Preludium study and notes, 1919
Courtesy Erik de Bourbon-Parme and Art Acquest LLC for the Hans Richter Estate
© Art Acquest LLC

In the 1920s, the painter Hans Richter, like Viking Eggeling and Walter Ruttmann, turned to the new medium of film. The scroll drawing Präludium represents a transitional conceptual format leading from the classical canvas to the moving image in film. This sequence of forms was at first carried out as an experiment with small-format, individual studies that were lined up next to each other, before Richter executed it on a large scroll. Präludium is an early attempt to represent musically-conceived time in a static picture. From left to right, a variation of figures evolves, derived from three theme-like basic figures. The endeavor to systematize elementary forms within a contextual structure links Richter’s concepts with those of constructivism and De Stijl. Richter’s formal structure also develops as a prelude in the sense of a free character piece about the horizontal temporal axis.