Kurt Schwitters

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.


Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis (December 7, 1892–June 24, 1964), was an early American modernist painter. He was well known for his jazz influenced, protopop art paintings of the 1940s and 1950s, bold, brash, and colorful as well as his ashcan pictures in the early years of the 20th century.

April Greinman

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.”[2]

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).[6] 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).



Paul Farrell

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.


Robert Rauschenberg

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.[20] 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.

Robert Rauschenberg has had internationally acclaimed shows in numerous parts of the world. His major exhibitions include: “Robert Rauschenberg: A Retrospective,” the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1997) (traveled to the Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, through 1999); “Combines,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005) (traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, through 2007); and “Gluts,” the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2009), traveled to the Tinguely Museum, Basel, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and Villa e Collezione Panza, Varese in 2010.

Johannes Gutenberg


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.[1] 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.[2]

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

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.