Modernism can be simply defined as a style or movement in the arts that aims to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms. Modernists say that form must follow function. Post modernism refers to a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.
We were asked to find one piece of work that we find interesting and unusual from each design period to discuss. Coming from a fine art background I am going to discuss two pieces of art that fall into the two categories of modernism and post modernism and then discuss two pieces of graphic design which do the same:
Pablo Picasso 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ('The Young Ladies of Avignon', and originally titled T'he Brothel of Avignon') 1907 - Oil on Canvas
Picasso is widely recognised as one of the worlds most successful modernists, and one of the worlds pioneers of abstraction. He is one of my artistic hero's. Abstract art uses form, colour and line to create a composition which exists outside of visual reality. From the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, Western art had been based on the logic of perspective and was generally an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality.
Rober Rauschenberg 'Pledge' 1968 - Lithograph on paper
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Rauschenberg was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photography, printmaking, paper making, and performance. His work can be described as post modernist. Post modernists sought to contradict some aspects of modernism through experimentation and deconstruction of pre-existing values and ideologies. In general, artistic movements such as Installation art, Conceptual Art and Multimedia, particularly involving video are described as post modern. Rauschenberg was a multimedia artist, pushing ideas in many fields, constantly changing the rules when it came to collage, painting, photography and collage. The above piece of work 'Pledge' is neither traditional nor abstract, to me it is experimental and is commenting on the time in which it was created.
Graphic Image One:
Josef Müller-Brockmann: Musica Viva Rosbaud, 1959
J. M. Brockmann was a Swiss graphic designer and teacher. In 1936 he opened his Zurich studio specialising in graphic design, exhibition design and photography. From 1951 he produced concert posters for the Tonhalle in Zurich. In 1958 he became a founding editor of New Graphic Design. He is recognised for his simple designs and his clean use of typography, shape, colour and minimalist layout and composition. Brockmann is the father of the iconic typeface Akzindenz Grotesk, which in turn inspired the creation of Helvetica and also influenced many later neo-grotesque typefaces after 1950. Musica Viva Rosbaud is a shining example of Brockmanns' ability to create stunningly simplistic pieces of design. There is almost no visual information contained in this image, yet the subtle use of geometry and colour suggest subtle messages. The spaced out 'dots' could be representing musical notes on a page, or a fragmented sound wave. You can read what you want into minimalism, and that is what I enjoy most about it. Brockmann has also employed a crisp sans serif font, a weapon used by all modernist designers. There is a clear grid in use here, another concept that is associated with modernism. However Brockmann has radically altered the grid and slanted it on an angle. This poster was created towards the end of the 'Modernist' era, just before the chaos of post modernism descended on the world, yet you wouldn't know it. It is confident, stylish and bold and reminiscent of early Bauhaus design.
Graphic Image Two:
David Carson's Grunge Typography and Layout, 1990s
David Carson is best known for his innovative magazine design, and his experimental typography. The art director for Ray Gun, Carson was perhaps the most influential graphic designer of the nineties. You could describe his work as being post post modernist. His use of widely-imitated aesthetics defined the so-called "grunge" era of the 1990s. He disregards the grid that modernist designers favour so much, instead his work has a more home made, art student, collaged feel. Carson became interested in a new school of typography and photography-based graphic design and is largely responsible for popularizing the style. He inspired many young designers of the 90s, and he has been one of the greatest influences on modern graphic design in the last twenty five years.