Peter Kubelka

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Peter Kubelka (2015)

Peter Kubelka (born March 23, 1934 in Vienna ) is an Austrian filmmaker and artist. Kubelka was a co-founder and long-time co-director of the Austrian Film Museum .


Peter Kubelka grew up in Taufkirchen an der Pram in Upper Austria . In his youth he was the Vienna Boys' Choir (1944–1947) and Austrian junior champion in discus throwing (1953) and judoka . He studied from 1952 to 1954 at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and from 1954 to 1955 at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome .

In February 1964, Peter Kubelka and the film enthusiast Peter Konlechner founded the Austrian Film Museum, which they jointly ran until 2001. They met in 1962 at the " International Short Film Week " organized by Peter Konlechner as part of his student film club Cinestudio at the Technical University of Vienna . Its aim was to establish a center in Austria for the presentation and preservation of international film history.

In 1970 Peter Kubelka co-founded the Anthology Film Archives in New York, where he was able to realize his concept of Invisible Cinema for the first time and was a member of the jury for the Essential Cinema film cycle .

From 1978 to 2000 he taught as a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and headed the class for film and cooking as an art form and was rector from 1985 to 1988 .

In 1980 he founded the Ensemble Spatium Musicum and had concerts a. a. in Chicago and New York's Carnegie Hall .

In 1989 Kubelka realized the invisible cinema in Vienna in the Austrian Film Museum and conceived the cyclical program Was ist Film , which has been shown every Tuesday in the Film Museum since 1996.

Peter Kubelka is the brother of the writer Susanna Kubelka . Kubelka was married to the painter Gertie Fröhlich and has a daughter with her, Marieli Fröhlich .

In 2014 the Austrian Film Museum released Martina Kudláček's documentary Fragments of Kubelka on DVD.


Kubelka's films are highly compressed works between one and 10 minutes long. They stand in the tradition of Dsiga Wertow , as well as the avant-garde film of the 1920s: Walter Ruttmann , Viking Eggeling ( Symphonie diagonale ), Hans Richter , Man Ray , Fernand Léger and Marcel Duchamp defined the medium as an independent art genre and rejected rudiments from the “old arts “From.

The best-known was the film Our Africa Trip from 1966. Here the image and sound are worked in a similar way to Wertow's “Enthusiasm” (of which there is a version restored by Kubelka). Images and sounds are not recorded at the same time in order to achieve a naturalistic impression, but rather linked to one another in an associative manner. A rifle shot that sounds is not necessarily shown with such an image. Kubelka assumes that the sound alone is enough to make you think “rifle shot”. In the specific example, one sees a hat flying off a tourist's head, another time a fish that is being caught out of the water. Particularly impressive is the scene in which a close-up butterfly moves completely in sync with Austrian folk music.

In addition to the film, cooking plays a central role in Kubelka's work. He is the first to have explicitly taught cooking as an art at an art college (the Frankfurt Städelschule). For him, cooking is the oldest visual art of all.

Metric film series

Kubelka's “metric” films form a basis for the structural film that led to a worldwide movement in the cinematic avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s. During his creative period, Peter Kubelka produced three films (Adebar, Schwechater and Arnulf Rainer), which are known under the term metrics. Basically the concept of the metric system comes from music. It is about individual units, as in music, for example, note symbols represent different counting units (half, quarter, etc. note). In contrast to this, in the film a single shot is understood as time units. A shot, in turn, consists of several cadres, with 24 cadres representing one second in the film.

In Kubelka's metric films, the film frame is actually used as a unit of time. He goes into the music intensively by adapting the cadre to the music and thus creating a metric system.


Kubelka's first metric film is “Adebar” (1957), with which the Viennese formal film also began. In these films, the form is always more important than the content and usually a systematic, regular procedure with precise structures emerges. In Adebar, Kubelka is particularly concerned with sound. He finds a strict system of rules made up of 26 cadres that repeat themselves over and over again as a loop and determine the length of the individual settings. The number 26 is divided by him as well as doubled, resulting in film settings consisting of 13, 26, or 52 cadres.

The basic material in the film are eight moving shots of dancing couples, which are used both as positive and negative to the same extent. Thus, every cm² of the screen receives exactly the same amount of light or quality of light.

The film itself would have been conceived as a promotional film for the “Adebar” bar, but it was not used as such. The content of the film are silhouettes of dancing couples who touch on the one hand and separate on the other. It is therefore about movements that want to touch, but at the same time cannot. So the content of the film is minimalist throughout. The film is about dance silhouettes, which are shown in three different phases: in the starting, developing and ending pose. In order to be able to achieve still images, Kubelka copied the starting pose 26 times. Thus, the film gets the actual impression of movement, primarily through the difference between still and moving images.


Exhibitions (current selection)

  • 2004: International Festival of New Film and New Media, Split (Croatia)
  • 2005: Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Touching
  • 2005: ZKM, Karlsruhe, light art from artificial light
  • 2005: MAMCS Strasbourg, L'ŒIL MOTEUR (Motorauge)
  • 2006: Kunsthaus Zürich, The Expanded Eye
  • 2008: Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Notation: Calculus and Form in the Arts
  • 2013: Split Film Festival, Croatia
  • 2017: Center Pompidou, Paris, Hommage á Peter Kubelka: Monument Film ,


  • Mosaic In Confidence (1955) (with Ferry Radax )
  • Adebar (1957)
  • Schwechater (1958)
  • Arnulf Rainer (1960)
  • Tesa (1964) (Commercial Series)
  • Our trip to Africa (1966)
  • Break! (1977)
  • Poetry and Truth (2003)
  • Antiphon (2012)


  • Gabriele Jutz, Peter Tscherkassky, Peter Kubelka , Vienna: PVS, 1995
  • Tina M. Stadler, Peter Zach: Interview with Peter Kubelka . In: Blimp, Zeitschrift für Film No. 7, p. 4 ff., Graz 1987
  • Peter Tscherkassky: Film-Bier - On Peter Kubelka's commercial 'Schwechater' . In: Blimp, Zeitschrift für Film No. 7, p. 12 ff., Graz 1987
  • Stefan Grissemann, Alexander Horwath, Regina Schlagnitweit (eds.): What is film. Peter Kubelka's cyclical programs in the Austrian Film Museum , FilmmuseumSynemaPublications Volume 14, Vienna: SYNEMA - Society for Film and Media, 2010, ISBN 978-3-901644-36-8
  • Eszter Condor: Break up. The founding of the Austrian Film Museum , Vienna: Synema 2014 [FilmmuseumSynemaPublications Volume 20]
  • Alexander Horwath (Ed.): The visible cinema. Fifty Years of the Filmmuseum: Texts, Images, Documents , Vienna: Synema 2014 [FilmmuseumSynemaPublications Volume 21]

Individual evidence

  1. frame the state of the art 20, summer 07, Servus Austria, pp. 194–196
  2. Eszter Condor: Break up. The founding of the Austrian Film Museum, Vienna: Synema 2014, p. 46ff.
  3. ^ History of the Austrian Film Museum: Peter Kubelka
  4. The Invisible Cinema in the Filmmuseum
  5. Publication Was ist Film
  6. ^ Cyclical programs in the Austrian Film Museum
  7. ^ DVD Fragments of Kubelka
  8. Peter Kubelka: Restoring Ėntuziazm
  9. Peter Tscherkassky "The reconstructed cinematography" - On the film avant-garde in Austria (PDF; 138 kB)
  10. Peter KUBELKA: The theory of the metric film (1978). In: Gabriele Jutz, Peter Tscherkassky (eds.): Peter Kubelka. Vienna: PVS 1995, pp. 46-67.
  12. ^ Peter Kubelka in the Vienna History Wiki of the City of Vienna
  13. City Hall correspondence of April 30, 2015
  14. Homage to Peter Kubelka: Monument Film | Center Pompidou . ( [accessed August 10, 2017]).
  15. ^ Viennale 2012: Monument Film

Web links

Commons : Peter Kubelka  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files