Robert Breer

Robert Breer's career as artist and animator spans 50 years and his creative explorations have made him an international figure. He began his artistic pursuits as a painter while living in Paris from 1949-59. Using an old Bolex 16mm camera, his first films, such as Form Phases, were simple stop motion studies based on his abstract paintings.

Breer has always been fascinated by the mechanics of film. Perhaps his father's fascination with 3-D inspired Breer to tinker with early mechanical cinematic devices. His father was an engineer and designer of the legendary Chrysler Airflow automobile in 1934 and built a 3-D camera to film all the family vacations. After studying engineering at Stanford, Breer changed his focus toward hand crafted arts and began experimenting with flip books. These animations, done on ordinary 4" by 6" file cards have become the standard for all of Breer's work.

When asked about his work, he says that he still relies on the history of cinema and early "gadgets" as the source of his inspiration. His work "Now You See It" (1996), uses a two sided panel which spins into an animated film much like a Thaumatrope, the first cinematic device that used persistence of vision back in 1826. Like two slides flipping back and forth, it is a continuous animation based on his explorations into the devices of cinema's early history (and prehistory), which dazzled audiences by creating visual kinesis.

At the heart of his work is the imagination of the artist mixed with the inquisitive mind of the mad scientist, delving into lost archives of cinema to revive forgotten art forms and giving them new life for generations to come. This is the secret to Breer's unique world.

-Jackie Leger