William Moritz

1941 - 2004 Curator Artist Writer Critic

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Dr. William Moritz was a world-renowned expert on animation, experimental film and visual music, and authored more than 100 articles, chapters and program notes. His Fischinger biography Optical Poetry is the culmination of 34 years of research and work with the Fischinger Archive. Optical Poetry reveals his passion for the Fischinger legacy, and also details his decades of work and travels with Elfriede Fischinger.

Born May 6, 1941 in Williams, Arizona, Moritz was raised in Arizona and Southern California. He received his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1968 (Comparative Literature, minor in Cinema). He began teaching at Occidental College in 1965, and continued teaching film and humanities at institutions including Otis Art Institute, Pitzer College, American University Center (Calcutta, India), UCLA, Art Center College of Design, USC and CalArts. He worked as a researcher and translator for the television show "Ripley's Believe It or Not," with the film distributor Creative Film Society, and at radio station KPFK as a film and music critic. He promoted experimental film and visual music through venues like Los Angeles Filmmaker's Cooperative, Theatre Vanguard and Los Angeles Film Oasis; and was a member of the Visual Music Alliance in the '80s.

Moritz' own 34 films, both experimental and animation, have screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Tokyo, and venues including Pacific Film Archive, Anthology Film Archive, San Francisco Art Institute, Academy of Fine Arts (the Hague), and Filmforum (Los Angeles). He toured giving poetry readings, had many of his poems published, and two of his plays were produced including a number of performances of The Midas Well Show. He published widely on animation, visual music and experimental film, including articles on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Visual Music, Jordan Belson, the Fleischer Brothers, Bruce Conner, Hy Hirsh, Mary Ellen Bute, Harry Smith and other filmmakers. He authored 200 pages on the History of Experimental Animation for the Absolut Panushka website.

Moritz was a past president of the Society for Animation Studies, and lectured at film festivals, museums, universities and conferences worldwide. He was actively involved in preservation work on numerous films and received a Film Preservation Award from Anthology Film Archive. He curated film exhibitions and was a guest curator for several art exhibitions, including "The Spiritual in Art" and "Degenerate Art" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He appeared in television documentaries including the French Paths of Light, the British Abstract Cinema, and the American Camera Three. In 1993, he was honored with a lifetime achievement trophy for service to Visual Music by the Royal Academy of the Netherlands. In 1995, he received an American Film Institute Independent Filmmakers Grant for his film, All My Lost Lovers. He was a member of the faculty at California Institute of the Arts, and a member of the Board of Advisors and a founder of the Center for Visual Music. Dr. Moritz died on March 12, 2004 in Mokelumne Hill, California, after a long struggle with cancer.

[Source: Center for Visual Music]