Thursday, September 29, 2011

Style splitting for the Final Exam: Part One

An easy style to identify is Plakatstil meaning "poster style" . Look for flat background color and a dominant stylized product with the name of the product written out. This style originated in Germany so often the text will be often be in German. There were many posters done during the war for both sides and other than selling products this is a common theme.

Art Deco was a wildly popular geometric style that went beyond graphics to typography, buildings [the Chrysler building], furniture, jewelry and product design. Known for it's zig-zag line, geometric shapes, and the machine aesthetic, in these works you will see streamlining and converging lines. Eclecticism and international motifs such as Assyrian and American Indian were incorporated into designs. A.M. Cassandre is perhaps the most famous art deco designer and many of his works are travel posters written in French. To see lots of Art Deco architecture head for Miami.

Suprematism: Non-representational. pure colors, basic geometric shapes, text looks Russian, often uses red and black on a beige colored background.

Constructivism characteristics include: Geometric shapes, asymmetry,diagonal lines and the text looks Russian, often uses red and black on a beige colored background.
A primary difference would be the first is non-representational [abstract geometric shapes] and the second has recognizable images.

De Stijl is noted for it's use of primary colors [red, yellow, blue] with neutrals [black, white and gray] and horizontal and vertical perpendicular lines. Launched in the Netherlands the movement included graphics, architecture and furniture.

The most important school of graphic design in history, the Bauhaus aimed to deliver a message and communicate. Function was more important than decoration and Jan Tschichold and others worked with the new typography. It was sans serif and asymmetrical. Purity, clarity and simplicity were goals and new approaches to photography included extreme scale contrasts, bird's eye and worm's eye photography. Montage was another method used and you can often easily identify these works as they have text that reads Bauhaus. Many pieces were promotional for the school as they produced graphic design, architecture, furniture and product design bringing a new unity of art and technology.

The Modern Movement in America has a Bauhaus influence but American content. Text will be written in English and have American themes. It can also be identified in the graphics created for the WPA or Works Progress Administration an effort to put unemployed artists to work during the depression. If you find a poster with text for a governmental program or agency such as the Rural Electrification Administration or Office of Emergency Management you are most likely in the right category.

The ITS or International Typographic Style originated in Switzerland and was incredibly popular with a long life span. Asymmetry, flush left/ragged right layouts and sans serif letters with bold words for emphasis are clues. Designs were reductive, objective with no superfluous decoration. The use of grids in the placement of images and text were key to
the style.

Style splitting for the Final Exam part 2

Mixing New York school up with conceptual image is easy to do. Look for the importance of shape as in 19-19, 19-5, 19-6, 19-20 in your bookplates in chapter 19. Search for that unexpected surprise such as the barbed wire in Paul Rand's Direction cover 19-1 or the flames in Saul Bass's 19-22. Content is American here unlike the conceptual image that could be American,
Polish, German or Cuban. If it is Polish, German or Cuban it is conceptual art.

Uniquely American approach with origins in European modernism
Playful, visually dynamic and unexpected
Analyze communications content-reduce to symbolic essence
Use of shape
Asymmetrical balance

This style is it a logotype or pictograph...olympic signage then you are in the right category. 20-14 and 20-46 are examples of the logo and pictograph.

Corporate identity
Logotypes and identities
Pictograph signage for Olympics and transportation

This category is most often confused with the New York School. A way to differentiate the two is that conceptual images are closer to surrealism with the familiar in an unfamiliar setting. New York school relies more on shape and unexpected surprises. Splitting these two styles is most likely your biggest challenge. American, Polish, German and Cuban based these can help you split hairs. Study 21-26, 21-42 and 21-58 and see how they all put the familiar in an unfamiliar setting.

Conceptual Image
Narrative information communicated with ideas and concepts
Familiar in an unfamiliar setting
Scale changes/substitution/visual puns and play

The larger category Postmodern Design/Digital Revolution will be used to describe visual images that include deconstruction,
new wave, retro/vernacular and digital era. If the image looks like it was created on a computer then you are looking at this period. The only subcategory of visuals that might fool you is retro [as it is meant to reference past styles]. Check out these images on 481-7 and look carefully at them. For example 23-40 where Paula Scher re-invents a famous Herbert Matter poster to sell swatch watches.

For the written part of the exam you should print out these characteristics.
Post Modern Design/Deconstruction
Broke with international typographic style communications
Communicated emotional qualities with expressive typography
Uses computers to generate layouts/typography

New Wave Typography
Stair stepped rules
Some evidence of grid underlying organization
Layering, overlapping [simultaneity]

Eclectic modernist European design of first half of century
Disrespect for proper rules of typography-placed in new ways
Kinky mannered type of 20s/30s