Thursday, November 17, 2016

Shigeo Fukuda

Design is 30 percent dignity, 20 percent beauty and 50 percent absurdity

the first thing first manifesto

Written in 1963 and published in 1964 by Ken Garland along with 20 other designers, photographers and students, the manifesto was a reaction to the staunch society of 1960s Britain and called for a return to a humanist aspect of design. It lashed out against the fast-paced and often trivial productions of mainstream advertising, calling them trivial and time-consuming. It's solution was to focus efforts of design on education and public service tasks that promoted the betterment of society.

George Lois' revolutionary Esquire covers

Few art directors have had a career like George Lois. He left Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1960 at 28 to start Papert Koenig Lois because he was convinced creatives needed to be in control of everything. That shop was the first major agency to have an art director's name on its door, and it was the first togo public. But Lois regretted that move because his partners started playing it safe. He soon had enough, and in 1967 he went off on his own. In between his groundbreaking ad work, Lois designed memorable conceptual covers for Esquire Magazine.

What's Lois secret? In his own words: 
1. My first commandment: The word comes first, then the visual. 2. A trend is always a trap. 3. A Big Idea can change world culture. 4. Teamwork might work in building an Amish barn, but it can’t create a Big Idea. 5. To create great work, here’s how you must spend your time: 1% inspiration, 9% perspiration, 90% justification. 6. When you know a client is dead wrong about a marketing opportunity, create a brand name that blows his mind! 7. Make your surroundings a metaphor for who you are. 8. Research is the enemy of creativity--unless it’s your own "creative" research (heh-heh). 9. Creating advertising that is icon rather than con depends on the deep belief that your message is more than the purchase of a product or service.  

cuban revolutionary posters (1960's-1970's)

 May Day. All with Fidel on the Square of the Revolution, CTC, 1964

Even as revolutions have lost the appeal they used to have in the 1960’s, one can still say that the Cuban Revolution was extremely popular all over the world. In fact, one can compare the Revolution to Pop art. They are both mass-driven movements.  The new communist ideology considered advertising a sort of "Capitalist tool" for commercialization, a perverse form of Capitalist "brainwashing."

This apparent dislocation between advertising –adapting to the new times– and propaganda needs to be discussed further, and we don't have time to go into it right now. Suffice to say that they sometimes overlap. But in Cuba in the early 1960's propaganda was yet to find a true voice. But let’s go back a little. In 1959 the ICAIC: The Cuban Institute for Cinematographic Art and Industry and La Casa de las Américas (House of the Americas were founded).

By 1961 the Government eliminated ads in radio, television and the press. Aesthetic prejudices and strong debates also occurred, but design succeeded in general in imposing its freedom of expression and the creators were respected. The Revolution brought a profound transformation of Cuban society. Social communication was deeply affected by these changes and graphic design becomes the ideal medium for propaganda.

Since the mid ‘60s, the ICAIC posters had the same format (52 x 76 cm) and technique (serigraphy) plus a group of prolific creators (Bachs, Azcuy, Ñiko and Reboiro being the leading ones), which contributed to make them a consistent group of promotional graphics that remained in existence for several decades.

Casa de las Américas, in turn, created in 1960 the journal of the same name, in which Umberto Peña worked with great creativeness from 1965 until the late 1980s.

Umberto Peña, Piiii, 1968.

Umberto Peña maintained his links with Casa for more than twenty years, in a creator-entity relationship that may be considered one of the most fruitful in the history of Cuban design, perhaps only to be compared with that of Eduardo Muñoz Bachs and his posters with ICAIC. With the large number of media designed by him, Peña contributed to Casa de las Américas what today we would call a corporative visual identity.

E. Muñoz Bachs, Mobile cinema, 1969

R. Martínez, Lucia, 1968

Oliva, Sao Paulo sociedad anónima, ICAIC, 1966

Bachs? Cerro pelado, ICAIC, 1966

Antonio Reboiro, Julieta de los espíritus, ICAIC, 1967

At its highest point the printing industry reached annual figures of 700 titles and 50 million copies, in a country with a population of around 7 million. The number of newspapers had decreased but the magazines proliferated and the new publishing houses created a varied range of book collections. The poster production shot up tremendously, with the largest part in terms of figures concentrated in three entities: ICAIC, COR and CNC, that is, film, political propaganda and cultural promotion posters (excluding movies).

These political posters presented the idea in novel forms. Either assimilating autoctonous forms as in the anonymous poster below:

International week of solidarity with Africa, 1968, OSPAAL

Felix Beltrán, Freedom for Angela Davis, 1971
Or as in this vulture-like Nixon, with an obvious influence of Jan Lenika:
René Mederos, Nixon,  OSPAAAL, 1971

By way of example it can be said that when ICAIC celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1979, an exhibition was organized with the impressive title 1000 Cuban Film Posters (oddly, the most represented years were the final ones of the 65-75 decade: 1974 with 171 pieces and 1975 with 125; as to the authors, 284 posters by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs were selected). In lack of advertising, there was an increase of public welfare campaigns in which new media such as city billboards and portfolios remarkably grew in importance.

Raúl Martínez for ICAIC, 1968

Although for many years Cuba was an isolated country and the change that took place in these years had endogenous foundations, external influences should not be ignored. In 1964 Tadeusz Jodlowski, professor at the Higher Academy of Fine Arts of Warsaw traveled to Cuba to give a course to the CNC designers. This first direct meeting with the Polish school of design –so different from the U.S. aesthetic codes in vogue in Cuba since the ‘50s– was useful for the young local creators.

Elena Serrano, Che, 1967

What are the influences of the Cuban poster?

Fangor Wojciech, Bezkresne horyzonty, Horizons sans fin, 1958

 Franciszek Starowieyski, Kochanek, Lekki bol, Harold Pinter, 1970

Thomas Swierzy, Jimi Hendrix, 1973

Wes Wilson, mid 1960's

Umberto Peña, Damas, 1966

Alfredo Rostgaard, Cimarron, ICAIC, 1969

Clary (Clara García), Las secretas intenciones, ICAIC, 1970

Bachs, Dos almas en pugna, ICAIC, 1973

 Raul Martinez, Fidel, ICAIC, 1968

Luis Vega, El dominio del fuego, OSPAAL, 1972

Bachs, Siete novias para un soldado, ICAIC, 1973

Bachs, Cines móviles en la escuela rural, ICAIC, 1973

René Azcuy, Besos robados, ICAIC, 1970

Jan Sawka

Mr. Sawka studied art, printmaking and architecture during a period of political ferment throughout Eastern Europe, including the widespread student protests throughout Poland in 1968 that set off a brutal government crackdown on dissidents.

His poster designs for avant-garde theater groups became well known for their wordplay and their deadpan style, in which symbols of protest were often stitched into the graphics.

By the mid-'70s, foreign art critics had begun noticing the black humor in his work and raving about his subtle style of anti-authoritarianism.

what's the Sawka's secret?

1- go against the grain (political, social),
2- use hand held typeface,
3- the image says it all,
4- humor drives the design,

Awards: 1975 Oscar de la Peinture in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France for painting and the Gold Medal at the 1978 Warsaw Poster Biennial. In 1981, when martial law was imposed in Poland, the AFL-CIO sponsored a bipartisan fundraiser that sold Sawka's Solidarity poster in the millions to provide immediate support to the besieged Solidarity movement. In 1989, Sawka designed a 10-story tall set for The Grateful Dead's 25th Anniversary tour. In 1993, he created his first full multi-media spectacle, "The Eyes" in Japan. This was the beginning of his collaboration with Japanese studios and corporations, which includes the creation of high-tech interactive sculptures and monumental installations, as well as designs for full-scale monumental architecture. Sawka designed "The Tower of Light Cultural Complex" for Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., presented to the Royal Family in 1996.

Teresa Żarnower

Teresa Żarnower (1895-1950) was Mieczysław Szczuka’s partner in both life and art. She belonged to the interwar period with its constructivist avant-garde environment and is considered a pioneer of this trend in Poland. She was a co-creator of the magazine Blok

In her posters and photomontages she combined her political engagement and picks of the avant-garde. Żarnower also designed covers for left-wing publications, including Vladimir Mayakovsky’s Poems (1927), which remains a classical example of modern cover design. She combined the author’s photograph with vertical and horizontal divisions. Żarnower’s most recognised poster is probably the parliamentary election campaign poster designed for Worker-Peasant Unity (1928), which shows the punishing fist of the workers’ society hitting the wall of a prison.

Wiktor Górka

Wiktor Górka (1922-2004) was one of the founders of the Polish poster school, whose most famous work is the poster design for the cult film Cabaret (1973) directed by Bob Fosse with a memorable performance by Liza Minelli.

The poster depicts cabaret dancers’ legs in black stockings as well as Joel Grey’s face in daring makeup, which together form the shape of a swastika. In 1970, Górka went to Havana with a group of Polish artists to conduct design workshops in Cuba.

What's Gorka's touch?

1- make it big
2- pop influence,
3- cartoonish humor,
3- striking color,
4- center symmetry,

Mieczysław Szczuka (the influence of neue typographie)

 Mieczysław Szczuka (1989-1927) is one of the top representatives of the Polish avant-garde of the 1920s, for whom functional art was key. He did very fine photomontages. He designed posters and campaign materials for the Polish Communist party.

Along with his life partner and co-worker, Teresa Żarnower, they produced Blok magazine (initially with the assistance of Władysław Strzemiński and Henryk Stażewski), which initiated the era of functional printing (the idea came from Strzemiński – he proclaimed that the concept of a graphic layout should be equivalent to a literary construction, a visualisation of an idea).

Their most acclaimed work, executed in the spirit of their new typography, was the graphic design for Anatol Stern’s poem Europa (1929).

Jan Lenica's "Janco The New Musician"

Jan Lenica's weird visions

Jan Lenica (1928-2002) is a master of the so-called "slime-and-gore" period of the Polish poster. Click for Polanski's Repulsion (above), here.

Lenica's art was associated with film and theater. He studied in the Faculty of Architecture at the Poznań Technical University. 

Lenica worked in satirical cartoon drawing, illustration, graphic art and graphic design, exhibition design, scenography, posters, animated films. 

Lenica's touch: 

1- surreal images, 
2- dark humor, 
3- absurd, 
4- dadaist photomontage. 

Major awards: National Exhibition of Illustration, Posters and Small Format Graphics, Warsaw, 1955, first prize; Film Poster Exhibition, Warsaw 1956, Central Film Office prize; Toulouse-Lautrec Grand Prix, Versailles 1961; International Film Poster Exhibition, Karlove Vary 1962, first and third prizes, International Poster Biennale, Warsaw 1966, gold Medal; International Tourism Poster Exhibition, Catania, 1971, Gold Medal; Prix Jules Cheret, France 1985.

Franciszek Starowieyski's superrealism

Franciszek Starowieyski (b. 1930) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. He works in graphic design, drawing, theater, television scenography, murals and posters. He was the originator of the so-called "Theater of Drawing." 

No standard typeface either, in the school of Tomaszewski. See how he favors calligraphy over typeface. Are they not related? 

Major Awards: International Biennale of the Arts, Sao Paulo 1973, award; Cannes Film Festival 1974, film poster award; International Poster Biennale, Warsaw, Silver Medal 1974, 1978; International Film Festival, Chicago, film poster Gold Plaque 1979, film poster competition Silver Hugo 1982.

What's Starowieysk's style? 

1- use of fine calligraphy,  
2- theatricality, 
3- female bodies & the skull, 
3- ornamental motifs.

Starowieyski's style, often called "superrealism" (influenced by trends in animation in the late 1960's and early 1970's from artists René Laloux and Roland Torpor) explores violence, dark humor and alien themes.