Kurt Schwitters was certainly the odd man out of German Dada. He lived, not in Berlin like the others, but in Hanover where he created a self-enclosed world from his many varied artistic outpourings. At a fairly early stage he was seen by the more politically motivated Dadaists as too petit bourgeois for those revolutionary times, but Schwitters was always his own man and thrived in this relative isolation. As he was not an accepted Dadaist, he started to call himself and his artistic output “Merz” (from a cut-up fragment of newspaper that had originally read “Kommerz”.)
Whereas the raw material of most of the Dada montage of the times was photographic and relevant, Schwitters took his from the streets. The montages, collages and assemblages that he constructed from all this gathered refuse have an extraordinary integrity of vision, but they are certainly not in any way political, and it is easy to understand how Schwitters’ comfortable artistic sensibility may have alienated the likes of Heartfield and Grosz.
The centre of the Schwitters’ universe was his house in Hanover, and as of 1923, possibly influenced by the architectural concerns of Russian Constructivists like El Lissitzky, he began to construct his ultimate work of art. This began as disparate pieces of collage and assemblages round the studio walls, which over time were connected by string, then wire, then wood, and finally plastered wood. His “Merzbau” gradually took over the downstairs and when it required more space for expansion, Schwitters cut a hole in the ceiling and gave notice to his upstairs lodgers. Into the individual “grottos” of the Merzbau Schwitters placed a bizarre collection of objects gathered from his friends and fellow artists, anything from a stolen sock to a broken pencil.
Like most German artists, Schwitters was driven out of Germany by the Nazis, and after a spell in Norway, he came to live in the English Lake District where he died in 1948. The original Hanover Merzbau having been destroyed by allied bombing in 1943, he set about making his final work on the wall of a barn at Ambleside. This has now been purchased by Newcastle University and was lovingly transferred to a gallery there where it can still be seen.
April Greiman (born 1948) is a contemporary designer. “Recognized as one of the first designers to embrace computer technology as a design tool, Greiman is also credited, along with early collaborator Jayme Odgers, with establishing the ‘New Wave’ design style in the US during the late 70s and early 80s.”
Presently, she heads Los Angeles-based design consultancy Made in Space. “An insistent innovator, April Greiman works at the border zone of the discipline labeled graphic design, at the intersections of video, computer graphics, architecture and environment. She’s interested in altering our perceptions of the relationship between two- and three-dimensional space. On the printed page she removes all the coordinates that are normally used to locate the viewer and instead launches the viewer headlong into deep space and saturated color. With buildings, she renders solid walls diaphanous through her application of video imagery in oil paint.”
Greiman first studied graphic design in her undergraduate education at the Kansas City Art Institute, from 1966-1970. Her work further evolved from her 1970-1971 graduate education at the Allgemeine Künstgewerberschule Basel, now known as the Basel School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung Basel) in Basel, Switzerland. As a student of Armin Hofmann andWolfgang Weingart, Greiman was not only influenced by the International Style, but also by Weingart’s introduction to the style later to become known as New Wave, an aesthetic less reliant on the Modernist heritage. “The Basel school’s faculty and graduates began to come to the U.S. in the mid 1960s, with a real impact realized in the early 1970s when young American graphic designers ‘in the know’ began to migrate to Basel for postgraduate training in graphic design. By the mid 1970s some of this complexity began to embellish basic American “Swiss” graphic design in the form of bars and rules and playful mixing of type sizes, weights and faces in an essentially formalist agenda.”
Greiman moved to Los Angeles in 1976, establishing the multi-disciplinary practice which has survived to this day in its current incarnation and name as Made in Space. Proceeding the mid-80s, designers avidly avoided computers and digitalization, viewing them as challenges to the crispness of the International Style. However, Greiman did not feel that this should be a limitation; rather, she exploited pixelation and other “errors” in digitization as part of digital art.
She has long taught, and continues to do so to this day – currently, at the Academy of Art University, Woodbury University, and The Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc). In 1982 April Greiman became head of the design department at the California Institute of the Arts.”In 1984 she lobbied successfully to change the department name to Visual Communications, feeling that the term “graphic design” would prove too limiting to future designers. In that year, with her business booming, she decided to switch gears and become a student rather than an educator, to study the effect of technology on her own work. She returned to full-time practice and acquired her first Macintosh.” She was later to take the Grand Prize in Mac World’s First Macintosh Masters in Art Competition.
“An early adopter of the Macintosh computer, in 1986 Greiman used its rudimentary capabilities to create an issue of the journal Design Quarterly that has since become one of the key staging posts in the evolution of graphic design.” This notable issue, entitled Does it make sense? was edited by Mildred Friedman and published by the Walker Art Center. “She re-imagined the magazine as a poster that folded out to almost three-by-six feet. It contained a life-size, MacVision-generated image of her outstretched naked body adorned with symbolic images and text— a provocative gesture which emphatically countered the objective, rational and masculine tendencies of modernist design. Ever since, Greiman has continued to pioneer new technologies and to challenge prevailing attitudes toward graphic design. One of her most recent laboratories for experimentation is Miracle Manor, a desert spa retreat that she co-owns with (her husband) architect Michael Rotondi, and which amply showcases her talent for applying texture, color and materials to 3-dimensional space as well as her sensitivity to a building’s potential to resonate with its natural landscape.”
In 1995, the U.S. Postage Service launched a stamp designed by Greiman to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Women’s Voting Rights). In 2006, the Pasadena Museum of California Art mounted a one-woman show of her digital photography entitled: Drive-by Shooting (www.drive-byshooting.com). She was also recently in the group show at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, in a major exhibition ‘Elle@Centre Pompidou. That exhibition was self-promoted as one, where “for the first time in the world, a museum will be displaying the feminine side of its own collections. In 2007, Greiman completed her largest single work to date: a public art mural, Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice, that spans 7 stories of two building facades marking the entrance to the Wilshire Vermont Metro Station in Los Angeles.”
April is a recipient of the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal for lifetime achievement. She has received 3 honorary doctorates: Kansas City Art Institute (2001); Lesley University, The Art Institute of Boston (2002); Academy of Art University (2003).
The work of Bristol artist and illustrator Paul Farrell has been inspired by his love for nature and a passionate interest in the graphic arts. Before concentrating on a career as an artist, Paul had worked as a graphic designer in London for 25 years. Prior to that, he successfully completed an art foundation course at Bristol Polytechnic in 1985, and then went on to graduate at Middlesex Polytechnic in 1988 with a BA Honours degree in Graphic Design.
Paul’s strong graphic style and design background is evident in his work. His interest in visually communicating an object clearly and simply is his main skill. Silhouettes, colour and simple shapes are used to help identify the subject.
A knowledge of flora and fauna have always been a big part of Paul’s life and have developed into the key subject matter for his work, be it the striking silhouette of a dead tree, the prints of a mammal or the markings of a bird’s plumage.
Colour is equally important and Paul devotes much of his time sourcing colours and creating dynamic combinations. Naming each image is also key and helps evoke the beauty and character of every piece of work.
His collection of work continues to develop with private and public commissions. He is represented at major art galleries and shops throughout the British Isles including the Tate Modern. Recent highlights have included a commission with Ikea and Pedlars, exhibiting at The Affordable Art Fair in Bristol, the London Design Festival and featuring on Channel 4’s Grand Designs. This past year has seen Paul’s work featured in many publications including Wallpaper, World of Interiors and Living Etc. He has also had several successful solo shows in London and Bristol.
Born Milton Ernest Rauschenberg in 1925 in Texas, Robert Rauschenberg was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and theAcadémie Julian in Paris, France. In 1948 Rauschenberg and his wife Susan Weil decided to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under Josef Albers. Rauschenberg described Albers as influencing him to do “exactly the reverse” of what he was being taught. Rauschenberg is well-known for his “Combines” of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg’s approach was sometimes called “Neo-Dada,” a label he shared with the painter Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg’s oft-repeated quote that he wanted to work “in the gap between art and life” suggested a questioning of the distinction between art objects and everyday objects, reminiscent of the issues raised by the notorious “Fountain,” by Dada pioneer, Marcel Duchamp. At the same time, Johns’ paintings of numerals, flags, and the like, were reprising Duchamp’s message of the role of the observer in creating art’s meaning. While the Combines are both painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg also worked with photography, printmaking, papermaking, and performance. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1993. He also won a Grammy Award for his album design of ‘Talking Heads’ album, Speaking in Tongues. Rauschenberg lived and worked in New York City and on Captiva Island, Florida until his death, May 12, 2008, from heart failure.
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg ( 398 – February 3, 1468) was aGerman blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced modern book printing. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.
Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing, in around 1439, and the global inventor of the printing press. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system which allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg’s method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mould for casting type.
The use of movable type was a marked improvement on the handwritten manuscript, which was the existing method of book production in Europe, and upon woodblock printing, and revolutionized European book-making. Gutenberg’s printing technology spread rapidly throughout Europe and later the world.
Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎, Katsushika Hokusai? 1760–May 10, 1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. In his time he was Japan’s leading expert on Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831) which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s. Hokusai created the “Thirty-Six Views” both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fuji in Clear Weather, that secured Hokusai’s fame both within Japan and overseas. As historian Richard Lane concludes, “Indeed, if there is one work that made Hokusai’s name, both in Japan and abroad, it must be this monumental print-series…” While Hokusai’s work prior to this series is certainly important, it was not until this series that he gained broad recognition and left a lasting impact on the art world. It was The Great Wave print that initially received, and continues to receive, acclaim and popularity in the Western world.
Ed Fella(born 1938 in Detroit) is an artist, educator and graphic designer whose work has had an important influence on contemporary typography. He practiced professionally as a commercial artist in Detroit for 30 years before receiving an MFA in Design from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1987. He has since devoted his time to teaching at the California Institute for the Arts and his own unique self-published work which has appeared in many design publications and anthologies. In 1997 he received the Chrysler Award and in 1999 an Honorary Doctorate from CCS in Detroit. His work is in the National Design Museum and MOMA in New York. Ed has also produced many drawn sketchbooks, which can be viewed on his personal website. His work contains a grid-less typography.Fellas technique is outstanding due to the fact that he does everything by hand, a true artist, this is why i enjoy his work. To be an artists that pushes the boundaries and do what they believe is right, is a true artist in my eyes. He was the first graphic designer to push the envelope and in a way go against what everyone was used to seeing frm the Swiss typography. Fellas work is gridless, its freelance, its expression in a non structured way. He has built a career of over 30 years in his profession of design still using pencils, ballpoint pens, crayons, knives, etc., refusing to use the computer, as a way of still capturing the purity and natural settings of our society. Fella is a designer with great influence on those who want to become. He shows us that everything doesnt have to be done by the rule book and sees his job as a hobby not work.
“This is a kind of art practice that uses forms that come out of graphic design, decorative illustration, and lettering, all mixed together-forms that come out of Twentieth Century art, out of Miró and Picasso-all of it has a genealogy and a certain look-in the same way that artists today use comic books and graphic novels. I was an illustrator, so you see endless styles popping in and out of the books. The drawings are an unconscious discharge of all the styles and forms that I used as a commercial artist for 30 years-that was my profession-I did it every single day. So, my unconscious has all this stuff in it, and now, because I don’t have to make meaning anymore, I can just use the techniques, like a machine that has long ago stopped making widgets, but the machine is still running. I’m still making stuff. I love the craft of it-of carefully making some little thing…” Ed Fella
Born 1960, Hee Sook Kim is a brilliant diverse artist to hails from South Korea. Her work varies from paintings to drawing but the reason why I have chose to write and show her work today is mainly for her prints. Why have i chose Hee Sook Kim? To me her work has a unique beauty and captures colours in a very imaginative way.
Hee Sook kim is currently a professor teaching printmaking at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Im not going to go too much into detail about the artist myself as i have the artist statement on her life and what has inspired her to do her work.
“For me, it seems that childhood memories always remain in my heart like a strong magic spell.
When I came to America to study art, experiencing new cultures, foreign languages, people, and environments challenged me to find my real self, who I was and am. Confusion, struggle, anxiety, anger, pain and agony, and identity have become infused into my work and have evolved to different stages. While I still lived in Manhattan, 9/11 came and left unforgettable scars in my life. One of my friends died. My family and I were locked in for a week. It took 6 months to clean the air of death out of our neighborhood. Experiencing it all changed me and my work. I started to ponder life and death, self identity and meaning of being American, and, strangely, a healing. A memory of my childhood came up: my grandmother’s garden and affections, its magical power over a little girl, the hope of healing.
I create to share experiences I’ve had in America filtered by the culture I grew up in. When people ask me what artists influenced my work the most and I mention old Korean paintings, it puzzles and confuses those with only knowledge of Western art and its artists. I know it especially challenges those who feel superior to Asian culture.
I use Sumi ink, water based colors, Calligraphic brush strokes, strange marks, and texts in foreign languages. As a result, they see waxy surfaces and numerous mysterious layers. A work that doesn’t belong to any categories of art makes them wonder. Is it a painting or a print? Where is the root coming from? There is no connection to Western art tradition that they can easily refer to. The strange foreign object has something they never knew before. Something that they cannot clearly describe or explain makes them uncomfortable, yet curious.
Korean culture is especially foreign to some people. They barely remember the Korean War and the involvement of American troops. A female artist from that country who has lived here for about 18 years, who might have become an American by now, is still an alien in this country. Her language is still not perfect. She now has her own culture mixed between two, American and Korean. She doesn’t belong anywhere, yet physically does in America. Relocation of plants I adopt in my work explains it. One of my pieces has 50 panels (10″x8″ each) of plants transformed with texts in its own language and English. Each panel has a plant that I collected in each country I visited, first New Mexico, later Korea, Switzerland, and Italy. Experiences I had in each place exposed on plants I picked in a foreign soil and climate, imaginably in people who lived there. It is a symbolic object representing the whole culture of the place and an actual being that can cure certain diseases. Each place has its own unique plant: as I remember from an old Korean saying, “Our land always provides cures in native plants when we have diseases”. I make them to awaken people to recognize different cultures and experience them through my work.
America is a country of immigrants and has been, with the exception of its native populations, from its political beginnings. Although there shouldn’t be any superior cultures or ethnicities, we have had a long history of controversial conflicts. We still do. We are too busy to understand others or too proud to acknowledge other cultures and differences. We think our culture is the greatest one. What is our culture then? It is the culture we’ve formed and transformed out of many others. I want to evoke this idea through my work. I want viewers to be both challenged and acknowledged by my work.
I deal with spirituality, a subject that has long been disregarded in the contemporary art scene. A desire of healing is another important subject for me. In Asian philosophy, Chi is an important part of human life. The energy we can’t see is the vital role of our body and comes from nature itself. Recognizing its power in modern sciences is a valuable change in our culture. One of the important scientific discoveries is about medicinal plants and acupunctural treatments as alternatives to traditional medicine. My work holds the power of spirituality. I want people to experience it, or at least to be aware of it.
The totality of the above is the work I make. As a result, it is a unique being, possibly a foreign and uncomfortable one, yet a peaceful one you can even meditate on. I want to challenge viewers to recognize them all in their own way and hopefully for them to create their own.” Hee Sook Kim