issue 1 april 2013

form follows function.
an exploration of modernism and post modernism.

what is modernism?

new graphic design: issue 1 april 2013 - form follows function

Modernism is a term used to embrace a diverse range of art movements and ideas that emerged during the first half of the 20th Century and profoundly influenced the subsequent development of art, architecture and design. There was also a widespread utopian belief that mechanization and technology, if properly used, could produce a better less divided


society.The definition of modernism is simply, modern thought and practice. Modernism ranged from as early as the late 19th century and lasted til the late 20th, where post-modernism took over modernist ideals. Some things that influenced modernism were the development of the industrial revolution, the rapid growth of cities and societies, followed by the

horrors of world war I. The modernist movement also marked the emergence of avant-garde art, which was used to describe modernist art until the term “modernism” arose. Avant-garde art is works of art that are experimental, innovative and attempts to push boundaries.

the bold text acting as a key indicator of the Art Nouveau style . prime examples of the work produced in these movements and exemplary artists who helped to shape Modernism at the time. Art Nouveau French for “new art”. Bieres de la Meuse by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha is a prime example of Art Nouveau. was most popular in Europe. Magazines like Jugend helped publicise the style in Germany as a graphic art form.the introduction of text within an image is something that the movement brought into Art & Design. It is a piece of organic design. .3 1890 his tor A timeline of Modernist Art Movements that existed in the 20th century.

and was emphasising themes that were associated with the future or ideologies about the future in those times. the cubist movement attempted to represent three dimensional form. Common ideals depicted in futurist paintings were violence. 1907 Cubism A movement that aimed to create new methods of representation. It is still used as inspiration today. Futurism had it’s dark side. speed. At the time it was a phenomenon. and distorting spacial relationships. 1909 4 . and although some of the paintings were bright and vibrant. By depicting multiple viewpoints. technology and industry. and cubism was the result of this.ory Futurism Originated in taly in 1909. There was a shift in philosophy from realism/romanticism to find new ways of illustration and visualization.

Bauhaus was the most influential design school to have existed in the 20th Century. but anti-art. It was influenced a great deal by psychoanalytical theories. 5 1920 1918 1919 Surrealism Evolved from the Dada movement. It taught crafts and design but was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It’s difference in style inspired artists and designers around the world to approach their way of thinking differently. Richard Huelsenbeck said “Dada is the international expression of our times. and smooth. and from looking at surrealist paintings it is clear to see why. . In his Dada Manifesto.Dada Most famous for it’s assemblage and ready mades. such as those devised by Sigmund Freud. Other techniques in the Dada movement include collage and photomontage. A lot of established artists and writers were against surrealism. It particularly referenced his ideas about dreams and the unconscious.” It was seen as not art. the great rebellion of artistic movements. as it went against traditional art forms and displayed “Anti-social” attitudes. slim forms. Bauhaus design is typically highlights straight edges.

transparency and extention become visual motifs. fresh start at the end of the horrors of world war I. space. The school intended to represent a new. Abstract ideals of texture. in all areas of the arts. their work has been influential throughout europe and the United States for many years. 6 . form. volume.Amongst the Bauhaus staff and students were some of the leading pioneers of modernism. colour. They extended the thinking of leading figures in creative arts.

Neo-Plasticism 1917 .1931 7 .

It’s composition consisted of white ground. a journal of the De Stijl Group. upon which was painted a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and three primary colours. Mondrian notably founded De Stijl (The Style). yet very minimalistic. for which he used the term neoplasticism.Neo-Plasticism was a very obscure type of art. 8 . in which he published his first essays defining his theory.

He designed many posters and exhibitions for the soviet union. typographer.e Lissitzky is a Russian painter. His work and ideas shown here contributed very much to the suprematist and constructivist movements of the early twentieth century. He created a series of images which h he entitled “Prouns” which were said to be the interchange point between painting and architecture. The use of line in the work is also very prominent. architect and designer. The paintings are evidentally very construction based and geometric focused. L 9 .

Ad Reinhardt was an american writer and painter. renowned for his abstract style paintings and minimalist approach to art. The hard edge forms of these works represent his keenness for abstract expressionism. although I would argue that some of his paintings can appear quite complex in comparison to other minimalist artists. ad reinhardt 10 . and the geometric elements dominated by grid structures and variations of colour. His paintings are solid toned composites of vibrant geometric shapes and collage. Most of his pieces consisted of circular and rectangular composed on small cut out paper collages.

armin hofmann 11 van .

Yet it is difficult. he has few the best. a daredevil equals. Techniques included in his “As a human being he is simple and unassuming. design choice. he ranks among driver. He contributed largely to it into what it has bedome nowadays. His modernism graphics and helped to shape style is bold. His style of design prioritized spent a large portion of his career designing communication above any other factor and work were often photomontage. experimental composition and of course the heavily used sans serif fonts.” – Paul Rand 12 . He posters . He is a rare bird. As a practitioner. and a guru. a teacher par excellence. really. typesetting. a mountain climber. Hofmann believed that poster design was the most efficient and effective form of graphic communication.Hofmann is described as one of the most influential personalities in Swiss graphic design history. he strongly uses sans serif type and limited colour schemes to create minimalistic but impactive design. clean and asymmetric in parts. As a teacher. to pin him down.

I personally think that the posters create a sense of ambiguity and evoke curiosity within those who see it. He emphasizes the subjects in his designs with the intention of reducing them to their essential elements. the public eye. and a specific use of colour and typeface. was primarily seeking a new way to communicate visually with the ever growing society and the complex technological advances.13 His designs always have a particular structure within them. for example the large grainy photo of the face and hands. . but to exist within our society . As a modernist artist he belonged to a period of time that. the streets. in terms of design. He believed that his posters were not intended to be included in museums or gallery exhibitions.


revolutionary wartime propaganda – as this had a major impact on design in the 20th century. and Mid-Century Modern Artists. Each designer’s section begins with an overview of the designer’s life. The book showcases their work in a way that indicates their strong set of principles about how they design and what contributes to their function. 2004) 15 This book is a perfect retrospective of designers and design movements from the 20th century. It offers an insightful look at visual communication as a complex part of 20th century history. typeface creations and depending on the artist . Within the book there is a complete balance between visual and written information. and how it intended on impacting on the design scene through maximum expression with minimum means. The book is split into various sections including Design Experimentation. Anyone who is curious about modernist and post-modernist design will find themselves greatly inspired by this publication. Aynsley reviews and documents the work of post-modern pioneers such as Muriel Cooper. Late Modern and PostModern Artists. and gives prolific information on some of the most important figures in the development of modern visual r Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design: A Complete History (Aynsley. this includes innovative poster designs. Dan Friedman and Jamie Reid – artists that were strictly functional in the area of graphic design and determined to make their voices heard effectively. Jeremy. The ‘Mid-century Modern’ section documents the work of around 30 designers or types of design that extended the boundaries of graphic design in the mid 20th century by devising new approaches to marketing and advertising. These . followed by discussions and visual examples of their major influences and published works. It focuses on areas of significant artistic collectives such as the Bauhaus school. looking at artists from both modernist and post-modernist movements.

interesting and inspiring whilst being informative and creative in its approach. Design is referenced from the most influential designers worldwide. In my opinion. as it contains relevant information in easy to devise sections on modernism and postmodernism. and innovators of digital technology such as Muriel Cooper. its influence felt everywhere ranging from the poster to the web page. from initial leaders of the field including Max Bill to David Carson. the book is one of the most useful publications to be produced on modern graphic design. The book also mentions the studios and movements that had key responsibilities in the expansion of modern graphic design history. managed to break free from modernist tradition. Features on the key design schools such as the Bauhaus and the Cranbrook Academy of Art make this publication useful. The type of design involved includes early film posters. as a result. punk rock record covers and the groundbreaking magazine covers of the 80s and masters of design embraced both print and digital media as an artistic means of assigning ideas and information and. The main theme of the book is how graphic designers played a fundamental position in contemporary society. 16 .

these include bricolage (something constructed out of whatever materials are available). collage. Embracing art. the use of typography prominently as the central artistic element. symbolism and visual wit. There are several characteristics which apply to art that is postmodern. It reestablished interest in ornament. post-modern designers rejected modernism’s obsession with progress and challenged the fundamental tenets of order and discipline espoused by the Bauhaus. 17 . and there is a decline of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and pop culture.graphic design & Post Modernism is a design movement that evolved in the mid 60’s as a critical response to the dominance and perceived sterility of Modernism. simplification. architecture and design. Past styles and themes are often re appropriated in a modern-day attempt. Unconstrained by dogma.

the post-modern 18 .

They typically used bold.. vibrant colours. The movement aimed to communicate through user-friendly platforms such as posters.The term international style refers to a type of design that bases its approach on legibility and simplicity of layout. The movement became extremely popular through successful work of Swiss designers in the early 1920’s but became an international style of art increasingly after the 1950’s due to it being reproduced all over the world. The works produced by the movement have a very well defined and specific structure. heavy sans serif fonts and often include some aspect of geometry. and because of this they had to put major consideration into their content so that it delivered the message they intended to put across. stamps and street signs. international swiss style 19 . Their minimalistic methods were about minimalizing the unecessary.


or the depiction of views of a particular artist or Art movement. A good manifesto will help people to appreciate your art. It is not instructions on what to think or how to feel. A manifesto should provide the answers to the following questions: Why do you make your Art? What inspires you to make it? What does it signify or represent? What does it mean to you? I researched into three manifestos and analyzed three particular ones that I found interesting . more a statement to communicate the answers to people’s questions that come into contact with your art and are curious.The Suprematist Manifesto by Kazimir 21 .THE ART OF THE MANIFESTO What is a Manifesto? Definition – A public declaration of motives and aims.

The Conditional Design Manifesto (a modern day manifesto) and the Founding and Manifesto of Futurism by Marinetti. He adopted the term Suprematism for his non-objective style paintings. entitled Suprematism Manifesto. expressive shapes. Malevich is one of the most renowned geometric abstract painters of the 20th century.” If we consider how Malevich’s paintings are limited to simple primary colour schemes and an assortment of geometric shapes. It is true that Malevich was interested in aviation (the design of aircraft) and fascinated with aerial view photography. His conceptual approach leads us to see a mass of vibrant. He defines Suprematism as a way of expressing. an emotionally dominated style that detracts from all other artist deliberations. If we look at paintings done by Malevich such as the Suprematist Composition (1916).Malevich. When Social Realism became policy. I believe that there is some objective representation in his work. This being said. the appropriate means of representation is always the one which gives fullest possible expression to feeling as such and which ignores the familiar appearance of objects. it is clear to see why he claimed to have reached the height of abstract art through method of rejecting objective representation. Malevich maintained his conceptual approach. he talks about the “supremacy” of pure feeling in creative art. “To the Suprematist. there is a definite resemblance between this painting and 22 . through art. The Suprematist movement arose at a time when Russia was in a revolutionary condition. and the heads of state started to limit artistic freedom. but to his expressive eye it means something entirely different .something significant. In his manifesto. which to us may seem in disarray.

23 .

Malevich summed up the rules of Suprematism in this manifesto. Paintings of subjects can induce surges of aerial view of an industrial area with different buildings intercepting. I found this manifesto quite interesting. which has produced new forms and form relationships by giving external expression to pictorial feeling. However I do believe that some of his Suprematist paintings are devoid of reality. created the first Suprematist Architectural project. I cannot see how other such paintings that represent real life cannot evoke feelings. because although he justifies the Suprematist movement he also talks about his aims and aspirations. Although I do admire Malevich’s work. because Malevich was a Cubist painter before becoming the founder of Suprematism. so to disregard his previous work is quite profound. Only principal forms such as Malevich’s paintings can produce feelings. In 1926. or impart memories. painting. . it gives indication to what his aspirations are. which gives the manifesto a more personal element.e. he was able to depict images that were of no relation to reality at all. a Russian artist and architect belonging to the Avant-garde movement. There is no particular theme in these works. and other shapes dotted around the composition. Malevich also painted portraits “The new art of Suprematism. Cubism was very much influenced by nature.” This prediction is certainly an interesting one. i. concepts. Malevich simply talks of how it reflects “the pure feeling of creative art” and the means of materializing these feelings through a realistic method. by stating that one cannot use art to produce feelings if the art is based on something that exists in real life. Lazar Khidekel. such as The Reaper on Red (1913) before establishing Suprematism. The minimalist approaches of the paintings do not suggest reality in any obvious manner. will become a new architecture: it will transfer these forms from the surface of canvas to space. such as Black Square (1915) and White On White (1918). but once evolving into a Suprematist. although Malevich states that it will happen. “Everything which determined the objective ideal structure of life and of “art’ ideas. and many other subjective paintings. I myself disagree with this statement. and images all this the artist has cast aside in order to heed pure feeling.” This quote I find particularly interesting. Malevich ends his manifesto by saying how Suprematism has opened up new possibilities to create art. This shows that Malevich’s ambitions of Suprematism moving forms became reality. it could inspire or confuse.

whereas Malevich’s Suprematist Manifesto was more profound and. our lives are increasingly characterized by speed and constant change. and we want our work to reflect the here and now.Conditional Design – A Manifesto for Artists and Designers (2008) I wanted to analyze manifesto that was completely different to the initial one. “Through the influence of the media and technology on our world. . but now the interests are branded by the continuous flux of technological advances.” This introduction I find really interesting because it depicts an entirely different context to that of 1920s Russia when the Suprematist Manifesto was written. They have been collaborating together on projects since 2008. where the Artist’s concerns were expression and feeling represented within paintings. and the speed of which data travels influences design today. Instead of romanticizing the past. The collective shows their contemporary values when stating their aim for their work to reflect the here and now. We live in a dynamic. The manifesto begins with a short paragraph explaining how media and technology. datadriven society that is continually sparking new forms of human interaction and social contexts. we want to adapt our way of working to coincide with these developments. this manifesto being contemporary and personal to the people involved in it. Conditional Design is a Design collective based in Amsterdam which consists of four designers. deliver insight into it and show both its beauty and its shortcomings. We want to embrace the complexity of this landscape.

whereas Conditional Design’s work corresponds more with technique.“Our work focuses on processes rather than products: things that adapt to their environment. 26 . This also contrasts with Malevich’s ideas in his manifesto. emphasize change and show difference. Media Art or Sound Design. Malevich’s work is much more dedicated to the meaning behind the imagery. although his aims and intentions were very different. “Instead of operating under the terms of Graphic Design. we want to introduce Conditional Design as a term that refers to our approach rather than our chosen media. where he is greatly concerned with the style and how the shapes appear in his work and how they represent expression. inventors and mystics. Interaction Design. he himself tried to integrate a new form of art (Suprematism) into society. The visual appearance of the design does not matter as much to them as the innovative procedure used to make the design. We conduct our activities using the methods of philosophers. which consists of approach rather than material. Instead of focusing on the outcome of their designs.” I find this particular section of their manifesto fascinating because here they have mentioned how they introduced Conditional Design as a type of art. engineers. they put more into how they process the design. This almost parallels with what Malevich did in his manifesto.” This statement goes against the idea of “style over substance” that French philosopher Baudrillard argued defines our society today.

27 .

declarative. I am for a design that give me entirely new experiences. I am for a design that informs a new way of thinking. the laying out of goals. I am for a design that improves people’s way of seeing. I am for a design that will give me the oppurtunity to travel. we researched into some of the things that define a manifesto as a way of improving ours. After analyzing various manifestos and creating my own. allusiveness.” 28 . I am for a design that will inspire. individuality. suggestions. output.Having looked at some manifestos. why’s and wherefores. it includes how I work and my aims that I wish to achieve through my work. philosophy. ideologies. “I am for a design that allows me to be as creative as possible. Elements that are required in a manifesto are a statement of intent. ideals. setting out what wants to be achieved. opinions. ethos and characteristic of culture. We then listened to the manifesto ‘I am for an art’ written by Claes Oldenberg and went on to write our own shorter version. beliefs. I included ten aspirations in mine. how you engage with the world. I am for a design that will prepare me for the working world. I am for a design that will communicate innovative ideas. I have now written my own. inspiration. I am for a design that will teach me new things. inspired by the work of Oldenberg. motives. rules and what rules are aspired to. I am for a design that will give me a sense of pride. artistic context.

new graphic design issue 1 april 2013 .

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