“Art & Technology: A New Unity”. The Modernist Movement.

“The modernists saw themselves as the creators of a ‘machine age’ aesthetic truly redolent of the twentieth century.. compatible with the mass production capacity of progressive industrial culture.” – Jonathan M. Woodham.

I believe that Modernism is the cultural movement of those who opposed the traditional forms of art, interpreting that they were outdated in the new fully industrialised world. Emerging in the twentieth century with a belief that decorative embellishment was ‘out of tune with the age’. “Trash is always abundantly decorated” as designer Le Corbusier stated.

Modernism was a rejection of ‘traditional’ design and the result of wide-spread experimentation. Designers across the world believed in a ‘simplified’ method, experimenting with typography as an image, lines & non-traditional colour palettes. For example the Cover of Red Magazine which held a great influence towards avant-garde designers across Germany & Russia.

Red Magazine
Red Magazine Cover 1928

With wide-spread experimentation across the world an ‘International Style’ emerged from the 1920’s through to the 1960’s. It was most prominent in architecture but influenced many aspects of design including furniture, typography & posters. Modernism was generally characterised by simple, geometric structures, with the abstract manipulation of light & shade. For example Gerrit Reitveld’s Schroder House was a turning point after the war in which modernism attracted more critical attention. It’s use of primary colours, red, yellow and blue combined with geometric shapes is symbolic of the modernist movement.

The Museum Of Modern art (MOMA) was closely associated with the promotion of a ‘Bauhaus Aesthetic’. With the establishment of Bauhaus and under the directorship of Walter Gropius, a design aesthetic fundamental with the spirit of modern mass production was visible. For example William Gipsen’s Giso Lamps poster adopted a modern abstract form, symbolic of the Modernist movement.

Willem Gispen, Giso Lamps Poster 1928
Willem Gispen, Giso Lamps Poster 1928

The Modernist movement is completely astonishing in my perception. A dramatic increase in industry catapulted the art world into a universal completely contradictory style and changed the design world forever. It just goes to show that whats happening in the world around us is portrayed in our creative practice.

Author: tjphoto

UON Design Student & Photographer Newcastle, AU

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