Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Your turn #10


John said...

You mentioned in class about asking us to search out Mondrian inspired modern works, is this something we are supposed to do in this post or for class?

Also, a little late in the semester to bring it up, but maybe in the future you could post a few essay starter type questions for us to riff on in these posts, i think that might help with turnout and getting the posts rolling earlier in the week.

amy Poliakoff said...

Since I went ahead and talked about the Bauhaus and modern architecture for last week's post I wanted to go back and talk about Dada in relation to the idea of modern art and the redefinition of art in general.

Dada signifies nothing; nonsense. It is a combination of sylables. The movement was a state of thinking an attitude toward tragedies of WW1. It is a violent disruptive and controversial antistylistic form of art. It is a state of mind rather than a tecnique. This state of mind influenced graphic design and an attitude of life today. Marcel Duchamp who moved to NY was the prime example of the Dada style. He chose random objects of ordinary use and robbed them of their function. He chose ready made objects, combined them, and created his definition of what is art. He took objects that have a utilitarian function for example and exhibited them in a new way.

This was important because he brought about the question of exhibition and the way we see art in general. Art is a system of relationships between or among the thing presented and the person looking at the object. The viewer has to complete this system. Duchamp used ordinary objects in a new absurd position like his upside down toilet which he called art to emphasize the mental aspect of art. He wanted the viewer to look at things in a new way. He viewed art up until this point in time as being a craft with nothing of thought. He said taht he didn't want to be dumb like a painter". He wanted to have art to do more with the mind than the executed painting. He said art had become a repetitive process of copying from nature. He wanted to change art from an artifact to a metafact.

He could paint like any great artist as seen in some of his early works but he wanted to redefine art itself and bring about the idea that art is the way we see it the we interpret it in its context. Dada rejected all traditions of the past in art and Duchamp wanted art to be seen as an idea rather than a representation. For the first time art was becoming philosophical becasue it no longer was about nature or your perception of what nature is but whatever you say is art. He recreated the definition of art as being a statement or political notion and philosophical idea rather than a craft. This is vital becasue in terms of graphic design formal composition now exhibited elements of absurdity, mockery, and any combinations of form to exhibit philosophical ideas.

amy Poliakoff said...

Also take a look at PIcabia and his stuffed monkey attached to a canvase surrounded by the words Cezanne, Rembrandt, and other artists. Here, PIcabia makes a abusrdity out of the traditional artists saying they copy what they see. Like the state of mind of Dada, PIcabia along with Duchamp both wanted to see art as an idea of what one says is art not just the craft of creating a statue.

A.T. said...

No. Maybe in passing, I mentioned that about Mondrian, but I don't mean for you guys to do that sort of thing now. That's a good point John. I take the suggestion -a little late thoguh :)

amanda said...

I love the idea of applying artistic principles such as those of Die Stijl to everyday life. Although I am not very
familiar with Theosophy, it seems only natural to me for art to have some spiritual elements or connections. The
goals of the followers of this movement were "ultimate simplicity and abstraction" as well as clarity and order
through the use of lines and basic colors such as red, yellow, and blue. The very handy Wikipedia also states that,
"Theosophists hold that everything, living or not, is put together from basic building
blocks," and it is very easy to see how artists such as Mondrian were trying to revert back to those "basic building
blocks." through the use of lines and colors. It is also interesting to note just how much today's modern designs for
furniture and architecture echo the clean and minimalistic taste of Neoplasticism, although I doubt the intentions to
be similar.

Gretel said...

Constructivism had a great influence in all design produced in the 20th century. Not only it was the main form of visual communication in Russia but it also spread in other parts of Europe. The great achievements in design by Maievich, Rotshenko and Lissitzky influenced Polish designer Berlewi, who though that design and commercial advertising could eliminate the differences between the artist and society. Czechoslovakian designers Sutnar and Teige created great examples of functional design in the form of everyday objects, advertisement, magazines and books.
The influence of Russian Constructivism can be clearly seen today in graphic design in elements like the geometrical use of typography and the economy of color and shapes. (Compare examples on page 306-307 with those on 526-527 in our book).
I feel a great pleasure in revisiting this time parting from zero, like AT suggested. It has been very enlightening to understand their motives and aims without thinking in the unfortunate social outcomes of the communist system that at some point rejected the artists and thinkers that initially ignited the spread of its ideology.

BTW: I looked the meaning of the word Пролетарии, from the Lenin’s podium: it means proletarians or workers, like in the phrase: Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! (Workers of the world, unite!)

Barry said...

Like Amanda, I find the romantic notion of art & life mirroring each other very intriguing-even though the debate regarding which reflects which has been discussed to the point of cliché. Rarely in history can you see revolutionary spirit so clearly expressed and documented in art as in the years leading up to the Russian Revolution when the Soviet State was being established. You can clearly see life reflecting art during this period. The constructivist artists, such as Tatlin, who believed that art should be abstract, functional, and utilitarian, defined a whole new culture. They merged their beliefs with those of the new Communist state and became powerful and influential designers of the new society.

Mariajose said...

Alexander Rodchenko was born in 1891 Saint Petersburg. The experimentation with the photomontage is what approaches Rodchenko to photography. When he was 33 years old he starts to practice photography as his main activity. Rodchenko was a master of angles and perspective; reality was his focus. It is evident that part of what help him to be successful in photography was to be extremely versatile with different techniques as painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture, photomontage, etc. Inevitably Alexander Rodchenko became one of the most important artists of his country and participated in multiple projects and activities. He was a decorator and scriptwriter in numerous films like JOURNALISTKA (1926), ALBIDUM (1928) and KOUKLAS MILLIONAMI (1928). He created the cinema and photography section in the magazine SOVETSKÓIE KINO and a charter member of the magazine OKTIABR'. I think photography for him was not only fundamental for his artistic expression but also help him to recognize its historic value. Rodchenko’s images narrate with sublime beauty an important part of the Soviet Union history.

A.T. said...

Gretel: Teige... one of my favorites!

Luis E. Piñol said...

I definitely agree that the contemporary designer inherently carries a foundation of constructivist style in their line of work. Constructivist stress for geometry, usage of square, circle and line, and the styles tri-tone properties have been imitated and enhanced ever since introduction, from Bauhaus, the corporate design work of the 80’s, to today. The constructivist sense of creating a message through shape has led to a revolution of typography. Similar to Art Noveau, in constructivism typefaces emerged as more than just letterforms, they took on the form of shapes. Also, the simplicity of the constructivist design, its accessibility with the masses and its ease of communication, revolutionized the way media reached and influenced the populace. There are many practitioners of constructivist style today, among them stands Shepard Fairey and his OBEY Giant campaign. Fairey’s poster-work, is constructivist in its foundation but highly original and in my opinion worthy of being in its own genre of mix-media art.

One thing I have noticed from the advent of this minimalist design is the eventual saturation of designers in the market. Though I am proud of the interest in design, I am saddened by what I see as a decline in design quality and a “textbook commercialization” of the art form. Maybe I am wrong, maybe there has always been this saturation of artist’s though out history, but I am certain that designers today, are mostly dull and non-inventive compared to the masters of the past. There are many, many talented contemporary artists and designers… Fairy, Murakami, Fish, Faile, ( I can go on and on)… but what I want to convey is that the practice of Graphic Design, on the whole, isn’t nearly as skillful and tedious as the work of Masters such as Muucha and Jose Guadalupe Posada.

John said...

I understand the point about the "commercialization" of today's art/design. And there definitely is something to the argument that designers of today might be perceived as lazy and the constructivist nature of the designs, the simple lines and color ethos just masks a desire to avoid the painstaking designs from the turn of the century. Having said that, it takes a lot of work to make simple sublimely so.

Jomar said...

Can anyone say "Writer's Block"? I'll continue to work through it. Whew!

JeannaHamilton said...

Kuleshov, Vertov and Eisenstein: 3 Contributions to Montage

These three came from the Cinema Committee, a group of filmmakers that was created by Lenin to help celebrate the Bolshevik Revolution. Based on the idea of constructivism, film was used as a theory that not only records reality but creates and transcribes a new reality. Montage filmmakers wanted to construct this new reality and they felt that collision editing was the best way to achieve this

Lev Kuleshov developed the theory labeled, “The Kuleshov Effect”. He discovered the importance behind the order that you place images within a sequence. Through a series of tests, he determined that the same blank face on every actor can be read by an audience depending on the images that proceeded and followed it.

Dziga Vertov could be considered one of the first filmmakers to create true “Cinema Verite”, a tradition that would be mimicked and recreated by filmmakers of Italian Neo-Realism and more recently, the Danish Dogme school. His called Hollywood films “cine-nicotine”, and answered their addictive nature with a purist approach on film-making. His “Life Caught Unawares” was one of many documentary style newsreels called Kino Pravda or “cine-truths”, which observed his subjects as objectively as possible.

Sergei Eisenstein desperately wanted his films to inspire his audience to take action. He wanted his images to feel conflicted enough to ignite the audience (i.e. firecrackers under their seat). His addition to montage editing, was based on a thinking audience a feeling one. Like Kuleshov, he played upon the idea that A+B=C (instead of A+B = A+B). He explored the order and rhythm that he placed each image within his sequence and capitalized on the associations that his audience could make between the two. He concentrated on the mis-en-scene to help create tension within the frame, and played off the idea of “collision editing” or images entering the frame from opposite sides and colliding in the middle, a theory that later would be examined by Leni Riefenstahl in her 1932 (propaganda?) film, Olympia. Many of Eisenstein’s scenes within October and Battleship Potemkin rely on type casting, pace and rhythm as well as an internal montage within a single shot to inspire the viewer.

shelby said...

In response to john and luis about designers of today being lazy or "commercialized," as i do agree with that, i think the designers of today have become commercialized because most everything in our society has become commercialized. When change occurs we learn to adapt and mold ourselves to the current situations and ideas. Works of art often reflect the times and events and today is no different. Commercialization has become a basis for the way our society functions so the designers of today design in that fashion.

Gretel said...

Teige's and other Czech book covers here:

Jomar said...

I find the De Stijl Movement of the early twentieth century which believed art was capable of leading mankind toward a brighter future and a new and revolutionary utopia, to have been overly ambitious. We can see how the utopian ideals manifested themselves through the works of Die Stijl leaders such as Van Doesburg whose literary commentary layed out the very principles on which the movement was founded, to the simplification of form and color by Piet Mondrian, to finally the 3-dimentional incorporation of the philosophy by Gerrit Rietveld. Their beliefs that this universal enlightenment and harmony was obscured by the individualism and irrelevancies of life were largely unrealistic.