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History of Graphic Design Timeline – Austin Northcutt

Graphic Art: based on drawing as opposed to painting, is parallel to fine art.  it is more linear, and includes printmaking techniques.  Design is the orderly arrangement of shapes and the composition into a unified whole.

Graphic Design: (Commercial Art) is a discipline of this century – with chemical pigments, computers, cameras, movie cameras, photocopying, montage – the using of mechanical aids.  It is the use of art commercially, with a clear way of communication – ‘What you see is what you get!’ – with no doubt as to the message.  It is closely linked with advertising.

William Morris was the founder of Graphic Art, bringing function together with aesthetics.  Between the Wars, the Bauhaas School was formed, to bring art and industry together, to show the importance of functional design.  The students learned the skills of both art and industry, e.g. to give aesthetics to chairs.  In 1936, before WWII, it disbanded in Germany to go to the safety of Switzerland and the U.S.A.

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Art and Craft of Printing – William Morris

Graphic Art is information conveyed without a doubt.  It is involved with 2D imagery, and includes film, posters, billboards, magazines, photos – in fact any still image on a 2D surface.  It is a 2D media.  Graphic Art is the visual media of advertising, highly dependent on the illustration or image and lettering or typography, e.g. a cartoon is Graphic Art, as graphic illustration is usually narrative.  Sometimes they need words as well as images to help put across the message.

16th Century book designers were the first real Graphic artists.  With the onset of literacy for the populace books were needed, and scribes produced these, not merely pages of words, but aesthetically pleasing pages.  The development of the printing press was a further jump – placing words on the pages with borders, taking care of the shapes of the letters.

The two major areas of Graphic Art are illustration and typography.

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White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland – illustrated by John Tenniel

Illustration: is not so much the technique, but the intentions – often linear, painted descriptively, and/or narratively.  It is when picture images are used for conveying specific information – Norman Rockwell illustrated the covers of the Saturday Post.  Methods used include painting, drawing, computer graphics, photos, or film, and can be kinetic – all to create art in the commercial sense.

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Saturday Evening Post covers -Norman Rockwell 

It used to be used to illustrate the written word, e.g. Egyptian entombing pictures, Greek pictures of healing herbs.  Romans illustrated aquaducts and architecture with perfect perspective, yet their frescos and mosaics didn’t use it.  In the Middle Ages, prayer books (psalters) were illustrated with informative images.  Leonardo drew pictures (of helicopters) where no words were available.  Early illustration used woodblock prints (Durer), then on to etching and printmaking.  In the 17th Century the Japanese produced multi-coloured woodcuts, which were adapted by the French Impressionists in the 19th Century.

The 20th Century Graphic artists made use of cameras, films, videos, lithography, compasses, rulers, photocopiers, and computers to help with the clarity of the detail.  They also had the availability of chemically produced pigments such as Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Red.  Each page has a visual impact of its own, but is allied to the page beside it.

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Chinese Characters with Pictures

Lettering:  In the Dark Ages hand printing or copying was done by monks.  In the 20th Century, between the Wars, there was more awareness of typography, of the quality of the words and letters themselves – e.g. curvilinear letters and style for love letters, typed letters for complaints, scribbled letters for shopping lists.  The quality of the written letters imparts feelings.  The Japanese and Chinese created their characters of calligraphy to have a quality of visual as well as for meaning.  Oriental calligraphic idiograms are called Characters: Egyptians calligraphic idiograms are called Glyphs.  The visual aspect of letters imparts a content – varying widths, spacing, curvilinear or rectilinear are all taken into account.  The letters are seen as shapes to be used as an artistic element in the design.  The art element of letters is manipulated when words are created visually.

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NewModern Typeface Design – Sawdust

Jud House  17/10/2016

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The Futurists were all concerned with movement in art – real or implied. The 20th Century was seen as highly mobile, socially, on every level – activity, noise, vibrations in life.  Manifestos were written 1909 and 1912 for Futurism, which closed in about 1920.  Futurism is strongly related to Cubism and Divisionalism, and to the use of the camera.

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Blue Dancer – Severini – 1912

It started in Italy in the cities of Milan and Turin, which were highly individualised in the turn of the century.  There was an artistic revolt against the static nature of  art – hung on a wall, stood on a pedestal.  They wanted to replace that immobility with a reference to the movement and mechanism of their industrial cities.

They were very expressive, with an effort to be modern.  They wished to show the beauty of movement, of speed, the excitement in crowds, trains rolling and puffing steam, generating vibrations of movement and excitement.  They wished to show the beauty of  the labour of men, plus the pleasure of the sense of rebellion, and the joy about the various revolutions going on in Art.

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The Cyclist – Natalia Goncharova – 1913

Futurism was an attempt to bring art to the machine age, trying to express artistically man’s movement through time and space, and the mechanics of the age.  They were influenced by Seurat and Divisionalism.  They saw the inter-relation and inter-reaction of planes of volume, of light and colour, of different view-points (the influence of Cubism), plus were influenced by the camera, the cinema, movies made by quickly flickering still photos.  They superimposed shapes one over the other – Duchamp’s NUDE DESCENDING A STAIRCASE (movement through time and space).

Gino Severini was strongly influenced by Cubist theories.  He created movement with the colour.  The Futurists emphasised lines of force to create a sense of after-image.  Giacomo Balla depicted speed itself – he was interested in the movement of the dog, rather than the image of the dog. Umberto Boccioni talked about modernism, but his works were based on traditional means.

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Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash – Balla

They called themselves Futurists because they wanted to create art for the future – man’s transience in nature, importance of machinery in man’s life – to become more animated, more automotive.  Some of their subjects were: cars, trains, busy streets, bicycles, automobiles, a cascade of people.  Their titles usually included words like: speed, force, dynamism – to express the idea of movement itself.  Futurists influenced others in their era, with an ideal to represent movement in art.

OPTICAL ART – KINETIC ART – was that which really produced movement in art, particularly in sculpture (Calder’s mobiles).  It was art in motion, created with very modern materials: plastics, strobe-lights, machinery (whizz, pop, bang), and used sound and music.  Their purpose was to produce an unlimited variation of pattern, and to produce an active response from the spectator.  They definitely brought movement into art.  (Brancusi’s FISH was a motorised sculpture on a pedestal).

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The White Face – Calder – painted sheet metal, rod, wire.

Alexander Calder: an American, put his emphasis on mass, on movement in space, and airy light shapes. He created space, time and movement with his mobiles – Duchamp gave them the name, mobiles, Calder had called them Space-cages.  He was an engineer and a blacksmith, and introduced sculpture that actually moved, via air currents, hand-cranking, or electrification.  He was aware of welding techniques.

His shapes were often abstract, geometric, influenced by Miro, Arp, and Mondrian.  From Mondrian he got the primary colours, from Arp the use of organic shapes, and from Miro the use of the surreal and whimsical.  He used modern materials such as sheet metal, wire, and created special realms of fantasy and play, which we unique to humans.  His work was considered Kinetic – it really  moves (actual movement).

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Eagle (Seattle) – Calder

Optical Art appears to move – is implied or simulated movement, based on the perception of the viewer.  It gives the illusion of movement while the painting is actually static.  Op Art continued the research of the Impressionists into light and colour.  It leaves the world of nature to go into non-representational imagery.  It is based on the unique manipulation of perspective and colour relationships.  They wanted to explore the possibility of human perception, of looking at the psychological response to colour (Seurat and Kandinsky), and reactions to linear configurations (Seurat and Mondrian).  They wanted to extend the visual sensations of sight and how we see things move.  Op Art is Formal rather than expressive.

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Painting – Calder – Screenprint

Victor Vasarely:  was Hungarian, who activates the paintingg surface by meticulous manipulation of colour and shape in a Formal and technically expert way.  He used geometric shapes, tonal balance, contrastinb colours, creating ambiguous directions in his work.  He was considered the originator of OP ART.  He created the illusions of tensions – animated stillness.

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OP ART – Vasarely – Sign sculpture (Hungary)

Jacob (Yaakov) Agam:   developed art which the spectator had to move around, to shift their viewpoints, to create a continual change (virtual movement by viewer).

Bridget Riley:  was British and the sensation of the 60’s.  She analysed Pointillism, bent-line perspective, positive force, violent turbulence, and the illusions created by these.  She worked out the designs on small pieces of paper, then when it worked she transferred the design onto the large canvas, and her assistants painted it with her carefully mixed colours.

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Dizengoff Square Fountain – Agam;  Bridget Riley in front of her work 1968

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Jud House   6/10/2016

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SURREALISM – 1924 ->

This is still practiced today by contemporary artists by replicating real nature to get unrealistic impact.  They aimed to allow the imagination to come forward through work.  It causes the viewer to be active, by sending them in different directions in the same work.

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The Sun Sets Sail – Rob Gonsalves

Artistically, Surrealism is pure psychic automatism through which the real function of thought is expressed.  It is a level of reality which isn’t tangible, but is still real.  Dreams, imaginings, thought processes are real though you can’t touch them.

It promotes the idea of chance painting, automatic drawing, expressing the real function of thought – completely uncontrolled expression of thought, independent of moral or aesthetic limitations.  There are no longer worries about rules, or whether it’s artistic – it is a whole new level of reality, a new plane of artistic existence for the artists – unencumbered by reason.  Cubist, Impressionist, Fauvist and even Neo-Plasticist artists were all heading in this direction – freedom from rules.

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1949(?) – Memory of a Journey – Magritte – 1955

Surrealism is a direct descendant from Dada – grew out of Dada.  They attempted to establish a new approach to art and life – chances didn’t have to be ignored, psychic coincidences, mental states, and dreams were all part of life.  They used the incorrect logic of the mad-man.  Childhood realities were investigated, as were dreams – they also experimented with these things – the unreal sense of the dream landscape.

The Surrealists recognised that  subconscious thought patterns were very real.  Metaphysical levels were investigated – Gods, etc were on different planes – there was a reality beyond the five senses – and different dimensions.  They were aware of SciFi beliefs and metaphysics – the scientific side of SciFi.  There was also Freud’s psychoanalysis of people’s psyche.  (Body language nowadays).  It opened up new realms, new interpretations of new realities, of the inner world and our inner selves.

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House Angel (Triumph of Surrealism) – Max Ernst

Surrealism appears to be the artistic visual interpretation of subconscious – we look at the artist’s imagination, emotions, thought patterns – automatic drawing.  Surrealism could be drug or alcohol induced, but not necessarily.  The Surrealists wanted to shock and broaden the public’s mind.  Fantasy is make believe – Surrealism is very believable, touching on realities.

Influenced by Kandinsky’s loss of image, development of abstraction freed the artist from needing image as Cubism freed them from a 3D image, Dada from specific standards, and Futurists from the sense of immobility.  The artists had all the traditional academic rules broken, and were completely free to work on their art in whatever style they chose, and to use artistic elements in their own way.  The artist dictated the rules.

Surrealism took two avenues – highly Abstract, and Figurative with startling clarity.

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The Disquieting Muse – De Chirico – Geometric comp. with factory landscape

Giorgio De Chirico:  was the founder of Surrealism, was a strong inspiration to Tanguy and Magritte, and produced both Figurative and Abstract Surrealistic works.  He used strong perspective, chiaroscuro modelled gently with values, rigid architecture, unexpected objects clashing to create troubled atmosphere.  Everything within his works was ever so slightly off, with metaphysical interiors symbolising the inner labyrinth of man.  He usually had trains somewhere in his paintings.  After the 1930’s he reverted to academic paintings.

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This is not a pipe – Magritte – The Philosopher’s Lamp

Rene Magritte:  painted Figuratively with conscious procedure, rather than by chance, with juxtaposition of everyday objects – subjects that stir uneasy feelings.  His titles reinforce his message.  He explored words as visual stimuli for paintings, he used words as symbols – “This is not a pipe”.  He used them arbitrarily.

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Indefined Divisibility – Tanguy – Melt

Yves Tanguy:  saw the realities of the intuitive world, Abstract Surrealism. He used traditional means to express feelings of anxiety and unease (traced back to Munch) – Surrealism personified.  It unnerved and attracted the viewer.  he used spectral forms occupying real space – spacial recession with unreal occupants.

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Carnival of Harlequin – Miro – Woman with Birds

Joan Miro:  used a mixture of Abstract, Dada and Surrealism.  He often worked in collage, he simplified shapes to mere curvilinear suggestions – organic and geometric shapes, using bright primary colours and black.  He created spontaneous works with the brush leading the hand instead of the other way around.  He appreciated the philosophy of the Surrealists, while creating works that were very simple, naive, and sincere.

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Melting Watch – Dali

Salvador Dali:  was an ideal Surrealist – his whole lifestyle was Surreal.  He produced sets for theatres, movies, a 3D Art Room, paintings – he took Surrealism into everything, and was interested in Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysics.  His early works were traditional and skillful, realistic techniques, replicating nature – works relating to the natural world.  He began working with elements of form to create works that were startling. He was influenced by Leonardo, producing works from clouds, etc.  He produced a visual association between unrelated objects.  He was considered a Figurative Surrealist.  Some of his shapes transmute from the real to the unreal, he creates frenzied patterns or minute correct detail, with an ideal sense of space.  he was an excellent draftsman, and showmanship was part of his art.

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Galatea of the spheres – Dali – 1952

NB:  If you choose to quote from this blog please cite its URL in your Bibliography.

Jud House  5/10/2016

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DADA 1915 – 1922

Dada artworks invite misunderstanding, and evoke questions from the viewer.

An anti-art, anti-everything movement, was founded in Switzerland by a group of French and German artists who wanted to divorce themselves from the artistic era they were in.  They had a sense of humour, and looked for the ridiculous in works.  It had links with Cubism and Expressionism, with Surrealism and Abstraction (re Jackson Pollock).  It appeared simultaneously in Europe (Spain and Germany) and New York as a protest movement against World War I, and against the accepted cultural traditions, morals, and values that would permit a war.  They were artistically protesting against ideas of beauty and formality, and against galleries and art critics dictating what was acceptable in art, and against art which appeared to be turning its back on reality.

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Assemblage – Schwitters – 1920

The world was crazy and mad in 1915 – 16.  Current standards had to be returned.  The rational world had to be shown rationally.  The Cubists and Impressionists did it pictorially; Dada did it mentally – they gave a marvellous freedom, showed that you can have fun with art, that it can be silly.  Dada had a purpose, a goal to rethink the role of art and artists in society – to invite misunderstanding, to evoke questions from the viewer.  Dadaists tried to review standards held by non-artists, and to tear down the 19th century ideals of art, and replace them  with 20th Century ideals.  They also wanted to re-admit emotions and expression into art, to permit creative intuition to take precedence over formal theories, allowing the artist to express himself unencumbered by rules – to be highly expressive.

The artistic selection was up to the artist – he could paint what he wanted and how he wanted, with arbitrary colours, distortions, etc.  The Dadaists took it a bit too far.  Duchamp said “I am an artist.  I choose it. Therefore it is art.”  Dada is a joke, but allows for the artist to select for himself.  Dada also allows for subconscious directions, for chance shapes to create the line – for subconscious development of chance shapes (by dropping a piece of string and noting the shape it makes when it lands) – perception development.

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LHOOQ – Duchamp

Dada was famous for its jests (jokes) – like Mona Lisa with a beard and moustache titled LHOOQ.  Also Readymades – something exists and using it as a sculpture (bicycle wheel on a stool) makes it art.  Corrected Readymades – created chance compositions from shapes in a cloud.  They created manifestos.  The Dadaists were outrageous and bizarre, responding to any cultural medium.  The art of no taste, the art of the con.

Dada was a forerunner of Surrealism and Op Art, and the happenings in the 1960s.  It was in painting, sculpture, theatre, music, and literature.  It did not reflect good taste, rather a total lack of taste.  It was an artistic tantrum, but it had positive effects.  It re-established spontaneity and intuition; it re-affirmed expression and imagination together; it drew attention to the silliness of the times, and to the morbidity.  It helped to artistically redefine standards in art, and allowed the artists to dictate their own standards.  it was artistic freedom to the maximum.

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Fountain – R Mutt – 1917

Kurt Schwitters: created collages from trash found in gutters – used artistic selection creating an awareness of shapes, textural interest and design sense in his works.  He was never anti-art, always appreciated visual image, and returned to geometric abstraction in his later works.

Marcel Duchamp:  was the leader of the movement, and raised provocative questions in art.  He was French, and originally a Futurist, who worked tongue-in-cheek to shake up the elitists in the art world.  he influenced the Surrealists, who tried to create works of art from the artists’ internal ideas.  He gave artistic freedom to the limits, and crossed boundaries of traditions, saying they didn’t exist.

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Abstract Composition – Arp

Hans Arp:  did works of collage, relief works, and sculpture.  He experiments with the laws of chance – he wished to produce visual images over which he had no control.  He made use of random composition, including the rejection and selection of its happy accidents.  Sculptures evolved from within themselves, as form evolved from form, with the final sculpture from a part of the first.

Max Ernst:  was influenced by medieval artists, Bosch and Grunwald, and by his contemporaries, Picasso, Klee and Dali.  His works were seen as a bridge between Dada and Surrealism.  He was interested in chance – frottage, rubbings, gottage; decalcomania – the point between two surfaces then finding an image in the result.  Also he was interested in fantasy.

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Cormorants – Ernst – 1920

If you choose to quote from this blog please cite the URL in your Bibliography.

Jud House  27/09/2016

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Post World War I:

Neo-Plasticism:  De Stijl (The Style) –  Mondrian
Suprematism:  Russian – Malevich
Constructivism:  Maun Gabo, Antoine Pevsner

Formal Art is the production of art in technique and skill rather than as an expressive message, with interest in the formal rather than the personal, religious, or symbolic context.  Formal Art was seen in ancient times, through Greek, Roman, Medieval times using symbols (halo, blue robe, etc) to make it understood by the illiterate viewers.  In Oriental works, art was used for ideology (third eye, many arms, blue face, etc), which created symbolic laws of art.  Formal Art manifests itself as theoretical, tending to be well pre-planned, and well thought out. It’s very objective in its approach to subject matter – it’s more between the artist and his thoughts than to do with the actual subject.  In Visual Art, Classic means classical Greek – well thought out, very proper and correct.  20th Century classic art emboied perfection of aesthetic – that is producing Image as an ideal.

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Evening; Red Tree – Mondrian

FORMAL ABSTRACTION may appear very precise, impersonal, hard edged, non-figurative, often geometric, but mostly devoid of other aesthetics. The artist abbreviates the content, and depends on the control of the elements of form.  The art should be viewed for colour, line, and shape in relationship with the world.  The artists were concerned with actual structure, more than with impact.  This can be traced back to Cezanne, and to Analytical and Synthetic Cubism.

Neo-Plasticism 1912 – De Stijl (The Style)

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Gray Tree – Mondrian – 1911

Piet Mondrian: wanted to produce a new type of beauty.  War was reflected in most art of that time.  He wanted to produce a beauty independent of emotion, that was universal, with no subject matter.  Beauty of the intellect with no individuality.  He was influenced by things beyond the art world.  He came from a Calvanist tradition of simplicity and austerity.  He used economy of line, geometry of laying out towns, dykes, and roads. Very puritanical, austere, and strict, Calvanism shows in the art of the Protestant revolution in their revolt against the opulence of the Catholic church.

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The Apple Tree – Mondrian

So Calvanism had an affect on Mondrian’s art – other influences being a philosophy called Theosophy which dealt with metaphysics and mysticism, and into the nature of God.  The artistic influences were Cubism and the Divisionalism of Seurat, with their new theories of colour, line, ambiguous space, and no subject matter – their independence of art and its elements.  Mondrian used art to communicate with God.

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Pier and Ocean – Mondrian – Composition 1916

He was free as an artist to search for purity in art, regularity of nature in art (e.g. seasons), and for the essence of the relationships of elements (e.g. the meeting of horizontal and vertical lines, and of simple primary colours.)  He created harmony, intensity, and precision by total equilibrium – he wanted to restore balance to a suffering world.  He wanted to create a universal art form to exist for and by itself – to transcend all social, political, and religious boundaries.  The German Expressionists and Cubists were working at this time, and Mondrian felt that they led art astray, and he wanted to bring it back to purity, to a universal aesthetic.  He wrote a magazine on De Stijl, and his designs were used in the Baahaus, and in clothing, architecture and flooring.

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Line over Form – Modrian

Suprematism 1915 – Russia

A couple of years prior to the Russian Revolution chaos ruled the country, with the rural sector sending food to the black market, and with an incompetent government.  Russian art was affected by this turmoil.

Kasimir Malevich was an active revolutionary, whose art was a derivation of Gris’ Cubism.  He concentrated on geometric shapes – triangles, circles, and rectangles.  He was aware of Kandinsky’s work, the German Expressionists and the Parisian art of the time.  Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin sought supreme priority of form – a visual mantra, for visual meditation.  They used a theoretical and technical approach to make it formal going back to basics, removing all superfluous elements, eliminating, and abbreviating.  The result was dynamic art that suggested space and movement, with spacial references created by scale and position, and the movement by diagonal lines.  It was non-figurative abstraction about movement.  Reality in art was the sensational affect of colour – cool white on warm white as a pure abstraction.  Art aiming at non-objectivity by eliminating emotions.

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 Suprematist Composition  1916 – Malevich – White on White  1918

Constructivism – from Suprematism

Vladimir Tatlin didn’t like the idea of producing art outside of life.  He wanted a more functional purpose for art, rather than mere aesthetics.  he wanted to produced useful constructions that had a purpose.  Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner disagreed with the ideals of Suprematism having individual value – art should be for the government and society.  they wrote a manifesto – and their art grew out of Cubist collages, into the assemblage of 3D works, which added to the ideas of interest in space, the concept of time and maths analysis.

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Counter Relief 1914-15 – Tatlin – Monument to the Third International 1919-20

They wanted art to reflect time and space, which they considered essential factors of life.  So they applied industrial engineering and maths concepts to create non-figurative art works from modern materials – nylons, plastics; works with voids giving interior volume of space, which in sculpture was part of the form.  They drew on man-made machines rather than nature as their source, turning to Science rather than intuition.  They had non-emotional concepts as their base – emotions only resulted in wars.  They wanted to reflect the character of industrial society – Socialist Art, for the people.

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Linear Construction in Space No. 3 with Red – Gabo;
Projection in Space – Pevsner

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(C) Jud House  22/09/2016

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The German Expressionists broke up into two groups – The Blue Rider, and The Bridge – which was pre-World War I, though some continued on between the Wars.

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Autumn Study in Oberau – Kandinsky

THE BLUE RIDER – Munich – 1911 – 1914

This was the Abstract group – non-figurative, non-object, non-representational works – with Modernism as its doctrine.  They were not looking at optical reality (like the Impressionists), or at a structural or symbolic reality (like the Post-Impressionists), but were highly interested in colour (like the Fauves).  But here their pursuit of the abstract was through looking for their inner spiritual vision.  They brought about a whole new system of approaching art – one which showed their Germanism.  A philosopher, Hermann Obrist, explained the psychic affects and the power of abstract forms and colour, and followed it through with their affects on people.  Also this was the time of Einstein’s theories, and other scientific discoveries, which also had an affect on the artists.

Some members of the Blue Rider were Kandinsky, Klee, Marc, and Von Jawlensky.  They declared an independence from all boundaries, in order to create an imaginary artistic arena, with a whole new artistic language.  An inner vision onto canvas without relating to nature.  They created a new tradition, made up new rules, pure abstraction as an escape, with art relating to form – not to the real world or nature.

They were influenced by Impressionism, music, folk art, colour, and Medieval icons.  They were aware of cubic ideas of picture space, with the many influences of old, new and contemporary art.  Their works were highly colourful, and they played with colour and its link to music.

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Blue Mountains – Kandinsky – Composition VIII

Wassily Kandinsky, one of the greatest abstract expressionists, was the discoverer of non-figurative abstraction.  He progressed from very real landscapes, to Fauvism, to figurative improvisations (BLUE MOUNTAINS), to non-representative abstraction, and non-geometric abstraction.  He worked with a furious use of line, and a vehement use of colour.  He wrote a detailed theory of colour as it was related to music.

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Tale a la Hoffmann – Klee – Early and Late Years 1894-1940

Paul Klee, who taught at the Baahaus, created works of perspective fantasies, and allegories, with a sense of underlying geometry – very childlike innocent works, joyful, trusting, simplistic, harmonious, spiritual.  He worked in many media – pencil, oil, etching, water colour, gouache, brush and pen, both painting and drawing.  He was influenced by Abstract Expressionists, German Expressionists, Dadaists, and Surrealists.

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Blue Horse – Marc – Pigs

Franz Marc made a symbolic use of animals in his works, also looking at his works through a prism, and painting the resultant break-up of the colours.  He was more in tune with nature than with man.  His gentle and emotional abstractions reflected man, God and nature.  He was affected by Van Gogh’s work, and use of swirling colour.  Nature could be used for expressing his soul, and that symbolic use of colour could further his aim.  His parcels of colour never decorate, and were not arbitrary, but based on a symbolic code – blue is the male principle, severe and spiritual; yellow is the female principle, gentle, cheerful and sensual; and red is matter, brutal and heavy.  This relates to how colour affects us emotionally.

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Portrait of Andreas – Von Jawlensky – Mystical Head

Alexi Von Jawlensky never got into total abstract expressionism.  He began to summarise his paintings – Schematizations.  He was influenced by the Fauves, but reduced images and faces – removing the details.  He was not a ‘member’ of the Blue Rider group.

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Summer in Davos – Kirchner

THE BRIDGE – Dresden – 1906-1913

This was the Figurative group – they wanted to bridge the ideas from the past to the future.  They were very proud of the German origin of their art.  They established a new aesthetic, linking past to present, learning from great artists, transposing from the past to modern media.  They linked academic heritage and traditions to modern art.  They ignored the fact that introspective realism didn’t exist in Medieval art due to a lack of understanding of perspective in those times.  They actually created new symbols in art – a new style.

They were founded by Ernst Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who were influenced by Oriental and primitive art, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and colour in African art.  They looked for symbolic content, expressed personal ideas, also influenced by the Fauves and Impressionists, by Ensor and Munch.  But they wanted to remove the French influence and Cubism from their art – to extol the German in their art.  [I feel that they reflected the mood of their country at that time.]

But these influences show in their work – we can see the expressive use of colour and broad flat areas of colour, distortions, unreal perspective.  The Bridge artists knew how to do these things correctly, but they wanted freedom of expression, with no fixed rules.  It was a paradox.  They bridged everything going on in art throughout Europe.  They liked the idea of symbolism, and were interested in human rather than artistic ideas.  They were social critics showing moralistic reality, by the use of evocative and emotional themes.  They were influenced by the writings of Nietzsche – of the superman or woman with the doctrine of ruthless will to power.

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Female Artist – Kirchner – Street Scene

Ernst Kirchner was the founder of Figurative Expressionism called The Bridge.  He was an architectural student, interested in Graphic Art.  he did many woodblocks.  In his paintings he used the Fauves colour, more in an unreal manner rather than for mood.  He searched for underlying values in what he painted in subject matter.  He used arbitrary colour to get beyond the identification of subject.  He was interested in primitive carvings, Japanese prints, and Medieval stained glass windows.  There is a sense of agitation in his works, angularity of lines, to show the stress in industrial society – a passing of old traditions and morality, an approach to war.  The agitation and violence of his art reflects his era.

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The Burial (oil) – Nolde – Lake Lucerne (watercolour)

Emil Nolde was looking for something under the surface – sought emotional reality behind appearances – bridging the soul of man to life. His works appear to be very violent, with distorted forms, clashing colours, and textural in his oils.  In his watercolours he used mild peaceful themes – reflecting Matisse and Ensor.  He had an instinct for colour.

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Cats (woodcut) – Schmidt-Rottluff – Corner of a Park

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff used simple angular forms, lines, similar to primitive art, with a bold use of colour.  He had a brutal style of line in his woodcuts, and his paintings showed a bold use of primary colours.

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Jud House  16/09/2016

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James Ensor,   Edvard Munch

The idea of individuality in art, brought on by Matisse saying that an artist is responsible for his own feelings and expressing them according to his own rules, together with the influence of Van Gogh and Gauguin, the recognition at the time of the breakdown in social traditions, and the approach of war, caused a strong move towards Expressionism in art in Europe.  In Expressionism its hard to separate art from life, because good art always reflects life.

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The Intrigue – Ensor 1890

Ensor was Belgian – his early works were Impressionistic, with his use of colour and brushstrokes, surface texture, and optical considerations.  His subject matter was grotesque and macabre, yet drawn in happy colours.  This tricks the viewer, who is shocked to find skeletons and skulls in his compositions.  This relates back to the moralisers of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries – like Bosch and Broegel.  Ensor was also a moraliser, suggesting society was a facade over a rotting core.

Munch gave us a personal view based on his unstable life.  He was a critic of modern morality, many of his works depicted negative emotions, and seemed to be extremely violent despite being very controlled.  He took an idea then worked it in different media.

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The Scream  –  Munch  –  Despair

He used very swirling, expressive lines, distorted his images, and employed clashing colours.  He had a cold and harsh palette.  His purpose was to demonstrate moods – anger, jealousy, fear, love, silence, anxiety.   His drawings, lithographs, woodcuts, and paintings all followed this idea.

With these precursors of German Expressionism, James Ensor and Edvard Munch, we see Expressionists who tried to record through non-traditional means their reactions to the world situations.  Ensor and Munch tried to express the negative side of life – corruption, decay, unhappiness, jealousy, etc.

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The Three Judges – Rouault

Georges Rouault bridged the gap between German and French Expressionism.  He combined subject matter and colour to give us depressing images in light-weight colour.  He was not making subtle innuendos, but comments on religious hypocrisy, the judicial system of his era, the lack of morality – he painted a series on prostitutes, judges and Christ.  His techniques was quite heavy, strong outlines, bold brushstrokes, with light-weight washes, and with shocking imagery.  He was himself – not in any category.

There was a definite sense of artistic freedom, sensitivity, and revolutionary purpose in art in the 20th century, with stronger, more obvious, social commentary.  This can be attributed to the Precursors of German Expressionism – James Ensor and Edvard Munch – and also to Georges Rouault.

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Cirque de l’etoile filante – Rouault

All art is political in that it represents the dominant ideologies of culture.  When art criticizes that ideology it becomes revolutionary – it times are ugly or confused, so the artwork of that time will appear to be ugly or confused.

See Expressionists – Max Beckman, George Greosz, and Kathe Kollwitz.

NB:  If you choose to quote from this blog please cite its URL in your Bibliography.

Jud House   15/09/2016

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