Constructivism first emerged as an artistic practice in the 1920s after the Russian revolution. The diverse experiences of the revolution ensured the development of constructivism due to the experience is agitation, understanding artist affairs and providing a revolutionary ideology which would be used to charge their artwork. constructivism was initially concerned with three dimensional structures. However, during the civil war constructivist artist created work such as, agitational posters which became one of the dominant art forms of constructivism for many constructivists.
Gustav Klutsis was one of the pioneers of Soviet agitprop graphic design, particularly prominent for his revolutionary use of the medium of photomontage to create political posters, book designs, newspaper and magazine illustrations. One of his works that I am interested in his first photocollage Dynamic City, where photography was used as an element of construction and illustration. In 1920 Klutsis joined the Communist party; his works around this time set out to change the logic of political thought and propaganda into Suprematism form, often using documentary images of Lenin, Trotsky, and eventually Stalin in his radical poster designs.
Gustav Klutsis, 'The Dynamic city' (1919)
Within this piece the artist has used a series of rectangular and cuboid shapes which jut out from a diagonal and break from the edges of the background circle which is central within the picture plane. klutsis' use of photographs creates a static and isolated shot, which is brought to life by the protusions of what appears to be three dimentional elements, such as buildings. Photomontaging allows the viewer to visualize unfolding themes of the given subject, creating a connection between political slogans and creating politically chanrged works. The artist has used photographs of American skyscrapers which are the rectangular shapes that the viewer, on closer inspection, can see the detail and the multitude of windows, creating the composition of his dynamic city. He also added phtotographs of workmen at the ends of the buildings. The symbolism of this deliberate placement suggests to the viewer that this is a flying city with its own gravity, which enables the men to stand upsidedown. Klutsis' style was to mix the familiar with the seemingly impossible to make the unfamiliar less improbable.
Another artist I am interested in is Alexander Rodchenko. He was brought up in Kazan and attended the Art school there where he was heavily influenced by art nouveau and Beardsly. in 1914 he attended futurist meetings in Kazan, he then moved to Moscow and started in a graphics department which didn't last long due to his dis engangement witht the teaching. between 1915-16 he became aquainted with the moscow avant garde, contributing to contemporary painting exhibitions and cubist collages. In 1920 he became a co-founder of the First Working Group of Constructivists.
Alexander Rodchenko, 'Crisis' (1923)
Rodchenko has also used photomontage for this piece which is characterised by the juxtaposing of images. Within this piece the viewer can see people falling from two aeroplanes onto a deteriorating urban landscape. The political and social connotations evident within this piece was often very overt within this artists work, for him advertising was a means of directly engaging in agiprop; "In every military victory, in every economic success 9/10 is the result of the skill and power of our agitation. Advertising is industrial, commercial agitation." It is clear that Rodchenko believed that his work was fulfilling its purpose too spread the propaganda through the country.
Overall, comparing these two posters I can see many similarities in terms or colour palette and the use of shapes overlapping one another to created a distorted image. However, I also think that in term of their approach to propaganda each artist uses a different technique. For example, Rochenko is much more obvious with his agitation and created quite a graphic piece as the figures are seen falling to their death into a state of unrest. Where as, Klutsis advocates the rejection of painting and was actively involved in making production art, such as multimedia agitprop kiosks to be installed on the streets of Moscow, integrating radio-orators, film screens, and newsprint displays. Similarly though both artists used photo montaging which facilitated a new method for producing essentially militant posters. It is a characteristic feature that the poster surface is articulated and defined by the political content of the presented materials rather than by aesthetic quality.
Art Nouveau is an artistic movement which began in the middle of the 19th century and continues to influences art styles in the present day. The movements name has also been referred too as; "Jugendstil", "Nieuwe Kunst", and "Modern style", but the term Art Nouveau is directly translated from French into English as, "New Art". This was due to the freshness and excitement brought about by the characteristic elements, such as the stylized form which took a lot of inspiration from nature and geometry. With a clear emphasis on the use of flowing line, which brings a sense of melody and romanticism to the works. Many of the figures who appeared within Art Nouveau were elongated feminine forms, dressed in long flowing robes giving them a fairy like presence and a sense of purity, captured through the crisp use of line.
No single architect, designer or artist epitomized the 'New Art' style, it was the response from multiple creators that caused Art Nouveau to have such a diverse and complex interpretation. The myriad of influences and interpretations from across Europe had the single purpose of defeating the established order within the applied and fine arts. A H Mackmurdo, who was known for his part in the Arts and Crafts movement, had a significant influence on the style of Art Nouveau by providing insight into the technical implementation of design. Mackmurdo's designs were very different in comparison to many European artists of his time. Many elements established him as an expert at his craft, firstly his use of simple lines and asymmetrical compositions, which were boldly rendered in black and white. As well as, his use of natural imagery and the way he manipulated form creating an abstract appearance. One of his most famous pieces was the Chair back (1883), which came before the Fin-de-siècle decorative movement, is renowned as a pivotal Art Nouveau influence due to the row of slender tendrils that capture movement within such a stationary object.
Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, Chair, c. (1883)
Art Nouveau was prevalent throughout Europe, but especially in Glasgow, Vienna, Madrid and Nancy. Charles Rennie Mackintosh dominated the new art movement within the 1900s, as a young architect he introduced a highly distinctive style of decorative aesthetic into his building designs and their interiors. Which were decorated with roses, apple pips, trees and tulips. However, his way of working was mostly inspired by that of geometry, hence the use of bold outlines and box- line shapes, which became highly recognised within Art Nouveau houses and highly influenced the style of ornamentation in Vienna. Art Nouveau in Vienna was most popularly characterised by the artists Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffman, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Gustav Klimt. Gustav Klimt had one of the most influential styles within Vienna, using surface decoration, flowering curves and rich ornamentation. He used symbolic feminine imagery and is best known for his portraits of young women stood in front of highly decorated backgrounds. However, in Spain Gaudi is the most well known artist within Art Nouveau, taking the majority of his influences from nature he began to blend innovative structures with decorative effects. His most celebrated buildings take on the personification of living organisms with the smooth rise and fall of their walls, as in his opinion there are no straight lines in nature. Finally in Paris, more specifically Nancy, which was the area most caught up in Art Nouveau, the influential artists were Emile Galle and Louis Majorelle. Emile Galle, who became popular in 1880s, took inspiration from Japonisme which was closely linked to nature. He was passionate about the use of nature and it was his primary focus within his work and the majority of Art Nouveau furniture produced in Nancy incorporated nature, such as flowers, dragon flies and was centralised around a decorative theme. Galle spearheaded the drive for change, he worked in glass, jewellery, ceramics and furniture making all the while incorporating his decorative new art style into all of his works,
Overall, it is believed that Art Nouveau suffered in popularity because it was promoted in large parts by brilliant artists and designers scattered across Europe. Meaning its momentum as a movement was fuelled more by the achievements of the independent artist, rather than the success of the style as a whole. However, I find that Art Nouveau was a most interesting movement, which inspired such a wide variety of art styles, spread across Europe. In Glasgow and Vienna the style was more serious and restrained, but in Nancy and Spain there was an enthusiasm for the natural which was captured in every element, but each style was an act of protest against the traditional and the ordinary.
Japonism is the study of Japanese art, which was very influential on Europe during the 19th and 20th century. European artists learned a variety of artistic methods from Japan. For example, using unusual compositions and placing cut-off objects in the foreground of their work. Many well-known artists became passionate about Japonism and implemented the style within their own works, some copying directly from original Japanese art and others using the techniques and symbolism to highlight their interest in the style.
It is thought by many that Japanese art was first introduced to Viennese society by Klimt and the Secessionists through their sixth exhibition, which devoted entirely to its aesthetics. Klimt was an avid collector of East Asian art objects, for example, woodcuts, Noh masks, ceramics, and textile designs. Many of these objects inspired his works and there design principles greatly influenced Klimt’s approach to drawing and became an integral part of his style. In the artworks pictured below, there are many visual similarities between Klimt's portrait and Eizan's. For example a kimono, which is a well-known piece of Japanese clothing, is present within both pieces and is strongly enhanced through the use of colour and detailed backgrounds.
Gustav Klimt, "Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi", 1913-1914 (left). Kikukawa Eizan, "Courtesan of the Ogivia Brothel", 1810-18-15 (right).
Though Ukiyo-e prints were extraordinarily popular with European artists and art lovers alike, Claude Monet had collected an impressive, range of woodblock prints and was greatly inspired by the Japonism art style, subject matter, perspective, and composition. Using distinctively dappled brushstrokes, and characteristically colorful range of tones, which focused on light, the French artist created compositions that captured the essence of the movement, which was influenced through the Japanese art style. The central compositon of Klimts work has been so obviously inspired by Hokusai. While many artists working with paper try to create realistic senses of perspective, those specializing in woodblock prints were less concerned with depth and dimensionality. Instead, they favored strong shapes, graphic designs, and bold lines. This approach can be seen within both pieces, conveying that Klimt has experimented with a different approach to his positioning of objects.
Monet, "The Japanese (the water lily pond)", 1897-1899 (left). Hokusai, "Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa", 1823 (right)
Overall, I have found that Japonism and Japanese artists deserve more credit in the part they played in advancing the development of modern art, especially in terms of impressionism, changing the way that artist experimented within their own work and how they presented it to the viewer.
Comic book page
Our very first project of first year illustration was to create a comic book page from the line of a song. However, there was a twist because this song had been translated 3 different times in order to create a random line. The line I was given was ‘This is the latest strike’, which lead to my final outcome of 3 animals running from a Forrest fire which had been caused by a lightning strike. I used coloured pencils for this project, but I also experimented with changing the colours by separating the layers on photoshop and changing how I printed using CMYK. I really have really enjoyed this project and felt good to see my work along side my peers in the final comic book.
History of Art and Design
The history of Vans and what mine say about me
In the course of todays History of Art and Design lecture we discussed the idea of style, how we make conscious choices about what we wear everyday and what our clothes tell other people about us. The item of clothing that I have chosen to focus on are my Sk8 Hi Vans, which I think give people a glance into what type of person I am.
Vans were first founded in 1966 by the brothers Paul and James Van Doren, with two other partners, Gordon Lee and Serge Delia. Opening 'The Van Doren Rubber Company’ was how one of the most popular shoes of the 21st century came to be, starting life as a simple canvas deck shoe with hardened rubber soles. The range of choice, in terms of style and colour, that the company offered helped them stand out from other competitors of the time. However, it was the rubber waffle sole that offered grip and traction which made Vans such a desirable choice, especially for skate-boarders. A group of skaters that had particular impact on the popularity of the vans brand were the Z-boys. For example, The van, now known as the Era, with a padded collar and different colour combinations, was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, both members of the Z-boys. This made it the shoe of choice for a generation of skateboarders. In 1997 two new styles of vans were released, the 'Old Skool', which had the iconic 'jazz stripe' on the side and the 'Slip on' which was aimed at skate-boarders and BMX riders, further extending itself to a wider area of consumers. In 1978 the Sk8 Hi was released, featuring the side stripe with an above the ankle reach. The idea behind the higher shoe design was innovated to protect the skate-boarders bones from their own board and brought a new flare to the skate park.
The Sk8 Hi vans are my favourite type of shoe and the item of clothing which most reflects my personality because of their practical design and the intensity of colour they encapsulate. My vans are red with blue panels and white details with a checkerboard print on the sole. I think the bold colours of my shoes show that I am confident and unafraid of standing out. They However, I do not skate-board, which is why the shoes were originally designed, conveying that they have been adapted to fit the fashion industry. This ensures that they never become a redundant shoe style, as they have filtered into the fashion choices of many, including my own.
Second year Illustration student at Cumbria University.