Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Your turn #4

I'll keep posting more stuff but in the meantime you can go ahead and post your comments.


amanda said...

I can definitely see the influence of the medieval period in Lucien and Esther Pissarro's Ishtar’s Descent to the Nether World; there is a very notable gothic theme present throughout. Although there is certainly a sense of “going back to go forward” here, you can also see a more modern style emerging in that this piece seems more like something Van Gogh could have created as opposed to Durer. The thick lines ironically form intricate patterns in the trees above and result in much detail throughout the work, especially in the ground. These elements come together to indeed form an intense expressionistic energy that cannot go unnoticed. I also feel that the use of black and white really help the viewer to see the darkness and sorrow of the moment without being distracted by color. It is very naturalistic in the sense that the lack of color leaves the piece naked so nothing exists but this real moment of anguish.

Barry said...
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Barry said...

I also find the Pisarro print very powerful and agree with Amanda’s comments. Ishtar's Descent to the Netherworld and the other books published by Lucien and Esther Pissarro’s Eragny Press are all equally beautiful. They chose stories that espouse the noble principles in which they believed: “a life lived with respect for one's self, for others, and for the natural environment.” Their books re-tell stories from England, France, Belgium, China and the Ancient Near East. Esther Bensusan (1870 - 1951) was from England and Lucien Pissarro (1863 - 1944) was French. Through their marriage and their books they brought together the English Arts and Crafts Movement and French Neo-Impressionist forms and ideals.

Amanda described the formal issues that make the image so successful. But I find it compelling on another level. The simplicity and starkness of this and other black and white images, such as A. H. Mackmurdo’s title page to Wren's City Churches, are initially quick reads because of their simplicity. But then I find myself coming back to them. They hold my attention as I try to understand how so much can be expressed using so little. This is especially true when these images are in the context of other more visually complex images.

I am not quite sure how to characterize this phenomenon but in thinking about this, a couple of unrelated visual images that strike me in a similar way come to mind.

When I am in a museum, I always gravitate to modern & contemporary 2D galleries. I love going to museums but I easily and often get visually overwhelmed so that all of the images begin to compete and negate each other. Franz Kline is by no means my favorite, but I always breathe a little sigh of relief when I leave a room full of very complex images and enter one with Kline paintings. Again their simplicity and (usually) lack of color sets them apart and I lose myself analyzing them in a similar way.

When trying to bring this train of thought back to graphic design, I thought of Ketel One’s current ad campaign and remembered an article by David Segal in the Washington Post that I read over the weekend: Is It Time to Eighty-Six Those Ketel One Ads?
I (confess that I am biased because of my fondness for dirty Ketel One but above & beyond that) think that the ads are very successful, again, because of the simplicity, directness, and starkness that sets them apart from the overwhelming visual stimulus found in popular magazines. Admittedly this comparison is a stretch because the ads are more complex/conceptual than visual but I do feel that there are parallels.

Focus groups always place Ketel One high on any list of ads that people see and remember and I would be very surprised if everyone in class is nor familiar with them. The Post article summarizes the campaign well: “Most advertising is a death match in which victory goes to the loudest and/or the most dazzling and/or the cleverest. It's been true for so long that consumers have fine-tuned their own internal defense system, which automatically and unconsciously spots ads and filters them out before they can register. Ketel One, or rather its ad agency, knows that. So the essential components of clutter -- color, cars, cleavage -- have been swapped for the opposite of clutter. It's like a guy in a noisy room who won't speak above the din, which tricks you into leaning in close to listen”.

But there are also plenty of people that disagree with me and I found some of their criticism very entertaining (but obscene):

amy Poliakoff said...

When thinking about Lucien Pissarro one can not help to think about the great Camille, his father. Camille Pissarro inspired Cezanne who in turn, many can argue, is the father of the cubist movement by George Braque and Pablo Picasso.

Cezanne painted, after experience and experimentation, in the form of small squares to compose a picture. It was this that led Braque to invent cubism and Picasso to take this a step further through creativity in his art.

Today cubism has a heavy influence on the modern world especially the minimalist architecture for buildings used today. In looking at the impressionist and cubist movement it is clear that graphic design was affected by the principles of these movements.

In looking at one of the greatest graphic designers of the time period, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec it is clearly visible through his use of formal composition to see the characteristics of both impressionism and cubism. In Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge-La Goulue lithograph only four dominant colors are used. Color was used to bring about a reaction in both impressionism and cubism. No longer did modeling occur to define shape but the colors themselves were used to express emotion and shape.

In Lautrec’s poster, colors define objects. In addition the graphic design of this poster has a scene shown in a flat surface. A lack of depth was common in graphic design posters of the time. This was a typical way of painting for the avant garde impressionists and the primary goal of the flat grid used by cubists. Van Gogh himself had a fascination with color he considered black and white to be colors themselves…here in this poster black and white are used as one color to define figures. Clearly …avant garde artists of the late 19th century affected the look of graphic design.

Mariajose said...

Frederic W. Goudy is one of the best known American typographers. In 1895 he founded Camelot Press and printed “American Chap-Book” which was published for only a year. The following year Goudy sold its first alphabet called Camelot to the Dickinson Type. In 1903 he founds Village Press which remained open for a short five years do to a fire accident. After World War I, he reopens Village Press and in 1924 he moved it to New York. Goudy was unhappy with the way his handmade alphabet drawings were transferred to a more mechanical form, so he determined to have full control of the process. Sadly, in 1939, once again a fire devastates his business and destroys his machinery and drawings. After the fire, he decides to dedicate his life to teach and lecture. Federic Goudy designed a total of 116 fonts and published 59 literary works. Typography is a great contribution to graphic design, since images and text are two important visual tools within a graphic composition. Also it is crucial to have a readable font for designs because with clear letters a comprehensible massage is transmitted. Gaudy’s fonts’ readability captured the idea of comprehensible letters. Letters are extremely vital, with letters we form words, with words phrases and with phrases we represent ideas and concepts.

Gretel said...

I agree with Dr. Triff that the Arts and Crafts movement is a truly authentic and committed one. Artistic movements that go back to the past usually carry a deep rebellious feeling and even if the borrow many of their visual elements from past styles, they also provide a new look on events and aesthetics and a refreshing artistic freedom.
The exquisite detailed work in some of Morris’ tiles and textiles designs are undoubtedly unique. One could be tricked thinking they belong to a previous time. And yet, it has some completely new elements, most notably perhaps the careful manipulation of colors and symmetry.
A question comes to mind of till what extent later artists and architects like Antoni Gaudi, were influenced by these aesthetics. Looking at his most famous works, one can find some of Ruskin’s movement main ideas: Gothic revival, Organic designs and even the intention of functionalism turned into an elite product.

Zureyka said...

Just like many of the other American printers, Frederic Goudy was inspired by William Morris’ work. Even at a young age he was very passionate over letterforms. He became interested in literature, art, and typography on “a higher plane than mere commercialism.” In 1895, he set up the Booklet Press, and was able to design his first typeface, which is known to be “Camelot”. Goudy is credited as being the first full-time American type-designer, running his own Village Press until it was destroyed in a fire in 1908. In that same year, it marked the end of Goudy’s efforts as a printer. He began to turn his attention and energy towards the design, cutting and casting of typefaces and began a long involvement with the Lanston Monotype Company, which was able to commission most of his best and well-known fonts. During Goudy’s career, he was able to design a total amount of 122 typefaces, which was often inspired by the Renaissance and from the humanist movement in typography.

Many people take for granted how much work is put into each and every typeface created from before our time. What is impressive is that Goudy not only devoted his time and effort into making typefaces but he was able to create an impressive amount of 122 of them. Most of his typefaces are widely used today in different aspects of graphic design, advertisements and even in literature.

Natali said...

Arts & Crafts Movement

Sprouting from the soil of Britain, the Arts and Crafts movement had its roots in a philosophical reaction to the leveling and hollowing of the Industrial Revolution. Ruskin was the primary source of philosophical fertilizer for the movement, stressing orderliness, unity of design, and seamless presentation. One major aim, though not achieved, was to counter the numberless replicas of mass production with original art produced by hand for one and all. Another aim was to harmonize art and industry…the organic and the mechanical…resulting in technical brilliance and the seeds of the fruit that was to be what came to be known as Art Nouveau some decades later as evidenced by the vegetal imagery in the work of Mackmurdo, for example. Print schools, artist guilds, commercial companies, and the individuals who remained upon their dissolution were the driving vehicles for the movement’s advance and impact, primarily in northern Europe and America, where this revival produced genuine and lasting innovation, particularly in regard to intertwining text and image into a coherent, seemingly organic whole.

John said...

One of the things that bugs me when I'm walking around a museum, or a design conference, or in the board room during the planning phase is the reliance on your audience being educated enough to understand what "you're trying to do." People seem to use that phrase way too often, its come up a few times in regards to the Arts and Craft movement.
They tried to bring back the human touch to manufacturing. They had several other aims, reasons for what they did, but to a layman, it's not particularly obvious what it is they have done when standing before something in the museum.
To go back to Work from the previous week, that was another painting where most of the enjoyment comes from the detailed explanation provided by the painter at it's first public exhibition. I think the same is true of Dada work, you really need to bring a lot with you to the museum to appreciate the work.
There are some paintings like Van Gough or a Picasso that are just aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves, whether or not they have a lengthy abstract that reveals a deeper aspect of the painting. And I think that's why i like those works more than others, and it's why i think those Kettle One ads work so well. Yes, there is a good technical reason why they are designed that way, and it adds to the appreciation, but they were designed carefully enough to not require any sort of knowledge to enjoy them.
I see the same thing occurring in some newsrooms, where the infographic artists design way over the head of the reading public, but get the work trough by giving the big speech to the editors.

Anyway, that's my rant. Goudy rocks.

Paul said...

The repetitive “soulless” production methods of the Industrial Revolution would lead to a new movement called the Arts and Crafts movement. This started at the end of the nineteenth century, and wanted to evoke a revival of master craftsmanship within artist’s guilds. This kept me thinking; I was always hesitant with graphic design because I was completely oblivious on how to use many of the computer programs used in design. I never liked the idea of artists using computers to make their art, however, now I see it as an advantage. Probably just as these past artists used the printing pressed to their advantage, we can interweave the techniques of free hand creativity with the precision and mixed media of the computers to our advantage.

mitch blessing said...

Antoní Gaudí does rock. In Barcelona he is everywhere, and they don't refer to the style as Arte Noveau, in Spanish and Catalán they simply call it Modernismo. For them I guess the style reflects such a broad departure from the past architecture and imagery that it was considered distinctly modern in comparison. Of course the decorative floral motifs and the arts and crafts influence are evident as a source of inspiration, but the design is wholely changed.

I think it is the oft referred to "whiplash line", more than anything, that signals the change and provides the inspiration.

I like Barry's comment about the famous Wren's City Churches book cover design by Mackmurdo. The compelling image. The strong b/w, positive/negative simplicity. The First read is quick. And like the "Ketel One" ad, and the "Absolute Vodka "campaign before it, the strong, simple, quick read can win the ad campaign. "Rappala" billboards and magazine ads come to mind. A different catch phrase, but always a 3-hook lure with a big eye on a broad white background.

I am not sure how these more international style, grid-locked simplicity campaigns tie in to the whiplash of Modernism over a century ago, but I know what is visually compelling.

I just wanted to say that there was a conscious decision at the time to move from the tighly controlled floral and knot patterns relegated to page borders into a more flowing, all-over scheme of decorative layout that would influence type and poster design up to the contemporary.
Whenever we bend a line of type around a curved path on our Illustrator artboard we are observing the power of that non-grid, yet tightly controlled whiplash line to move our senses beyond the page, into a rythym.

The Greatful Dead, Janis, Jimmy, and Jefferson Airplane thought it worked just as well as William Blake, Gaudí, Lautrec, and Mackmurdo.

Luis Ernesto said...

I would like to reinforce the point A.T. brought up at the end of our last class session. As of now, every epoch of design that we have studied has paid tribute to an earlier era of art. Until the modernist movements of the twentieth century, notably Futurism and Constructivism, the norm of artistic progression was to imitate the past and implement the present, thus creating a totally unique work of art. The Renaissance served as a commemoration to ancient Rome and Greece, a reinvigorated sense of proportion and harmony were at the forefront of this epoch. The age of classicism brought upon a further reinvigoration of proportion, the rise of systematic type and space (both concepts that began in the Renaissance in a more subtle manner) and the demise of incunabulum design. The Design of the Industrial Revolution served as a negative reaction to that of classicism, a deliberate shunning of typographic and special order achieved during that era (an intentional step backward in technicality) and the Victorian / Arts and Crafts movement paid homage to pre-renaissance design, Gothic motifs and the intricacies of detail and line. The designs of William Morris and the study and contributions of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelite’s highlight this dedication towards the past ( the gothic / medieval revival).

Luis Ernesto said...

I would like to point out that the trend I have outlined above is totally relevant today. As a designer, I pay homage to the pulp characters and novelty designs of the early to mid-twentieth century as well as in the patterns and motifs of the past. I have found that this is prominent with artists throughout the contemporary design scene. There has been a reinvigoration of Futurist and constructivist design, a re-emergence of the cartoon character and also many designers are paying homage to the sci-fi design of the 70’s and 80’s.

JeannaHamilton said...

Post 1:
Dürer’s “The Apocalypse”
This past March I made my first visit to Italy with my mother. I was delighted that the both Gallerias dell’ Accademia in Florence and Venice featured special exhibitions on Dürer’s prints and carvings. Literally over a hundred of his works, both from his “Knight, Death and the Devil” and “The Apocalypse” series, as well as some of his portraits.

My mother wanted to skip through these rooms to find Michelangelo’s David, and kept on asking me the importance of these miniature scenes. At the time I was speechless- this was Dürer!!! But after reviewing his contribution to printmaking, and discussing him in class I think I would be better prepared to explain his significance to my mother now.

These prints marked the beginning of the Renaissance, the start of perspective and the beginning of a golden age Dürer’s themes embodied the desolation and destitution of the Dark Age, but his detail and method would usher in a light of inspiration of the Renaissance. Marked by collaboration with other regions, and experimentation with proportion, and anatomy. It was Dürer, amongst his contemporaries, who would bridge the gap between Pollaiuolo, and Titian. Dürer gave printmaking a legitimacy that would further the distribution and success of many early Renaissance painters such as Raphael, Titian.

Post 2:
Geofroy Tory and Orthotypography
Who would have thought that we have one man, Geofroy Tory, to thank for all our punctuation frustrations, and hours of tedious handwriting lessons in gradeschool?
I must say I was surprised to find a name and a date with the “invention” of apostrophe, comma, accented letters, and cedilla. No doubt these punctuation marks were in use before Tory standardized their look and general proportion, however Tory’s “Field-fleury”, gave them a standard.

The typography associated with the typefaces that we take for granted while toggling through Indesign and Photoshop today seems to have stemmed from Tory’s era of publishing. Much of the creativity associated with typography is possible due to the modulation of orthotypographic rules and principles that Tory dictated in his 1529 work “Champfleury”.

Looking at Tory’s graphing of roman capital letters on a Vitruvian architect board makes me think immediately to DaVinci’s drawing of the “Vitruvian Man”. Linking art and science to determine perfect natural proportion is a reoccurring theme for this era of enlightenment.

Post 3:
I agree with Amanda that Ishtar’s Decent to the Nether World, extreme attention to detail serves as almost a tribute to the painstaking method of the early Renaissance and Gothic style. Both this piece and the illustration paired with Jan van Krimpen’s typography, immediately made me think of German Expressionism within film, specifically Robert Wiene’s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, and whether or not these eras were related in influence and general timeline. Film movements generally follow art movements with around a twenty-year delay, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that German Expressionism on film began around 1920 as well. Dark and moody, the themes of Expressionism became prolific within the film genre, and lived-on past the short-lived era within art. German Expressionist films borrowed directly from graphic design at this time. To make up for lack of funds in early Expressionist films, graphic design artists were utilized on set to literally paint and stylize the floors, walls, and ceilings (in black and white designs similar to A.H. Mackmurdo’s Wren’s City Churches) in order to abstractly represent lights, shadows and objects that a small budget wouldn’t allow.