Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Polish poster (a little history)

Franciszek Starowieyski, poster for the film House under the Rocks

The socio-historical context in which the Polish Style of Poster Design flourished, consisted of oppression, regulatory rigidity, and censorship. Poland’s leading artists, professors of art, design and architecture focused their passion on one art form, the cultural advertising poster. To the people, poster art in the streets -on walls, fences and kiosks, represented hope, and the only beauty visible in their otherwise gray landscape.

The paradox of artists doing their best work under oppressive conditions arose from the demanding negotiation between Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and the Russian government at the end of WWII. Cultural Officials wanted the artists to create posters to promote cultural events such as imported U.S. films -Tomaszewski insisted, that to gain his support, and that of the artistic community and universities, the visual imagery created by the poster designers could not be censored or made to conform to the prevailing social realism style.

An agreement was reached, and a renaissance creating a new visual language using symbolism and metaphor was born. Through international biennales and graphic design competitions, Polish posters attracted international acclaim, and became one of the art world’s great stories of creativity. The recent film festival officially selected documentary film Freedom On The Fence pays tribute to this inspiring art history and homage to the now deceased decades of artists that produced these works.
(Notes: Rosenberg Collection)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

your turn #8

(above the pitch of Saul Bass to ATT for its logo redesign -watch and learn)

there's plenty to discuss: Lubalin, symbol signage, Stankowski's metadesign, Swiss Topography Style, advertising, propaganda, Bass film title design, Alvin Lustig, pre logo, logo, the logo masters: Rand, Bass, Chermayeff & Geismar. 

go ahead,

Saturday, November 5, 2016

your turn #7

alexander liberman, vogue, 1950

we took a sweep at graphic design in between the wars: the liberatyed woman of the roaring 20's, the suffragist backlash. the stars of european graphic design: a.m. cassandre, lester beal, joseph binder, agha, liberman, mcnight kauffer, piet zmart, herbert matter, alex brodovith, the design force of neoplasticism, surrealism in cinema, poster goes to war, normal rockwell, margaret bourke white's photos, public health design, informational analysis design, design reportage... 

a lot to process. pick your favorite. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

your turn #6

Magritte, The Threatened Assassin, 1926

we had to go very fast, to cover thirty years of 20th century avant-garde:

deutscher werkbund, blue rider, expressionism (woodcut, film, graphic design, architecture), neue sachlichkeit circa 1926 (grosz, dix), cubism (analytic, synthetic, collage!), dada (political, metaphysic), futurism (music, graphic design, architecture), die neue typographie (tschichold), russian futurism, malevich geometric abstraction, russian constructivism (film, theater, architecture), rodchenko, lissitsky. BAUHAUS (pottery, architecture, textiles, theater, furniture, etc), surrealism (film, graphic design, photo).

keep in mid graphic design,

go ahead.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

sorry, forgot about Jan Tschichold

Tschichold's background is in calligraphy, which sets him apart from almost all other noted typographers of the time (since many of them were architects). he became a leading advocate of modernist design: first with an influential 1925 magazine supplement; then a 1927 personal exhibition; then with his most noted work Die neue Typographie

1- tschichold condemned all fonts except sans-serif (called 'Grotesk' in Germany). 
2- non-centered design (e.g., on title pages.
3- standardized paper sizes for all printed matter, and
4- effective use of different sizes and weights of type in order to quickly and easily convey information.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"I will reveal to you with words that are simple" -- Mayakovsky

As they say,"the incident is closed."
The love boat wrecked by daily life.
I'm all even with life and nothing would be gained by listing
mutual hurts, troubles, and insults.. . . .
Don't think I'm a coward. Seriously, it could not be helped (Mayakovsky's suicide note).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

the art of mystery: max klinger's illustrations

Max Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe. An admirer of the etchings of Menzel and Goya, he shortly became a skilled and influential engraver in his own right. Klinger traveled extensively around the art centers of Europe for years before returning to Leipzig. From 1897 he mostly concentrated on sculpture. Klinger was cited by many artists (notably de Chirico, as being a major link between the Symbolist movement of the 19th century and the start of the metaphysical and Surrealist movements of the 20th century. Believe it or not, Klinger was a strong influence for one of my favorite photographers, Francesca Woodman.


Here, the mysterious story of the glove.

Kolomam Moser Ver Sacrum, 1898 (mythic primitivism return to innocence)

(a quick look at moser's ouvre)

American Art Nouveau: William Henry Bradley

William Henry Bradley was largely self-taught as an artist. He began working in a printer's shop at the age of twelve in Ishpeming, Michigan, where his mother had moved in 1874 after the death of his father. This work experience would be important in introducing the young man to the many issues of typesetting, advertisements, and layout that would occupy him in the years to come. Bradley executed a number of designs to promote The Chap-Book, a short-lived but important publication based in Chicago. His 1894 design for Chap-Book, titled The Twins, has been called the first American Art Nouveau poster; this and other posters for the magazine brought him widespread recognition and popularity. (Above, Bradley's poster for The Chap Book, 1895).

The Saturday Evening Post

Otto von Bismarck, by George Gibbs

From 1821 to 1969 The Saturday Evening Post published current events articles, editorials, human interest pieces, humor, illustrations, a letter column, poetry (including work written by readers), single-panel cartoons and stories.

It was known for commissioning lavish illustrations and original works of fiction. The illustrations were featured on the cover, and embedded in stories and advertising. Some Post illustrations became popular and continue to be reproduced, especially those by Norman Rockwell.

Jean Delville's artistic mystery

The Treasures of Satan, 1898.
If you want to understand that unique moment in the history of Nineteenth-Century art from 1884-1892 nothing better than the Les XX. One of the the group's most interesting artists is Jean Delville, who lived most of his life in Brussels, but also spent some years in Paris, Rome, Glasgow and London. 

Portrait of Madame Stuart Merril,
 Delville began his training at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts when he was twelve, continuing there until 1889, and winning a number of top prizes (among them Prix de Rome). In addition to painting, Delville also expressed his ideas in numerous written texts. He became interested in spiritual and esoteric subjects during his early twenties. In 1887 or 1888 he met Sâr Joséphin Péladan, an eccentric mystic and occultist, who defined himself as a modern Rosicrucian, descended from the Persian Magi. 

Delville's monumental Homme Dieu, 1895.
Delville was struck by a number of Péladan’s ideas, among them his vision of the ideal artist as a spontaneously developed initiate, whose mission was to send light, spirituality and mysticism into the world. He exhibited paintings in Péladan's Salons of the Rose + Croix between 1892 and 1895. Sometime during the mid to late 1890s, Delville joined the Theosophical Society, and in 1910 he became the secretary of the theosophical movement in Belgium. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

your turn #5

Brad Holland, Junkie, 1972

this is a great moment in history for the graphic arts: children's books, calendars, cards, comics, puck, chromolithography, gibson, nast, pre-raphaelites, reception, morris, the idea of gesamtkunstwerk, victorian design vs. arts and crafts, a bunch of figures: millais, gaudy, pisarro, mckmurdo, madox brown, grasset, beardsley. 

go ahead! 

this is the list of images & concepts for our midterm exam (review)

here is a list of images for our Midterm Exam.

here is a list of concepts for our Midterm Exam.

1- Identification of images requires the following: Artist, Title, Year.
2- For the images I've added a bit more information, but only for your own knowledge. It never hurts to know more than less.
3- Regarding the list of concepts, i'm linking to Wikipedia articles. what you have there is the basic information-kernel you should know. my fill in the blank, or true/false, etc, questions will be based on that sort of succinct definition. 
4- It's important that you spell the names of these artists & tendencies correctly (if need be, practice the spelling).

we should have our midterm exam in two weeks, i.e., thursday october 6

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rudolph Koch (the northern influence)

Rudolph Koch was for most of his career the staff designer at the Klingspor type foundry in Offenbach. Early work by Peter Behrens and Otto Eckmann showed a clear Jugendstil culture upon which he built, designing revised blackletter faces. He combined the talents of punch cutter and calligrapher, two skills sometimes at odds with each other (above Koch various specimens).

Some of Koch well known fonts.

Here a list of Koch's "Christian symbols."

Frederic W. Goudy

Born in Bloomington, Illinois in 1865, Frederic W. Goudy, was one of the most well known and prolific American type designers. Frederic Goudy is best known for his type-styles: Oldstyle, Kennerly, Garamond, Deepdone and Forum. 

What do we see here? 

Essentially Goudy took the notion of the private press typeface inaugurated by William Morris and extended it to the larger world of commerce. Kennerley, the typeface designed for The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells (published by Mitchell Kennerley, 1911), was the turning point in his career, the moment when type design began to overtake lettering and private press printing as his principal activity.

how do you design "shopping"?

This one is fresh from the  NY Times, a candid look at how corporations learn from human behavior:
The reason Target can snoop on our shopping habits is that, over the past two decades, the science of habit formation has become a major field of research in neurology and psychology departments at hundreds of major medical centers and universities, as well as inside extremely well financed corporate labs (...) One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day, and recent discoveries have begun to change everything from the way we think about dieting to how doctors conceive treatments for anxiety, depression and addictions.
And how corporations get into the habit forming business? It turns by making you believe you make the choice!
“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance. “And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”
Didn't you know this already?

I see it differently. Though they play the paternalistic game, corporations understand that we live in bad faith, (they mine on it and, by default, get us in the end).

Being a "consumer" means pretending independence.

Let's look again at this cycle of consumer's bad faith: You know you are being spied on, so you choose to play a game of "consumer independence," falling for the pretense that this time it's your choice?? (not the corporation's?). Bunk.

with the growth of the advertising industry, graphic art became an integral part of the way products reach consumers

the freedom of bicycling interpreted by georges massias as a fantasy

designing the calendar, circa 1885

amazing control of printing techniques, graphic dazzle, printers produces these kinds of calendars. every color was a separately printed and registered press run. the composition shows the printer's rich letters and motifs.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

yout turn #4

take this famous illustration by g. doré entitled the neophyte. the young, next to the decrepit, there's so much here to mine!

what's on your mind?

lots to talk about: doré, romanticism again, early photography and its developments, daguerreotype, pictorialism, freaks, circus,  19th century typefaces, newspapers and its development, magazines and its development, political satire.

go ahead!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

the design of the freak (popular entertainment at the fringe of normality)

a 26-month-old hairy baby was one of the attractions on show at the freak circuses around the mid-1800s in New York
four-legged myrtle corbin. presumably she had two sets of female genitalia

Eddie Masher, "the skeleton dude"

'Big-footed' Fanny Mills
Anne Leek, the armless lady, joined a freak show to earn a living
around mid-19th century, both in england and the US, "freak shows" finally reached maturity, as successful commercially run enterprises. PTBarnum in the US was a major producer of freak entertainment. in 1842, PTB introduced his first major hoax, a creature with the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish, known as the "feejee" mermaid. PTB followed that with the exhibition of charles ctratton, the dwarf. "General Tom Thumb" who was then four years of age but was stated to be 11.
charles ctratton, the dwarf "general tom thumb"
charles had stopped growing after the first six months of his life, at which point he was 25 inches (64 cm) tall and weighed 15 pounds. with heavy coaching and natural talent, the boy was taught to imitate people from hercules to napoleon. by five, he was drinking wine and by seven smoking cigars for the public's amusement.

my point is that "freak" is a "design" for the masses. part entertainment, part exotic, part wondrous, at the fringes of admissible and the society of the normal. as instrumentalized as they were, these creatures were admired, a social phenomenon which played in both directions.   

the designer/illustrator goes to war

During the 1860's war reporting galvanized journalism, and the call for graphic designers offered opportunity for young artists to acquire experience in the high-pressure, short-deadline world of publishing.  Homer's composition reveals the narrative conventions of his day. The emotional impact of his drawings derives from Homer's choice of the moment to be represented with all that it implies about the events preceding an d following it.

Photo in-motion: Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge started his reputation in 1867, with photos of Yosemite and San Francisco and became famous for his landscape photographs, which showed the grandeur and expansiveness of the West. The images were published under the pseudonym “Helios.”

Muybridge helped solve the riddle of the horse's gallop.

Most artists painted horses at a trot with one foot always on the ground; and at a full gallop with the front legs extended forward and the hind legs extended to the rear, and all feet off the ground. Muybridge perfected his method of horses in motion, proving that they do have all four hooves off the ground during their running stride.

redesigning the body today

Above, Mexican tattoo star Mary Jose Cristerna, known as the "La Mujer Vampiro" ("the female vampire"), poses during a tattoo exhibition, Caracas, January, 2012.

Cristerna shifts "freak" to art.  What she does is reassigning & appropriating what cannot be classified:

design surface ---> skin,
design ---> self
message ---> performativity

She is not alone:  Orlan is an inspiration. 

On the other hand, you have the opposite effect w Lady Gaga, who takes "freak" to make it politically correct. This is another way of normalizing. Gaga is the political correctness of Madonna for the 21st century.

viva da freaks!

I find that Buzzfeed calls this series "ridiculous monsters."

Let's excuse BF's lack of historical acumen at not mentioning provenance. 

My problem is that BF takes for granted that these "monsters" did not exist. Really?

Take a look at this (some amongst these "freaks" belong in a prominent list! (via the human marvels)*
Josephine Clofullia (the so-called "bearded lady of Geneva")
It boils down to a distorted representation of the past, or better, an blidspot for our present. It happens by design, i.e., our "present" antiseptic idea of "normality."

The Swiss manuscript presents a rational treatment of the issue,

Switzerland, 1557
The title reads "Chronicle of Omens and Portents from the beginning of the world up to these our present times," (Switzerland, 1557). The Chronicon is dramatic & naive in its quasi-scientific approach. We are looking at early anthropology! The shift in perception of how to understand these human types changes from 16th century "portents" to 19th century "freaks" (i.e, we find them as curiosities in the circuses of Europe and America). Today's political correctness works in a perverse way: nowadays we don't call these people "freaks" (in fact, we don't have a word for them). And yet, we think that 16th century illustrators were, as Buzzfeed calls them, "fucked up".   
*Thanks to J. Tithonus Pednaud's The Human Marvels, a formidable research/site!

Stereogranimator (from New York City Public Library)

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at

(via Design Sponge)

For a gallery of images.

early underwater photography??

underwater photography (1893)

louis boutan is the first underwater photographer (via professor eliot)

photograpy as naturalism (by niepce)

joseph niepce's first photograph from nature (1826)

first there is heliography. what is it?
... during his trials with lithography, Niepce experimented with light-sensitive varnishes and then with images produced in camera, but he was unable to prevent the images from fading. Niépce discovered that he produced his best results while using a solution of bitumen of Judea, which dated back to the ancient Egyptians but continued to be used for making lithographic engravings in the 1800s.
then comes, photography:
In 1822, Niépce successfully made a heliograph from an engraving of Pope Pius VII, which was destroyed during an attempt to copy it some years later. Over the next few years, Niépce experimented with bitumen on pewter or zinc plates that could be inked for printing. His best results came in 1826 with the copying of an engraving of the Cardinal Georges d'Amboise in which Niépce invented the first successful form of photomechanical reproduction.

photo as portrait (not the selfie)

at this early stage photography is the non-selfie. photography means to capture the world.