Thursday, April 5, 2018

Alex Liberman, Vogue cover, 1950

Dear class, this is what we have so far: BAUHAUS contribution and the New York School of the 1950s-1960s (immediately following the WWII).

These emigres come from the diverse avant-garde traditions in Europe, which is to say, in terms of graphic design, dada poster, new typography, Bauhaus ideals, etc. Let's divide this group of star designers:

A. M. Cassandre: comes from Surrealism and Cubism and contributes to the Art Deco style, 1930s-1950s.
Alex Brodovitch: comes from Surrealism and Art Deco, to contribute to the New York School with his cosmopolitan style of female elegance, 1950s-1960s. Brodovitch is the BAZAAR side of the New York School (scroll down the link to see Bazaar covers by Brodovitch).
Joseph Binder: comes from Art Deco Plakatstil and Surrealism, his contribution in the US is the industry design (train, plane, ship).
Piet Zwart: comes from Constructivism, New Typography and De Stijl (Netherlands), his contributions is typotechture (typeface + architecture), i.e., strong diagonals, primary colors, use of scale, varying typefaces, and careful asymmetry.
Alex Liberman: comes from Cubo-Futurism, Surrealism and and theater design, Liberman is the VOGUE side of the New York School. In addition he was an accomplished sculptor.

(click on the links, these are good informative sites).

on a different note: my arts&crafts-revival manifesto for design.

go ahead,


yuting cheng said...

Neo-Plasticism, articulated most completely by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, relied on the most basic elements of painting such as color, line, and form to convey universal and absolute truths. Mondrian advocated for the use of austere geometry and color to create asymmetrical but balanced compositions that conveyed the harmony underlying reality. As with many avant-gardes styles of the early twentieth century, a utopian vision of society underlay Neo-Plastic theory. Embracing the elemental forms of composition and the merging of painting and architecture, Neo-Plasticism strove to transform society by changing the way people saw and experienced their environment. Instead of representations of natural forms, Neo-Plasticism relied on the relationships between line and color to emulate the opposing forces that structured nature and reality. Neo-Plastic compositions juxtapose horizontal and vertical lines along with the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue against the non-colors of black, white, and grey to produce timeless balance. Neo-Plasticism abolished the figure-ground dichotomy by using an irregular grid structure that resisted arranging the pictorial elements into a hierarchy. This all-over composition created a unity that Mondrian felt underscored the disharmony of the surrounding environment.

yuting cheng said...

Piet Mondrian, one of the founders of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl, is recognized for the purity of his abstractions and methodical practice by which he arrived at them. He radically simplified the elements of his paintings to reflect what he saw as the spiritual order underlying the visible world, creating a clear, universal aesthetic language within his canvases. In his best known paintings from the 1920s, Mondrian reduced his shapes to lines and rectangles and his palette to fundamental basics pushing past references to the outside world toward pure abstraction. His use of asymmetrical balance and a simplified pictorial vocabulary were crucial in the development of modern art, and his iconic abstract works remain influential in design and familiar in popular culture to this day. A theorist and writer, Mondrian believed that art reflected the underlying spirituality of nature. He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe. Mondrian's development of Neo-Plasticism became one of the key documents of abstract art. In the movement he detailed his vision of artistic expression in which "plasticism" referred to the action of forms and colors on the surface of the canvas as a new method for representing modern reality.

yuting cheng said...

The Bauhaus was the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century, one whose approach to teaching, and understanding art's relationship to society and technology, had a major impact both in Europe and the United States long after it closed. It was shaped by the 19th and early 20th centuries trends such as Arts and Crafts movement, which had sought to level the distinction between fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing. This is reflected in the romantic medievalism of the school's early years, in which it pictured itself as a kind of medieval crafts guild. But in the mid 1920s the medievalism gave way to a stress on uniting art and industrial design, and it was this which ultimately proved to be its most original and important achievement. The motivations behind the creation of the Bauhaus lay in the 19th century, in anxieties about the soullessness of manufacturing and its products, and in fears about art's loss of purpose in society. Creativity and manufacturing were drifting apart, and the Bauhaus aimed to unite them once again, rejuvenating design for everyday life. Although the Bauhaus abandoned much of the ethos of the old academic tradition of fine art education, it maintained a stress on intellectual and theoretical pursuits, and linked these to an emphasis on practical skills, crafts and techniques that was more reminiscent of the medieval guild system.

Anonymous said...

Our last lecture made me think particularly about the intersection between modern art and fashion. For example Mondrian’s famous De Stijl compositions, did not just influence modern art, but were absorbed into popular fashion and continue to reemerge as trendy every so often. I have a purse that was my grandmother’s that she wore in the 60s when Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection was flourishing. I still wear the purse today and am frequently complimented on it. Louis Vuitton is currently producing a line of purses that recycle modern art compositions ( link: ). To an extent, I wonder if our generation is capable of producing original content, or whether we have resorted to endlessly recycling previous generations' material. Even if this is the case, it’s not necessarily problematic, but rather fascinating to consider the contrast between the early 20th century’s emphasis on innovation, and the early 21st century’s emphasis on reverence for the past.

-Abbie Auster

Anonymous said...

A. M. Cassandre creates amazing illusions with his artwork. It appears as if he purposely arranges pieces to fill only what is necessary, while leaving the rest in the hands of the viewer’s imagination. The Gestalt-esque illusionary techniques he uses seem to manipulate and elicit this imagination. Purposely utilizing reification, the creationist aspect of perception, Cassandre allows the viewer to finish the art piece him(or her)self . I think this creates an ambiance of mystery and creativity that continues throughout his work, from his BAZAAR posters to later personal paintings. In addition, the juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity can evoke a variety of perspectives from his viewers. Maybe Cassandre is alluding towards a concept of free will, guiding the viewer to choose their own perspective from those which he lays out. This choice can bring one’s focus to engage with the complexity, simplicity or some merge in between. Branching off of that starting point, the viewer controls the story they imagine when viewing the piece - potentially projecting their emotional state onto Cassandre’s artwork.

-Ryan Berkun

Anonymous said...

I had never considered the influence of Surrealism on fashion photography seen in the likes of Liberman and its surrealist tendencies. The intricate detailing and displacement of different forms remind me of the work of Magritte and other illusionary techniques used by the Surrealists. All of his work uses asymmetrical spacing and dynamic imagery through elegant lines and attention to colour schemes (the cover uses complementary colours)

The elements used help to de-clutter what people see, which contrasts with the growing consumer society at the time. The works however still give a feeling of dynamism, which I think is evident in a lot of his other work for Vogue via his breaking pages with angular lines and using repetitive formats.

It is also evident that there is a transition for graphic designers from employees to professionals who helped shape the huge elements in communication for major publications and not just the image alone

- Gemma Finegold

Anonymous said...

Out of the group of star designers, Alexander Liberman caught my attention. I’ve seen his artwork in Miami, specifically in the FIU campus, and we have similar artwork in our own campus. He was considered to be a revolutionary minimalist artist, focusing on paintings and sculptures. His work gave insight into his beliefs about celestial motion, the movement of the human eye, and human sexuality. Liberman had a fascination with American industrialization and modernization that led to the creation of his famous steel sculptures and geometric paintings. Not only was he a great artist, he was very important in the fashion and journalism industries. Liberman brought a modern sensibility to fashion journalism, which still has a lasting effect. He helped changed the way American women saw themselves. He wanted to embolden design and break away from artifice. He was a true modernist. There was no signature look to Liberman’s works. The Liberman style was protean and infinitely renewable. He was always ahead of everyone else in his field, and this was reflected in the magazines he directed.

- Chris Green

sydney shugarman said...

I have always been very intrigued with vogue designs and magazine cover designs. I never knew much about the one of the guys behind vogue. Alexander Liberman is known as a modern man, and still remind sa controversial figure after his death. Personally, I really enjoy the art and graphics of the vogue cover designs from the mid 90s. What makes vogue constantly stand out from other magazines is the fact they always have a unique cover and it makes people look at is if it was a piece of art. I have the Vogue 1950 magazine cover actually hung up in my room. I have always been very found of vogue work and it has inspired me in my current graphic design work. The thing I love the most is how they use a variety mix media to create the covers and its not so boring to look at with a whole bunch of words, compared to other magazine covers.