmus 23 there are more angle and line overlays rather than adherence to the squares as in Rhytmus 21.
It's very interesting how these short films resemble some aspects of 1950's beatnik art & 1960's op art. The final effect is a subversion of the cinematic illusion of depth. Richter creates a precise rhythm with the movement of these shapes and suggests connections through opposites: black/white, left/right, top/bottom and creates visual associations with geometric patterns.


Nadine said...

Thanks for this :) You helped me with my presentation x

Mella said...

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Nathaniel Evans said...

Another artist influenced by Richter was Abbé Faria. Richter was actually friends with the Faria family and Faria's work "Bosh, it's an artwork", 1967 was said to have been in response to Rhythmus 21. If you hear of it in an exhibition at some point it is definitely worth checking out.