Contextual Studies 2

The Brief

This is the second year of our contextual studies module, the brief states we have too, expand my knowledge and understanding of the cultural history and critical debate which informs current thought about creative practice. I will be given the opportunity to develop skills in critical analysis, research methodologies and formulating, developing and presenting coherent arguments following academic conventions. I will be given help and instruction in how to improve my research and presentation skills and techniques throughout the Module.

I am to extend last years blog by researching on the context of “NOW” with the aim of presenting your findings in terms of a formal academic Essay.

Possible themes:

Globalisation, Emergent technologies, The new world order, The information age…..Follow your passions and think of what I need to know to really understand that field. The key thing is for the topic to be meaningful and current.

The following notes run through some of the key elements common to a proposal They also provide you with a series of headings for possible sections. It is better to break the proposal up into discrete elements so that both you and your tutor have a clear sense of what it is you are proposing to do. You may not know clear and complete answers to these questions. Proposals will evolve and be developed further during your study. What needs to be demonstrated is your understanding that the research you are undertaking has clear potential to be realistic, worthwhile and achievable.

My proposal should consist of a

  1. A working title of the topic area

(This should do more than convey the key words associated with the proposed research. A clear title is crucial. Often a snappy title and explanatory subtitle is of use. E.G.”I’m with the band” –an exploration of the relationships between visual artists and musicians).

  1. General overview of area.

(This should take the form of a brief outline of the general area of study, enabling you to…


identify the discipline(s) within which your study falls. E.G. “An exploration of the collaborations between artists and scientists and the resulting current trends in data representation.” This lies in two discrete bodies of knowledge


demonstrate your own experience, competencies, skill sets, that will assist your investment in your chosen area.


Articulate the potential contribution to new knowledge in the chosen field of research (e.g. explanations of what gaps, limitations or areas that have not been covered adequately from your initial reading of the literature. How might new audiences be engaged. How may this research inform your career trajectory. How might you test a claim).

2.4      articulate what you hope to contribute to the field by covering these gaps and doing research in the particular area. What is it for?

2.5      clearly state your research objectives

  1. Identification of the relevant literature/artworks/artists/practices

In this section, you should develop your proposal to …

3.1      demonstrate that you are aware of the debates and issues raised in relevant bodies of literature

3.2      make references to key articles and texts/artworks/artists/practices/ debates. Where do you fit into the constellation of thought and practices. show that you appreciate their relevance to your research area. locate your research objectives within contemporary literature and practice in the wider field.

  1. Key research questions

What are the key questions within your niche area?

But of course that invites the following question: what makes a question a good (research) question?

It is not so general that it cannot be answered without risk of even greater generality

It is not so ‘narrow’ that it is unable to sustain or lead to any analytic depth

It must be motivated by a genuine need to know – a desire to find something out (it must be important to you).

It must be genuinely informative, that is, able to generate new knowledge: and that means it must also be motivated by the academic field to which it is addressed a contribution to, not a restatement of the research of others.

It is focussed on a problem that has a clearly identified rationale

4.1. List your key questions.

  1. Methodology

5.1      What are the methodological tools available to you?

5.2      You need to show some understanding of which would be suitable for your research. It may be that active qualitative methods, such as the analysis of interviews, studio experimentation, field experiments etc is appropriate, you may be combining methodologies.

Specify and justify the approach you feel will be most appropriate.

  1. Bibliography


Chosen theme – Research Proposal – Whats right for the time?

This is probably the easiest part of the project, “Follow your passions” I need to think of what I need to know to really understand that field. The key thing is for the topic to be meaningful and current. I love anything that is clean, simplistic, and beautiful to look at. This were I stumbled upon minimal/simplistic design, minimal/simplistic design is an area that I have discovered a burning passion for, I began being interested in minimalistic design at the start of my first year foundation degree at university, I use minimalism a lot in my research and more importantly in quite a lot of the work that I produce. Minimalism appealed to me because it tends towards the use of whitespace, better typography, grid layouts, and less colour, which are all areas I like to use in my design work. Its purpose is to make the content stand out and be the focal point. From a visual standpoint, minimalist design is calming and bring the mind down to the basics. For the research part of the brief I will start to look at the history of minimalism, and the different types of minimalism, such as minimalistic design and architecture, as well as minimal art and visual art etc. I will also look in to minimalistic designers, artists, architects. Further will consist of minimalism as a whole, and what I mean by that is not just design and architecture, more about how it impacted different places etc. Finally I will question whether its still as popular as it used to be.

Relevant Resources

Research Objectives

  • Look in to different types of minimalism – history of minimalism
  • Compare past and present minimalists?
  • Is it appropriate for today?
  • Why is it approaching the end of its time?
  • How has it evolved throughout the years, and what impact did have in the 1950’s – 70’s?

Essay opener – mini thesis

“This is a personal essay that will look into how minimalism has evolved, and why it still plays a major part in modern society”


What is minimalism exactly? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as: The use of the fewest and barest essentials or elements, as in the arts, literature, or design. I came across minimalism In my first year foundation degree in Graphic Design as I stated above. My favourite element of design is minimalism, more or less everything that involves minimalism catches my eye immediately. Sol LeWitt, Yuta Takahashi, and Carl Barenbrug are minimalist designer/artists that I take a lot of inspiration from, I will analysis these artists in further detail further in to my research.

Beautiful clean design never fails to pull my attention, whether it’s a design, architecture or a photograph.

Where did Minimalism come from?

Minimalist design is one of the most significant design movements of the 20th century and early 21st century. It isn’t the flashiest, or the most popular, but it arguably penetrated more fields than almost any other art or design trend. Everything from user interfaces, to hardware designs, to cars, to films and games, to the web and visual designs of today – all those fields and more were influenced by minimalism.

Contrary to what you might think, minimalism was never inspired by poverty and austerity. In fact, it’s frequently considered a style of the super-rich. It is simple in form and function, devoid of pointless decorations, yet expensive. You would never say minimalism is a cheap option. Formally, minimalism is 1960s and 1970s invention. However, De Stijl and traditional Japanese design could be considered predecessors of minimalism.

Like with anything in life, minimalist design was influenced by certain things that came before it. Specifically, what influenced minimalist design was:

  1. The De Stijl art movement
  2. Architects like Van Der Rohe
  3. Traditional Japanese design

The De Stijl Movement

The De Stijl art movement had just one goal: To make art that was as simple and as basic as possible. They wanted to distill art to a level of almost scientific precision and perfection. As a result, composition and balance played a huge part in their work, making the De Stijl art movement fairly influential in the next few decades of modern design and modern architecture.

De Stijl pushed for simplicity and abstraction by reducing designs only to its essential form and colour, sticking to only:

  • Horizontal and vertical lines
  • Rectangular forms
  • Primary values white, black, and grey
  • Primary colours blue, red, and yellow

In addition to that, many of the elements or layers don’t intersect, letting each of them to be independent and not covered or interfered by other elements.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.08.13  Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.08.21

You’ve probably seen De Stijl paintings before, perhaps by Piet Mondrian or Theo van Doesburg. Those paintings are easily recognisable by their squares, rectangles, and limited colours primary colours only, for the most part (pictured above).

IMG_6971  IMG_6970  IMG_6968

Above are some photos I took from Moma gallery in New York, they feature three examples of De Stijl paintings by an unknown artist. Sadly the gallery didn’t specify who created the paintings, however I thought it was a great opportunity to add some primary research to my blog.

Van Der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German architect who’s considered a pioneer of modern architecture, and his architectural style during post-World War I laid the groundwork for minimalist design.

Seagram Building, New York –

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.08.32

Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona –

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.08.40Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.08.50  Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 01.09.02

Indeed, city skylines from New York to Spain own much to Mies van der Rohe work.

Van der Rohe aimed for simplicity and clarity and his trademark approaches are:

  • The use of modern construction materials like steel and plate glass
  • The reduction of structural frameworks to a minimum
  • The inclusion of lots of open space

Van der Rohe adopted the motto “Less is more” to describe his aesthetic tactic of arranging the necessary components of a building to create an impression of extreme simplicity, he drafted every element and detail to serve multiple visual and functional purposes; for example, designing a floor to also serve as the radiator, or a massive fireplace to also house the bathroom. Van der Rohe’s principles are still in use today, not only in architecture but in design as well.

Traditional Japanese Design

Traditional Japanese design with its simplicity and clean forms is considered another predecessor of minimalism. This is a reflection of Japanese culture itself where simplicity has long been prized, and all that’s not essential to the functionality of a thing is not included in its design. Most of Japanese aesthetics and ideals value simplicity stemming from the Zen philosophy of impermanence and imperfection.

Zen concepts of simplicity transmit the ideas of freedom and essence of living. Simplicity is not only aesthetic value, it has a moral perception that looks into the nature of truth and reveals the inner qualities of materials and objects for the essence.

Zen concepts of simplicity transmit the ideas of freedom and essence of living. Simplicity is not only aesthetic value, it has a moral perception that looks into the nature of truth and reveals the inner qualities of materials and objects for the essence. For example, the dry rock garden in Ryoanji temple demonstrates the concepts of simplicity and the essentiality from the considered setting of a few stones and a huge empty space. Ryoanji, attributed by some scholars to the famous landscape painter and monk Soami, is believed to have oringinally used the concept of shakkei in its design, in which background landscape is incorporated into the composition of the garden.

Apprentice monk rakes the garden at Ryoanji, a Zen temple in Kyoto.  The rock and sand garden embodies Japanese aesthetics-nature at its simplest, art at  its most refined. Japan  Rock garden

The rock and sand garden embodies Japanese aesthetics – nature and at its simplest, art at its most refined.

The list of heroes of minimalism across arts (architecture, painting, music, design) is long. Some of the more prominent minimalists include Buckminster Fuller, Dieter Rams, Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, Frank Stella.

Minimalist Architecture

The roots of minimalism in architecture are often traced back to the mid to late 1950s. The movement was a reaction to new styles of architecture and lifestyle that was being cultivated in the United States. Although minimalsim art has its roots in America, minimalist architecture was born elsewhere. Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia, and Japan (as I already stated above) are important in the history of minimalist design, and in fact, these places continue to be among the biggest embracers of minimalism.

5a1330c8af94293b24dbb54e534a8735  Bulego-Desk-Minimalist-Office-Furniture-3

Minimalist architects use space as a design feature in and of itself. Instead of trying to fill space with features, they create designs in which the empty space is as carefully thought out and used as everything they add to the room. Basic shapes and straight, clean lines are also important techniques used in minimalist design, as is playing around with different kinds of lighting. The outcome is elegant but without being fussy.

Luxury-Apartment-Building-in-New-York-HL23-by-Neil-Denari-1  IMG_6960  IMG_6850

One common criticism of minimalism in architecture is that it is aesthetically cold and that it creates an unwelcoming home environment. However people who advocate minimalist architecture argue that in fact minimalism is more welcoming than more baroque styles of design. They say that taking the “less is more” approach creates a relaxing, calming environment free of all of the clutter that demands attention in more baroque design styles. Obviously in reality it all comes down to a substantial taste. Some prefer imposing architecture while some prefer simple and clean styles.The principles of minimalism can be applied poorly, which can indeed be stark, but properly employed, minimalism can be elegant and inviting. A few good examples of elegant and inviting minimalism are pictures above which are from my recent trip to New York. (My own photos). The first image is of an apartment which was designed by American architect Neil Denari. The second image is of a clean office building that is in the centre of New York, unfortunatley I am unsure of the name and the architect. The third image is a of the New One World Trade Centre which was recently finished in 2014, and was designed by architect David Childs. The building is a clear visual of a modern minimalistic building that is ‘elegant and inviting’.

A few important architects working in the field of minimalist design include:

  • Lugdwig Mies van der Rohe
  • Buckminster Fuller
  • Dieter Rams
  • Luis Barragan
  • John Pawson
  • Eduardo Souto de Mouro
  • Alvar Siza
  • Yoshi Tanigushi
  • Peter Zumthor
  • Richard Gluckman


Minimalist Photography

Sometimes in the world of photography, less is more. Minimalist photographers know that sometimes it’s important to focus solely on one particular subject, rather than overwhelm the viewer with tons of color and pattern and information. While there are plenty of successful photographers who take “busy” photographs, photographers on the other end of the spectrum including Hiroshi Sugimoto and Hans Hiltermann are successful for completely different reasons. When dealing with minimalism, it’s important to understand the relationship between subject and viewer, texture and pattern, and light and shadow.

Hiroshi Sugimoto


Born in Japan in 1948, Hiroshi Sugimoto is most than just a photographer. Through different bodies of work he has shown many different interests, including minimalistic dioramas, wax portraits and photographing early photographic negatives. His photography tends to blur the lines between painting, illustration, photography, and architecture. From seascapes to natural history dioramas, there’s something about Sugimoto’s photographs that resonates with viewers. Like Kenna, Sugimoto only photographs in black and white. He prints all of his images himself with a great understanding of silver print, creating images with unbelievably beautiful tones of black, white and grey.

Hans Hiltermann

YOU  minimalissimo-hans-hiltermann-you-3  YOU

Hans Hiltermann is a Dutch photographer who was born in 1960. He began his career in photography as an advertising photographer, where he spent his time creating elaborate and artificial scenes used to sell a product. After years of creating these scenes, he finally decided to take his photography in a different direction; instead of spending his time creating elaborate photographs, he decided to figure out what he could say with the minimum amount of visual information. Hiltermann takes realistic portraits of people, all looking straight into the camera. Looking at the stripped back appearance and energy of his models. No make-up and an intense gaze is the base content of ‘YOU’. “What a beautiful concept. I think this explains the work perfectly however that leaves me in a predicament – I am not exactly sure what to add to it. Perhaps that is the beauty of minimalism – it is to the point with little room to stray from the intended message.”


No makeup, no jewelry, no hairdo, no visible clothing, no preference. No smile, no seduction. No reaction. What’s left is a person without a facade. Someone who has completely left his guard down. There is nothing between you.This is amplified by the amazingly detailed, realistic photography. Every little detail is exposed no hiding.



Minimalist Music

In music, the minimalist movement was, like minimal art, a reaction against a then current form, with composers rejecting many of the dry intellectual complexities and the emotional sterility of serial music and other modern forms. Generally, minimalist compositions tend to emphasise simplicity in melodic line and harmonic progression, to stress repetition and rhythmic patterns, and to reduce historical or expressive reference. The use of electronic instruments is common in minimalist music, as are influences from Asia and Africa. Among prominent minimalist composers are Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and John Adams.

Phillip Glass 

The American composer Philip Glass continues to have a tremendous impact on contemporary music. His brand of music is often described, much to his chagrin, as minimalism. Glass’s music and his approach to creating it are thoroughly modern, even revolutionary, making him one of the most provocative, commercially successful, and controversial composers of his generation.


With minimalism, Philip Glass invented a new kind of music that attracted an enormous group of people who had never listened to classical music before and, in some cases, who still only listen to his form of it.

Steve Reich

Reich was a leading composer of minimalism in the 1960s and 1970s, Reich continued to expand his compositional resources to achieve striking expressiveness in his vocal pieces in the 1980s. His music, although very complex, was completely accessible.


One of the foremost composers of minimalism, Steve Reich was the creator of “phase” and “pulse” music, both of which rely on the gradual alteration of repetitive rhythmic patterns to create subtle changes in musical texture. Concerned with the manipulation of aural perception, he directed the listener to focus on one of the many rhythmic patterns occurring concurrently in his music by reinforcing one pattern through changes in dynamics and timbre.

Minimalist Painting

Like the minimalist sculptors, minimalist painters strived to create objects with presence, which can be seen at their basic physical appearance and appreciated at face value. Minimalist paintings are usually precise and ‘hard-edged’, referring to the abrupt transitions between color areas. They incorporate geometric forms, often in repetitive patterns, resulting in flat, two-dimensional space. Colour areas are generally of one solid, unvarying colour. Colors were normally unmixed, coming straight from the tube. The colour palette is often limited.


Hyena Stomp 1962 by Frank Stella born 1936

Through this use of only line, solid colour, geometric forms and shaped canvas, the minimalist artists combined paint and canvas in such a way that the two became inseparable.

Well-know minimalist painters from the 1960′s and 1970′s:

  • Ellsworth Kelly
  • Kenneth Noland
  • Robert Ryman
  • Frank Stella
  • Robert Mangold
  • Kazimir Malevich
  • Anthony Carol
  • Robert Ryman
  • Piet Mondrian
  • Ad Reinhardt
  • Josef Albers


Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian, one of the founders of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl, is recognized for the purity of his abstractions and methodical practice by which he arrived at them. He radically simplified the elements of his paintings to reflect what he saw as the spiritual order underlying the visible world, creating a clear, universal aesthetic language within his canvases. In his best known paintings from the 1920s, Mondrian reduced his shapes to lines and rectangles and his palette to fundamental basics pushing past references to the outside world toward pure abstraction. His use of asymmetrical balance and a simplified pictorial vocabulary were crucial in the development of modern art, and his iconic abstract works remain influential in design and familiar in popular culture to this day.




Mondrian’s style can be seen in the developments of the Minimalists of the late 1960s, who also opted for reduced forms and a pared down palette. Not only influential within modern art, Mondrian’s far-reaching impact can be seen across all aspects of modern and postmodern culture, from Yves Saint Laurent’s color-blocking in his Mondrian day dress, to the use of Mondrian’s Neo-Plastic style and palette by the rock band the White Stripes for the cover of their 2000 album, De Stijl, as well as his name as the moniker for three hotels, the “Mondrian” hotel in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Josef Albers 

The ‘grandfather’ of Minimalism, Josef Albers was a prolific painter, printmaker, designer, and teacher who illuminated the importance of astute perception and restrained expression. Formerly a teacher at the Bauhaus in Germany, Albers profoundly influenced twentieth-century American art as a teacher at Black Mountain College and Yale University. His famous color course took a radical approach to the application of color in art and design. Rejecting traditional theory, Albers stressed that colour is inherently unstable and dependent on its relationship to adjacent colors. He taught his students, many of whom later became influential artists in their own right to trust their vision and use colour in experimental ways.

Albers-photo-and-work  images


Albers believed that removing all evidence of individual expression creates a more powerful visual impact. In Homage to the Square (pictured above)Albers constructs a subjective experience for the viewer, who perceives each shade of saturated red ink in relation to its adjoining colours. It is an endless exercise of subtle comparison.

Essay Structure – 

After some extensive research in to minimalism, I started to think about, how I could write my essay, and touch up on the points and research I have already come across. So I started to put together an essay structure…



The structure features the points I am going to conclude in ‘whats right for the time’ these are the different sections I will be talking about. Our tutor said it would be a good idea to set out a structure of 10 different sections of 300 words, which overall makes 3,000. This juts makes it easier for writing my essay. However I went for a little change as I am having 8 different sections…

  • Intro Essay – What’s right for the time
  • Methodology
  • Key works / minimalist designers 
  • How has minimalism affected the 20th century
  • How has minimalist design changed overtime 
  • Influences on my work 
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Each section will feature around 375 words per section, however this could vary on the sections I write about, so it may not be the same amount of words for each section of my essay. (The bibliography sections does not count as words for the essay)

Here we go!


Intro Essay – What’s right for the time

“This is a personal essay that will look into how minimalism has evolved, and why it still plays a major part in modern society”

I am establishing a chunk of research to create a brochure/book on ‘whats right for the time’ – in minimalism.  Minimalism is one of the most well know pieces of contemporary art in the mid to late 20th century, we still live in a world where minimalism plays a huge part in everyday life as well as design. By looking in to various sources I hope to produce a minimalist book that will feed you with information about why minimalism still plays a major part in todays modern society. I will conduct critical analysis on the brief history of minimalism, and look in to the people who inspired the movement.  I will also research in to the key works of minimalist artists – evaluating what influence their work had on the 21st century.

Its only ever so recently I have started to take a real passion for minimal design, I never really noticed what it was or even paid attention to what it is. However, over the past year or so minimal design has played quite a large part in the work I produce as well as the research I gather.  The purpose of minimal design is to make the content stand out and be the focal point.  From a visual standpoint, minimalist design is calming and brings the mind down to the basics. As minimal design has had a big influence on me over this past year, I want to analyse why it still plays a major part in todays modern society and compare todays minimal design with 20th century where it was a popular and ‘cool’ movement. In this essay I will talk about why minimal design is still as popular as it used to be. What I mean by that is, what role does it play now? What has todays design taken from the 60’s and 70’s minimal design? How has the 21st century implicated minimalism from the 20th century? Although I don’t know the ‘specific’ answer to why minimalism is still massive of part of the world today, I will discuss my own opinions on how its evolved throughout the years, and explore the different minimalist artists and founders to look upon the impact they made in the 60’s 70’s, and how they’ve influenced present society.  I will also investigate the current (today) minimalists, and the impact they currently have on the 21st century, and compare them with the 20th century minimalists.


The best ways in which I can conduct my research are conducting analysis on research studies, and important books including Everything That Remains (, As a Decade Fades (, Live a Meaningful Life ( And finding other information from sources using the internet.

The main body of my research will feature on how the minimal design movement progressed through the 60’s and 70’s through to today, this will back up my reasoning behind why its still a popular and prominent in the 21st century. I should also maybe look into the different works that minimalists have created certain works that have played a big influence on other artists. 

Some key people and mediums I have identified and want to look into further are:

  • Frank Stella.
  • Piet Monderin & Dan Flavin.
  • The roots into minimalism.
  • Key works about minimalistic design.
  • Early minimalism inspirations.
  • Why minimalism is still popular today.

Its a very interesting subject and its something that could be scrutinzed indefinitely but not only do I have a word count to stick to but I don’t want my final book design outcome to become too repetitive and declarative with too much information and put off the reader. My book/brochure should be smooth to achieve without getting thwarted with too much deep absorption, I want my guide to be easy to follow and straight forward to read for everyone, I don’t want the information to overload the reader with too much material. I firmly believe I have chosen a good list of people and mediums to look into to argue my point, but however it could change as I manage my research and find new possible routes that I might go down. 

What is minimalism? Brief indication

The Minimalist design movement is one of the most significant design movements of the 20th century and early 21st century. It isn’t the flashiest, or the most popular, but it arguably penetrated more fields than almost any other art or design trend. Everything from user interfaces, to hardware designs, to cars, to films and games, to the web and visual designs of today all those fields and more were influenced by minimalism. The focus on simplicity spilled over into painting, interior design, fashion, and music. That’s how the following were formed and are now commonplace: minimal painting, minimal music, the minimalism school of composing, and so forth. Painter Frank Stella was quoted as saying, ‘What you see is what you see’. Minimal art in particular especially grew in the 1960s in America. Minimalism is not, in itself, the most popular artistic trend. However, it is nonetheless a major twentieth century movement that continues to inspire and influence the majority of creative activities today, particularly in the field of design. In fact, the history of minimalism and design are intimately linked. Minimalism strips away the unneeded to focus on the essential. This is a philosophy often shared by designers, whose job is to create within the dictates of form and function. An intellectual closeness that explains why, more than ever before, minimalism has established itself as a dominant trend in the world of design, irrespective of the field of application: architecture, interior design, and graphics.

Key works / minimalist designers 

Minimalists wanted their viewer to experience their work without the distractions of composition, theme, and other elements of traditional work. The medium and materials of the work was its reality, and was what Minimalist artists wanted to portray. The basis being on a works presence, the materials used were not intended to symbolise anything else. The work strived to evoke a response from the viewer in terms of the relationship between the various elements of the work. Minimalist artists rejected the idea that art should reflect the personal expression of its creator. There was a lack of emotion and subconscious decision-making in minimalist art, hiding the presence and feelings of the artists. Rather, the artists believed that the viewers personal reaction to the object was of higher importance, and thus strove to eliminate the presence of the creator in their work

Minimalism questioned the nature of art and its place in society. However some people deemed Minimalist art to be unapproachable and empty, others saw the revolutionary concept and strong affect that minimalist theory had on post-modern art.

arth280084  StellaBlk

Key works and influences on minimalism are artists such as  Frank Stella who was the first painter and print maker associated with the minimalist style. Stella’s work in the late 1950s and early 1960s followed his belief that a painting was nothing more than flat surface with paint on it. This philosophy is evident in his painting titled “Die Fahne Hoch” The painting was made by dividing the canvas into equal parts from each edge.  His purpose in applying an emotional title to this work of abstract geometry was to challenge the idea of meaning. This piece is housed in the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Piet Mondrain’s composition of Red, Blue, Yellow and White, was made before the official start of the minimalist art moment in the late 1950s. It is the beginning of the non figurative style of painting that grows into the minimalist movement. This painting contains the geometric forms, lack of depth and fields of colour associated with minimalism.

Flavin_sails,-1985  4NfOUgta-7AW  7436b808cb96d93112b6e7d95950a6c8

Dan Flavin was an American artist and pioneer of Minimalism, best known for his seminal installations of light fixtures. Flavin’s work consists of few materials colour, light, and space. What he managed to do with these seemingly simple elements has amounted to an important and lasting legacy that changed the course of 20th century art. His dedication to simple forms, use of industrial materials, and symbolic meaning had a profound impact on the Minimalist generation of artists, notably including Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. Key works include, “Sail 1986”, “untitled (to Barnett Newman) two, 1971”, “Untitled (for you Leo, in long respect and affection) 4, 1978”, “untitled (To Pat and Bob Rohm), 1969” “The Diagonal of May 25, 1963” Flavin’s legacy is less about his work as a significant Minimalist artist than it is in his ability to look beyond the movement. More directly, Flavin’s experiments paved the way for other light artists, including Robert Irwin and James Turrell.

How has minimalism affected the 20th century

Minimalism played a massive part in the 20th century, however it it was influenced by things that came before it… Among them,  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was one of the first prominent architects to utilise minimal design principles. He was sustained by the availability of the materials post World War I, such as concrete, glass, and steel, minimalism took root. The De Stijl art movement, which began in the Netherlands in 1917 and lasted until around the 1930s. The movement aimed for simplicity, reducing designs to their essential forms. Buckminster Fuller, another prominent twentieth century architect and inventor, designed domes using simple geometric shapes that still look modern today.

mies-van-der-rohe  The_Barcelona_Pavilion,_Barcelona,_2010

While the focus on simplicity began with architecture, it soon spilled over into art, interior design, and even fashion and music.

arar_minimalism_01_v  apple-simple-logo-blue-minimal-34-iphone6-plus-wallpaper  Barnett Newman 1905-1970 - Voice of Fire, 1967 - Tutt'Art@

Minimalism has entered virtually every corner of life and is apparent all around us from the sleek designs of the iPhones we use to the cars we drive, to the Internet and visual designs we see and interact with every day. While the focus on simplicity began with architecture, it soon spilled over into art, interior design, and even fashion and music. Although minimalist art reached its peak during the 1960s and 1970s, its principles still have a huge impact on virtually every level of society. As one example, minimalism has carried over into the digital realm and is an increasingly important part of web design today.

How has minimalist design changed overtime 

Ever since the days of Van Der Rohe, Frank Stella, and Donald Judd, minimalism has changed massively in terms of the way its being presented and showcased. Obviously the minimalist movement played a massive part in the 60’s and 70’s, but stalled around the later 20th century, however I think its still as popular as ever, what I’m trying to say its not as noticed as it used to be, but deep down its a massive part of everyday design, as well as life. In the mid 20th century, minimalists such as the ones I mentioned above, didn’t have materials such as phones, computers, the internet etc. We have implicated minimal design in to technology itself, elements such as iPhones, Mac’s, and iPads all use clean minimal design. Web design is a key component on how far minimal design has come, at the beginning in the mid 21st century, echoes of the minimalist art movement began to appear in web interfaces: larger swaths of negative space, lower amounts of content, and restricted colour palettes. Google is often credited as the pioneer of minimalist web interfaces. Google has prioritised simplicity and austerity in its interfaces ever since its beta offering in the 1990s. Now minimalist design principles are now showing up in new and unexpected places: e-commerce sites, online publications, and even educational sites are adopting minimalist trends and strategies. This just shows how much minimal design has changed since the early to mid 20th, even though its rather unnoticeable.


shure  06_minimalist_website_design_simonfoster

Why it’s still playing a part today

Near enough everywhere you turn, another designer is realising a piece of work, or even a project displaying  minimalist design style. The focus on white space, simplicity, and beautiful typography is exhilarating, and its a great preference for a number of designs, and design projects. I think this could be one of the main logics why minimalist is still popular/playing a major part in todays modern society.

However the minimalist trend is not brand new as we already know. Minimalism has been around almost as long as design itself. It’s a style that goes back-and-forth, but always remains as one of the classic styles, making it a design choice that almost always works.

The minimalist designs of the current period aren’t that much different than in many other eras. The identifier is often how minimalism is used with other trends. So right now you are likely to see a minimalist framework with elements of flat design or with a video or with a full screen header or with card style elements. Actual minimalist concepts don’t really change all that much. Many designers, regardless of the time period, often create projects mainly using white and black colour schemes, lots of space especially for the borders and around the central image, and sans serif typography. That’s not to say these are requirements of minimalist design, but they are quite common attributes, regardless of time period.

8528d889939447306c5e78a10f3cbe69    tumblr_o012s4mgn01uwxh4ko1_1280  FYI-Monday-Inspiration-Mark-Brooks-Swaan-Christos

What we are really seeing with minimalism right now is a specific focus on one bit of content, without competition from other elements. This could be a photo, logo or simple block of text. Elements such as navigation or contact information or footers are almost hidden in the design. Designers are also beginning to incorporate animations into website designs using minimalism. While this can be tricky the animations must be subtle it can draw a beautiful connection between classical and modern design.

9da9c7799eea0bc4d275ffb859a0a664  c8cddb40bf6ee9209a901ef168aa5bb2


The other major minimalism trend is text size. Designers are opting for dramatic sizing super small or big lettering with stack backgrounds and simple images. The high contrast is great for creating focus in a simple structure and attention on the ‘right’ content within the design.

Influences on my work 

NB  emil_ruder_2  David_Bowie  Sto

This investigation has had a massive influence on the work I produce, I mean I hardly knew about about minimalism a few years ago, but ever since coming across it I’ve always looked to incorporate the style in to the work I produce. As a student who is studying Graphic Design I have been inspired by the certain present minimalists, such as Mike Joyce, Neville Brody, Emile Ruder and Saul Bass. Saul Bass having quite a large influence on the work I produce, his visually simple but impactfull poster designs are the contrary of minimalism and the “less is more” school of design thought in which original typography and graphics are the basis of the artwork. His high contrast, action-packed movie poster designs of the 1960’s are particular works of art that people use as examples of high art movie posters. The resurgence of his unique illustrative style that was based in strong concept and idea is apparent in many of the posters we are seeing in 2016.

Saul-Bass-Style-Dr-No-Poster  8965eb8faf6e8564712902544fe87aa2  saul-bass-movie-posters-13

Minimal design does not only have an influence on myself but on others too, Apple for example a massive worldwide multinational technology company, they use clean minimal design amongst their products and designs, the Apple Mac is a minimal product as well as iPads and iPhones, Apple have taken minimalism to whole new level with their minimal products and designs.


Minimalism is one of the design trends that just never gets old. The simplicity of it makes minimalism easy to incorporate into a number of other styles and trends. It is classic and classy. It works with and emphasises  many different types of content. Minimalist design will continue to take over website, app and print design. It will evolve and change as design preferences always do, but the roots of the technique will remain. This investigation, answers a few of my questions on why minimalism is still appraise for today, but not all of them. Like I said at the start of the the essay I will not know the ‘specific’ answer to the question, and I still don’t know the exact reason why, I mean its such a popular trend today its hard to say one specific reason why! Throughout the investigation I have talked about the key influences as well as most importantly suggesting ‘whats right for the time’ or in other words is minimalism still as popular/plays a major part in today modern society. I personally think from the study and reasons I have given, I have come up with solid solutions on analysing ‘whats right for the time’.



Visual Communication

How shapes convey a meaning:

I have just been introduced to contextual studies which in my opinion is the meaning behind art and design. This is an important aspect to understand to really be able to give evidence behind my work and meaning behind my decisions. Today I have been lectured on examples of  visual communication, and how shapes convey a meaning. Almost every shape has a meaning, to demonstrate this I have matched the shapes below with these words

1  2  4  3

The sharp edges on the spiky shape would represent the words, antagonistic, scary, and aggressive. I often see shapes like this used on Pop Art posters and comic books such as Beano, they would represent speech such as the words BANG! and CRASH! Or in comic books for explosions etc. There isn’t really anything natural that takes a similar shape apart from hedgehogs or the obvious one lightning bolts that have a sharp spiky shape. The circle shape is smooth, soft, quiet and more of a feminine comforting shape. Having no sharp edges or points the circle shape looks very gentle and harmless, its reminds me of the word baby. The arrow can be easily represent the words positive direction or moving upwards. The shape is a combination between a spiky and rectangle object therefore the arrow shape has a masculine and positive feel around the shape. The shape itself can be found on road signs and fire exits etc. The tall shape would represent the words elegant, authority and sophistication. I often see shapes like this when I look at university buildings, they almost look like they’re giving jurisdiction. Generally tall and sophisticated conforms to rectangular shape. The next logical step is to go around finding objects that fit these stereotypical shapes.

Mr Men examples:

9781405250733_Z mr sneeze-1  mr tall  mr rush

In the lesson we talked about Mr Men Characters and how the shape of them can mean different things. The first character is little miss sunshine, this represents the circle shape which is soft and quiet, the character is a girl, and a circle shape is always portrayed as a feminine shape. The second image is Mr Sneeze now this character is meant to be loud and lusty hence the name “Mr Sneeze” the sharp spiky shape is represented as a masculine shape, hence the male character. The third character is Mr Tall, the character represents the tall rectangle shape, which emphasizes the words authority and elegance, this is a very masculine shape . The final character is Mr Rush, this character imitates the arrow shape, this shape represents the words positive and movement. The word movement fits well with his name ‘Mr Rush’ because he is always moving. The shape is also a masculine shape hence the male character.

Examples I have found:


Considering the shapes I have just looked, the next step was to find some materials or objects that fit the shape stereotypically. I decided to find some primary objects that were laying around my house as well as researching examples on the internet which I will look at later. The first thing I found was this glass blue wine like bottle, I’m not 100 percent sure what is is actually used for. When I first laid eyes upon the bottle, I immediately thought of the words elegance and authority. The bottle has a very masculine ambiance to it and feels very substantial and heavy, This demonstrates to me that whatever the glass bottle was seemingly used for a masculine audience.


The second primary object I found in my house is a Soap and Glory bottle. This is clearly a very feminine drink and has a roundness shape to influence that its nothing too different from a regular soap bottle.The soap bottle rather is a dignified and reticent. Its a mixture between the rectangle shape and the circle shape, the rectangle shape shows its elegance, but the circular shape shows its soft side, the bottle also has quite a soft feel to the bottle, which proves its a more of a feminine object.


This sort of object I looked up on the internet, its a combination of a more curved rectangle, and a soft feminine circle shape. There are more elegant looking jewellery boxes out there that follow a more rectangular shape and tend to be more expensive showing that rectangles are still a more elegant and sleek shape. Nonetheless the circle shape that is combined with the rectangular shape does associate with the qualities and of the shapes it is made from. the box has a warm and soft feel to it, looking through the points I have made, it suggests to me that this is a feminine object.

holly bush

This primary image I took is of a holly bush in my back garden, the shape of the leaves are spiky which suggest this has an aggressive feel, its the sort of object/shape that can startle people if you touch it, I straight away guessed this was a masculine shape as its very contentious.


after looking at objects i could find around my house I started looking at some images on the internet what i could find, this is a great example for the arrow shape, the subway logo has arrows either side, if you loook closely you can see both arrows are pointing upwards this suggest the shape is positive. It’s is a combination between a spiky and rectangle object therefore the arrow shape has a masculine feel around the shape. If the arrows were pointing down, it would shows a negative mood.

When i was talking about the spiky shape at the beginning of the topic, I often see spiky shapes on Pop Art posters and comic books such as Beano, they would represent speech such as the words BANG! and CRASH! Or in comic books when explosions occur this suggests masculine and aggressive actions. When I used to read comic book when I were younger I always used to come across the destructive spiky shape. The shape captures your attention on any magazines, comics or even adverts, it draws the eye towards it.

How colours communicate:


The first colour we looked at was red, which is the most passionate and powerful colour. The colour has many diverse meanings, its can perceived as a very aggressive and contentious colour, danger, blood and anger all use red imagery as its an invigorating colour. It can be a rather intimidating colour, hence why the colours is used on military uniforms. Its also a lively and challenging colour, this means It will most likely make you feel aroused and agitated, not forgetting warm. However when I see red most of the time its usually used as a seductive and colour too, such as for sex, roses and lipstick.


The next we looked at in the lecture was Blue, which is completely the opposite to red, blue is more of a spiritual and conservative colour, it is often associated with church, religion, and heaven. When I think of the colour blue I always assume the words cool and harmonious, its a colour that tends to calm anger. Water and the sky is always though of as a blue colour.


Yellow is next one we looked at, its communicated as a cheerful and comforting colour, has rather similar factors to an orange colour, but is essentially associated with youth and new life, Sun flowers and Marigold flowers are natural object that indicate a ‘new life’. Yellow is a positive colour and can either be advancing or diminished depending on the different shades of yellow. Overall yellow is described as a happy colour, a good example of this is Mr Happy in the book series Mr Men who is portrayed as a bright yellow circle colour. Yellow is also used amongst child and baby colours.


Green is certainly the most natural colour we looked at. its not as powerful as the likes of the main colours of red and blue. However green is one of the most seen colours, especially stepping in to a forest or a natural environment for that matter, trees and plants are a good example. I sometimes hear the colour green used in acting, certain actors refer to the green room as it can change your general mood to a neutral one. Looking at the different end of the scale, green can be associated with snot, slime and jealousy, different shades of green can effect the different ways its recognised.


Orange is a hot warm colour and works similar to the colour red. Orange is comforting colour, it can been seen on certain logos such as Easy Jet and Nickelodeon. Different shades of orange stimulate different moods, such as a lighter shade of orange has a more warm and soothing feel, unlike a darker orange (more closer to red) which gives of an invigorating and aggressive mood. As its an escalated colour its creates a certain affection. Fire is great example of the colour orange as it shares the same colours and characteristics.


Purple is the colour of least importance. Its blends with the jurisdiction of red and the spiritual significance of blue to generate a very powerful colour. Purple is very viewed as a wealthy colour, it can be seen used by royals and is occasionally a trivial colour used by pimps. Like blue, purple was rather expensive to create, hence why mainly wealthy people tend to wear the colour. Its obviously not as aggressive as red, but it’s rather seductive and tactile which is why its used amongst sex industry, the brand Durex is a great example.

Untitled-1  Untitled-2

The colour purple is seen as a luxurious colour, I decided to take this image of a Thorntons chocolate packaging, this particular chocolate is a rather expensive chocolate, hence why the purple colour has been used for the packaging. The second image is of a sophisticated expensive dress, its viewed as people who are only wealthy can afford the dress.

Untitled-3  lipstick

Film posters is a great example of of how colours communicate a meaning, for example the horror film Nightmare on Elm Street, is a perfect example, the red imagery portrays a rather intimidating and can make people feel fearful. The second image shows a women putting red lipstick on, as I know red is a seductive colour and is used amongst roses and sex, and as you can see above lipstick.

Untitled-1  Untitled-1  Untitled-1

Th colour blue is occasionally known as spiritual, and religious colour, one example i thought was good was inside this church, the blue colours visible throughout the image, blue is commonly related to heaven as well, hence the blue colour inside the church. Blue is an old, sad and mature colour, for example this film ‘Frozen River’ is a mature and upsetting film, its aimed more towards an older audience. The third image poster is another film, this one communicates with blue because its classed as a spiritual film.

Period Style and Architecture:

After looking at different forms and colours we moved onto looking at period style and architecture that are used to portray different meanings. We looked at the outside of different buildings such as the decor and interior. We also looked at different certain paintings throughout the period style, such as the Oath of the Horatii, and different lautrec paintings.


Baroque art and archtitecture, the visual arts, building design and construction produced during the era in the history western art that roughly coincides with the 17th century. Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 13.36.02   

Looking more in to the architectural side of the baroque style, in the late 16th century Italy baroque was a devoted and melodramatic movement that celebrated the catholic state. Baroque was very theatrical and over the top and as it increased in reputation it was used more frequently in royal palaces to reflect the power and prosperity of the catholic churches around that time.


Above are some examples of a painting and photograph. The painting is more of a traditional baroque style, compared to the photograph on the right which is taken by Tim Bret Day is more of a modern baroque style.

There are also some adverts that include a baroque style, especially the Louis Vuitton advertisements which include a lot of the modern and traditional baroque style.


After looking at the baroque movement we moved on too the Rococo style. With the baroque movement still in full swing the french came up with rococo or otherwise known as the late baroque which occurred during the late 18th century in France. Aside from architecture, the Rococo movement also influenced painting, literature and theater. This style adored the intricate, the luxurious, and the romantic.


From the images, the ornate nature of Rococo decoration is clear, as is its prominent use of pastel colors, asymmetrical abstract design, and gold finishings.  Designs were floral and paintings focused on scenes of courtship & love especially in this this Fragonard piece. In the Rococo style, walls, ceilings, and moldings were decorated with delicate inter-lacings of curves and counter-curves based on the fundamental shapes of the “C” and the “S,” as well as with shell forms and other natural shapes. Asymmetrical design was the rule. Light pastels, ivory white, and gold were the predominant colours, and Rococo decorators frequently used mirrors to enhance the sense of open space. Some of the most famous architects of the time were Nicolai Eigtved, Germain Boffrand, and Philip De Lange. My favourite architect out of the three I found is Germain Boffrand, I don’t think his architecture was as over the top as the other. I’m not a massive fan of the rococo movement It doesn’t have the elegance and jurisdiction as baroque does.


The next movement we stumbled upon was Classical, classical architecture began with the ancient Greeks, and was developed and elaborated by the Romans. In its purest and most familiar form, it is expressed by the temple, an oblong enclosure fronted or surrounded by columns. For centuries, it was regarded as the key to beauty in building, and the best guide to true proportion. The term “classical architecture” also applies to any mode of architecture that has evolved to a highly refined state, such as classical Chinese architecture, or classical Mayan architecture. It can also refer to any architecture that employs classical aesthetic philosophy. The term might be used differently from traditional or vernacular architecture The things you would normally find in these types of buildings would be from the Neoclassical movement. Neoclassical is a western movement which is used in Visual arts, Literature, Music and Theatre.


The shift to neoclassical architecture is conventionally dated to the 1750s. It first gained influence in England and France; in England, Sir William Hamilton’s excavations at Pompeii and other sites, the influence of the Grand Tour and the work of William Chambers and Robert Adam, was pivotal in this regard. International neoclassical architecture was demonstrated in Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s buildings, especially the Old Museum in Berlin (pictured above), Sir John Soane’s Bank of England in London and the newly built White House and Capitol in Washington DC. This style has been derived in buildings such as Sheffield City Hall (which is pictured above), where buildings that were designed in the late 19th early 20th century can be seen to share similar components as the classical and neoclassic architecture as countless buildings are still existing as well as looking vigorous for thousands of years.


Painted in Rome in the style of Neoclassicism, Jacques Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii is one of the better known examples of art produced by this artist of diverse styles. This painting was hailed as the manifesto of a new school based on the fervent study of the antique and a return to classical techniques in the late 18th century. In this painting, completed in 1785, David integrates the growing and confused culture of the Neoclassical movement in a dramatic portrayal of the Horatii brothers swearing their allegiance to the state as their father stands with swords held high for them to grasp. Oath of the Horatii David clearly defines the type of subject matter and presentation that marks Neoclassicism by drawing on historical subjects from an artifact and painting them as a type of bas-relief with strong angular lines and theatrical poses. The image on the right is more of a modern outtake on Neoclassicism, it features a celebrities head on a Neoclassical painting.


Gothic architecture developed because of common architectural problems in Medieval times. Back in the 1100s-1200s, building skills were extremely limited. Stone castles were rudimentary – dark, cold, and damp. Gothic architecture tried to solve some of these unpleasant problems, and created light, pleasant and airy buildings. Before the gothic, architecture was functional. Now, architecture became beautiful.

Probably the most important form of Gothic architectural art was the stained glass window. Stained glass windows are closely tied to the architectural developments of Gothic cathedrals. Most of the innovations of Gothic architecture were developed for the very purpose of adding more stained glass windows to churches. Gothic architecture replaced the thick, dark walls of Romanesque cathedrals with thin, towering walls of coloured glass.

Tracery within an arched window 

The innovation of the pointed arch which was the defining internal characteristic of Gothic architecture. Its significance was both practical and decorative. The pointed arch effectively distributed the force of heavier ceilings and bulkier designs, and could support much more weight than previous, simple pillars. Earlier Romanesque churches had pointed arches, too, but builders didn’t capitalize on the shape.


The vaulted ceiling was an innovation which lead on from the achievements of the pointed arch.The arch also provided the impression of height and magnificence, giving the vaulted ceiling a feeling of grandeur and elegance.


More examples of of Gothic architecture…..

Notre-Dame de Reims –

Reims Kathedrale.jpg

Westminster Abbey –

The Abbey's western façade

Chartres Cathedral –

Art Nouveau:

Art Nouveau began in the 1900s, the style is often described as organic because it interprets nature and growth,the main temperaments of this style are use of curves and arches. The images below are of a building in Barcelona called Casa Batlló, and was designed by an architect called Antoni Gaudi, his intention in remodeling this house was to create a “paradise on Earth”. With barely a straight line in sight, Gaudí’s makeover provided Barcelona with one of it’s most enduring facades. Everything Gaudi design is identifiable as Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. Characteristics of this style such as curves and arches are used amongst this building design, especially on the roof.


Other examples below….

la Sagrada Familia                  Palau Güell                                                       Casa Amatller  


Advocates of Art Nouveau described it as a ‘total style’ and a ‘way of life’ — and people embraced it by bringing this decorative style into their households and supporting it in the fine arts as well. A great example of an Art Nouveu artist is Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, One of my favourite piece of art he created is At The Moulin Rouge (picture below). The oil canvas painting depicts the Moulin Rouge cabaret that opened in 1889. The painting that was created between 1892 and 1895 is a part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Other examples of Lautrec’s work…..


Art Deco:

A style started in Paris that would eventually spread round the world – finding its way into the design of New York’s Chrysler and Empire State buildings as well as London Underground’s stations and posters. Indeed, the art deco style is brilliantly captured in the travel posters of the time which convey the early excitement of travel by rail, motorcar and boat. Art Deco emerged after the end of World War I hitting the heights of it’s popularity in the 1930’s and 40’s then declined after World War II. The style is often characterised by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 14.17.47    Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 14.19.32


Modernism really took hold in Europe  where it became known as the international style and particularly in Germany, with the Bauhaus movement, and Italy. At a comparable time, England was caught up in the fashions of art deco, art nouveau and Edwardian style. It was not until after World War I that the influence of modernism really began to be felt.

Modernists believed that the design of an object should be based purely on its purpose that ‘form follows function’.


I particularly like the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Wright stood for the philosophy of “organic architecture,” which maintains that a building should develop out of its natural surroundings. His designs for both private and public structures were boldly original, and he rebelled against classic architecture and its traditional ornamentation.

The Boynton House. Photo courtesy Kim Bixler 

Another modernist artist I have come across is Peter Lanyon, I’ve choosen to show his work because its very simple and abstract, He was also one of the most important artists to emerge in post-war Britain. Despite his early death at the age of forty six he achieved a body of work that is amongst the most original and important reappraisals of modernism in painting to be found anywhere.


One of my favourite pieces of work he created is the Portleven abstract painting, This work exemplifies Lanyon’s idea of the ‘experiential landscape’, which involved approaching a place from different positions and combining these views with allusions to geology, history, culture and myth.


Arts and crafts:

The Arts and Crafts Movement began in Britain around 1880 and quickly spread to America, Europe and Japan. Inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, it advocated a revival of traditional handicrafts, a return to a simpler way of life and an improvement in the design of ordinary domestic objects.

I found an interesting paragraph about Morris and Ruskin on website, here’s the paragraph below…..

“The Arts and Crafts movement developed from the views of people such as William Morris (1834 – 1896). He was a poet and artist, who believed in a combination simplicity, good design and craft work. He believed that industrially manufactured items lacked the honesty of traditional craft work. His views and opinions were also supported by the artist / influential social intellectual, John Ruskin (1819 – 1900). As the movement grew in influence, architecture, furniture making and the decorative arts, such as interior design, started to display the simplicity and craft approach.”

  St. George Cabinet by William Morris, 1861/62, England, mahogany, pine and oak with copper mounts. Museum no. 341-1906, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London 

International Modernism:

In architecture, the term International style describes a type of design that developed mainly in Germany, Holland and France, during the 1920’s, before spreading to America in the 1930”s, where it became the dominant tendency in American architecture during the middle decades of the 20th century. Buildings in this style are characterised by straight lines and geometrical forms, with the use of metalwork, the extensive use of glass and cantilevered structural elements. rather similar to the Gothic movement tried to do.

One of the finest examples of the International Style in Britain is the Isokon Building in Hampstead, London. The Isokon Building is a four storey block designed by Wells Coates and built between 1933 and 1934. Constructed of concrete and painted white, the use of strong, geometric lines and cantilevered elements is indicative of the International Style.

The first International style house has a flat roof with a ledge and no decorative trim. The windows are set flush with walls, and the entrance is asymmetrical. The second building below was designed by Richard Neutra in Los Angeles in 1929, the Lovell House conveys clean lines and was said to have started a new race of buildings. It also has a flat roof and bands of glass windows.

VillaSavoye  1295446209-lovell-house

Post Modernism:

Postmodern style became a movement in the late 1970s and continues to influence present day architecture. It brought a radical freedom to art and design through gestures that were often funny, sometimes confrontational and occasionally absurd. Most of all, over the course of two decades, from about 1970 to 1990, postmodernism brought a new self-awareness about style itself.


Some Post Modern designers were inspired by the torn paper collage approach combined with, loose, spontaneous brush stroked used and other music promotions. The second poster is designed by Barbara Kruger, this is showing the use of overlapping bars with reverse lapping bars, this makes the book cover look post modern. Another example of a post modern poster is the 1984 olympics one design by Debra Sussman, its an intuitive collage approach wit odd combinations and random textures which make this a more classic poster modern poster.


Above are some examples of Post modern buildings and architecture, most of these buildings have been designed by Frank Gehry, who is a very famous architecture Gehry’s best-known works include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Gehry is widely known across the world for his post modern building creations.

Popular Culture:


Semiotics is the study of signs and sign processes, indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. For example Range Rovers show a sign that you’ve got money, and possibly the person who owns it lives in a rural area. Another example would be people with nice gardens, older people and pensioners tend to to take care of their garden better than a house full of students, who always busy. Semiotics can translate a picture from an image into words. Visual communication terms and theories come from linguistics, the study of language, and from semiotics, the science of signs. Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, and flavours, acts or objects, but such things have no natural meaning and become signs only when we provide them with meaning.

But it is not quite that simple. Every sign has or is a signifier that implies or suggests the signified. These signs are all around us, every day. A sign can be a word, a sound, an image, nearly anything we can perceive. From these signs we get meanings, perhaps cultural, perhaps personal. We can be manipulated by signs, such as with advertising, or entertained by signs, such as with art, or poetry. Semiotics is a science that can be applied to literature, art, advertising, everyday speech, and non-verbal communications.

A good example would be films, and TV Programs, films such as Kidulthood and The Inbetweeners you could say are aimed more at the more older teenagers, and the likes of Psycho and Schindler’s List are aimed at more older people. TV programs are particularly good example because programs houses and game shows like countdown are usually shown during the daytime, because older people are more likely to watch them, also the news and more children’s programs come on later in the evening because that when children and middle aged people come back from work. Also children’s programs and news programs always televise in a morning because that when people are going to work or in education. Dark and scary films is another example, these types of films are usually shown around a late night when young children are in bed.


Photography and Paintings:

The next lecture we had was on Photography and Paintings. I am going to look at how different artists and photographers combine the two together.

One of the first photographers we were introduced to is Tom Hunter. I personally think tom is different from other photographers, basing his photography on existing meaningful paintings but applying them to more recent occurences to create something that emulates the original but in a way that is significant today.


This painting named “The Hireling Shepherd” is an 1851 painting by William Holman Holt. As you can see The Shepherd  being distracted by this woman which in turn is letting his sheep wander. The sheep is also seen walking into a corn field in the right hand corner, this would kill an animal with no ability to throw up raw corn which in this case the sheep could be killed. The is in fact a criticism of the church. It symbolises the church hierarchy talking about latin lines, through the man showing the woman a butterfly, when they should be caring for the flock, some of whom are going astray. Whilst the painting looks very natural and romantic the deeper more ominous meaning behind it really makes it a enduring piece.


Tom Hunter replicates the painting in a modern style photograph. As I stated earlier Tom Hunter creates replicas of old paintings using modern day issues/occurrences. I think this photo is easier to understand than the painting. The man is approaching the woman trying to entice her with a cigarette and although she looks to be unconvinced or slightly impartial the fact that she is playing with her hair would say otherwise. The type of clothing would suggest that these two people are ‘hippies’ concerned with saving the planet, however in the background it shows there is a power plant/pylons. Suggesting that in fact they have not been paying attention to the environment. This shows how Tom hunter has linked the two images together and brought his work in to the present day.

Ophelia 1851-2 by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896  35

Here is another example of this is Ophelia, which was painted by John Everett Millais, The scene depicted is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Ophelia, driven out of her mind when her father is murdered by her lover Hamlet, drowns herself in a stream. Tom Hunter photographs this scene in a modern setting calling it ‘The Way Home’. I’d never really heard of Tom Hunter before, but on first appearance I really like his photography, even though it doesn’t look the most appealing. I love the concept behind his photography Im not really one these arty party people but his photography just seems to impress me. I personally think The Way Home is one of his strongest concepts. His inspiration comes from headlines, he then tries create the feelings of the headline using the template of a traditional painting.

hiroshi-sugimoto-lightning-fields-236  pl_arts_sugimoto5_f  lightningfields119_2009-574x716

When researching I come across a photographer called Hiroshi Sugimoto. Hiroshi created Lightning Fields which is a series of dramatic and spectacular photographs produced through the play of violent electrical discharges on photographic film. Placing the film directly on a metal plate in the darkroom, Sugimoto charged a a Van de Graaff Generator, releasing 100,000 volts via a metal rod. Despite not having any meaning behind the photographs, the thing that interests me the most is the different methods people use to make there photographs look quirky and unique.


lastsupper_spoof18  Lego-Last-Supper-e1359559029404

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous paintings in the world that has been recreated/imitated by a lot of different artists or people. This style of work is called Pastiche. A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates. Above are two examples of parodies, the first one a section of different clowns, and the second one a lego star wars theme. Here is a link below looking more in to The Last Supper.


When we were introduced to some paintings to look at we come across a painting called “The swing” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The image shows the young nobleman is not only getting an interesting view up the lady’s skirt, but she is being pushed into this position by her priest-lover, shown in the rear. It is a conspiracy of the two lovers whose flirtatious little game goes not only unnoticed by the old man, but where he is in fact an active participant in this concealed peep show. Furthermore, the painting is filled with symbolism. In the 18th century France, a woman’s shoeless foot symbolised nudity, as did the man’s uncovered head and his hat, reaching towards the young girl’s parted legs. The two cherubs behind suggest she is no angel and has turned her back on being good.

Aesthetic Theories

This lecture was all about Aesthetic Theories, Aesthetic Theories is all about how do we judge whether what we’re doing is any good.

We come across one idea in our lecture which is Intentionalism, ‘does the it do what the creator wanted it to do.’ a good definition for intentionalism is “Intentionalism in aesthetics is, quite generally, the thesis that the artist’s or artists’ intentions have a decisive role in the creation of a work of art, and that knowledge of such intentions is a necessary component of at least some adequate interpretive and evaluative claims.” A great example of this is the Chelsea Flower show, which gets judged on what the intention is about.or in this case what the intention of the garden is.

screen-shot-2014-05-20-at-07-27-40  Chelsea-Show

Another one is Formalism, In art history, formalism is the study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style—the way objects are made and their purely visual aspects. Linking Formalism with Photography, Art and Graphic Design, I would look at depth of field, colour form, and rhythm harmony, and even the likes of composition, hierarchy, type and layout.

The last one is Interventionism, Art intervention is an interaction with a previously existing artwork, audience, venue/space or situation. It has the auspice of conceptual art and is commonly a form of performance art. It is associated with the Viennese Actionists, the Dada movement and Neo-Dadaists. It has also been made much use of by the Stuckists to affect perceptions of other artwork which they oppose, and as a protest against an existing intervention. ‘Its not what it looks like its what it does’ a fantastic example of this is the Benton campaign, which is a clothing company who are recognised for their disturbing poster advertsiments. Another good example is the Rebel Clown Army who are anti-authoritarian left-wing activist group that uses clowning and non-violent tactics to act against corporate globalisation, war, and on other issues.

benetton-advertisment-showing-new-diaporama  benetton2

Clown_Army_erschreckt_Polizisten  keynote-pic-2

Another great example is the Iraq torture image. This image shocked the world when it was released during the height of the Iraq war in 2004. It was one of a handful that depicted the torture of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of US Army personnel in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. This was an unintentional act as it wasn’t meant to be seen around the world.


Personal Approach – Colour

For my topic choice for contextual studies I have decided to choose colour. I have always been interested in colour, Colour is used throughout near enough everything. Also colour is an element of visual language that people process before they are consciously aware of it.

Earliest Times of Colour

The ancient Egyptians have been recorded to have been using colour for cures and ailments.They worshipped the sun, knowing that without light there can be no life. They looked at nature and copied it in many aspects of their lives. The floors of their temples were often green as the grass which then grew alongside their river, which is the Nile. Blue was a very important colour to the Egyptians too; the colour of the sky. They built temples for healing and used gems (crystals) through which the sunlight shone. They would have different rooms for different colours. We could perhaps relate our present methods of colour/light therapy to this ancient practice.

ancient-egyptians-used-colo-2  colourbandFG0FGFGFG

Early Colour Studies

Some of the early colour studies and theories about light were done by Aristotle.He discovered that by mixing two colours, a third is produced. He did this with a yellow and blue piece of glass, which when brought together produced green. He also discovered that light travels in waves.

images  aristotleoncolor

Sir Isaac Newton

A pioneer in the field of colour, Isaac Newton in 1672, published his first, controversial paper on colour, and forty years later, his work ‘Opticks’.Newton passed a beam of sunlight through a prism. When the light came out of the prism is was not white but was of seven different colours: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. The spreading into rays was called dispersion by Newton and he called the different coloured rays the spectrum. He learnt that when the light rays were passed again through a prism the rays turned back into white light. If only one ray was passed through the prism it would come out the same colour as it went in. Newton concluded that white light was made up of seven different coloured rays.

sir-isaac-newton-color-wheel-230x300  024_harris1a

Colour Theory

Colour theory encompasses a multiple of definitions, concepts and design applications. However, there are three basic categories of colour theory that are logical and useful. The colour wheel, colour harmony, and the context of how colours are used.

The Colour Wheel –

A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. As I stated earlier ‘Sir Isaac Newton’ developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. Differences of opinion about the effectivness of one format over another continue to provoke debate. In reality, any colour circle or color wheel which presents a logically arranged sequence of pure hues has merit.

There are also definitions of colours based on the colour wheel.


Primary Colours: Red, yellow and blue
In traditional colour theory, primary colours are the 3 pigment colours that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colours. All other colours are derived from these 3 hues.

Secondary Colours: Green, orange and purple

These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colours.

Tertiary Colours: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colours formed by mixing a primary and a secondary colour. That’s why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Colour Harmony –

Harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts, whether it be music, poetry, colour, or even an ice cream sundae.

In visual experiences, harmony is something that is gratifying to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either dull or turbulent. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so insipid that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it can not organise, what it can not understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Colour harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

Here are some formulas for colour harmony….


A color scheme based on corresponding colours. Corresponding colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Normally one of the three colors predominates.


A color scheme based on complementary colours. Complementary colors are any two colors which are directly opposite each other, such as red and purple and orange and green and yellow-green. In the illustration above, there are several variations of yellow-green in the leaves and several variations of red and purple in the orchid. These opposing colors create maximum contrast and maximum stability.


A color scheme based on nature. Nature provides a perfect departure point for colour harmony. In the illustration above, red yellow and green create a harmonious design, regardless of whether this combination fits into a technical formula for colour harmony.

Colour Context 

How color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes is a complex area of colour theory.
Different readings of the same colour


If your computer has sufficient colour stability and gamma correction you will see that the small purple rectangle on the left appears to have a red-purple tinge when compared to the small purple rectangle on the right. They are both the same colour as seen in the illustration below. This demonstrates how three colors can be perceived as four colours.


Observing the effects colours have on each other is the starting point for understanding the relativity of colour. The relationship of values, saturations and the warmth or coolness of respective hues can cause noticeable differences in our perception of colour.

James Turrell –

An artist who specifies some of his work amongst colour is James Turrell who is an American artist primarily concerned with Light, space and colour. In the 1960s, by manipulating light rather than paint or sculptural material, James Turrell introduced an art that was not an object but an experience in perception.

James-Turrell-Las-Vegas  main_image

His best piece of artwork in my opinion is ‘the colour inside’ Skyscape. The reason I like the colour inside Skyspace the best is because it focuses on colour the most. During sunset and sunrise, coloured lights illuminate the walls and contrast the natural skylight. This effects the way we see the sky and different produces, the experience of James Turrells art.

The colour inside is the eighty forth skycap designed by James Turrell, and one of twelve to open to the public in the United States. Each Skyspace is different and not all have the light sequences at sunrise and sunset.

Alberto Seveso

Alberto Seveso is an Italian artist specialising in illustration, graphic design and photography. Born in Milan, Seveso currently lives and works as a freelance artst from his hometown of Portoscuso, Sardinia, Italy. Alberto’s artistic passion grew from an early fascination with skateboard deck graphics and album artwork for metal bands. He has since developed his own unique style which you can explore on his personal website as well as Behance, where his projects have garnered almost 1.3 million views. In his ongoing exploration with high-speed photography and colour, Seveso drops plumes of various inks into water, capturing the organic shapes that form with a high-speed camera. The results are breathtaking and the ongoing series continues to amaze.

images-3  high-speed-photographs-of-ink-in-water-alberto-seveso-3  high-speed-photos-of-ink-and-metal-dropped-into-water-by-alberto-seveso-10

Alberto also creates his own slow motion videos. In my opinion I think think what Alberto does is really create and out of the box, I love the different colour tones that have been merged and mixed together, I think each one of his designs give a really powerful tonal variated effect amongst his designs. This is the type of method I could possibly use in the future.

Here are two more Ink in water videos…

Below is my attempt at making one, this is a video I created similar to the ones above, obviously the quality isn’t great because I had a poor camera. But overall I am very happy with how the video has turned out.

This link shows a PDF of my presentation. Contextual Studies << Colour Presentation

I love how I’ve been inspired by an artist who experiments with colour, I think my video is a great answer to my personal approach, I mean you can do anything with colour, but I thought it would be more interesting to use this technique. Benefiting from this I have learned a few new skills, such as iMovie, and how to use a Nikon 300 camera. Overall I found Colour very alluring, its an area of graphics I will always be interested in.