This week, one of my assignments is to write about design history. I was especially interested in 1920s Russian Suprematism and Constructivism. Although both art movements were after WWI and started in Russian, but I thought the artists/designers at that time were facing the similar changes as we have it now in USA.
Our country has slip into two majors political views:capitalism and socialism. Someone said, history repeats itself. Have you see some of the posters design lately? Certainly, the design style has been reapplied to this modern time, and the designer of this poster gave us a new layer of meaning behind it.
If you are new to the Russian art movements, let me give you a short introduction.
INTRODUCTION TO THE ERA
Looking back through the history of design, the 1920s (Industrial Society era) was a very interesting time in Russian history, as well as in design history. The1920s was the period of time that Russian artists divided into two ideological art movements: Suprematism and Constructivism.
Suprematism focuses on geometric forms and believes that the role of the artist should be to throw out the old order and conservative art. This movement was led by Kasimir Malevich. The suprematists devoted their effort to support the Red Army and the Bolsheviks, and produced massive propaganda posters.
Constructivism believes that the role of the artist is to serve the needs of society. Constructivists called on artists to stop producing useless things and advocated using art for practical applications. They devoted themselves to industrial design and visual communication. The movement, which was led by Vladimir Tatlin, later became one of the most influential ideologues for modern design.
The biggest patron for both art movements is Russian Government.
MOST INFLUENTIAL DESIGNER
One of the most influential designers in this time period was a Russian Jew, EL Lissitzky. He was a multi-talented artist, typographer, architect, and designer. He was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant garde. His famous designs included 1925 advertisement designs for Pelikan Industries; the 1926 exhibition room for the International Kunstausstellung art show in Dresden, and displays for the official Soviet pavilions at the international exhibitions; the 1927 All-Union Polygraphic Exhibit in Moscow; the 1928 Press Show, a pavilion design revolving around the theme of a film show in USSR.
Lissitzky often used drafting instrument construction and paste up to achieve his designs. One of the most influential graphic designs was the book The Isms of Art 1914-1924. In that book, he created the visual program for organizing information into a grid system, balancing white space, using halftones and large bold sans serif. He also explored the potential of montage and photomontage for complex communications messages.
The style in this period often used bold color, bold and large sans serif font, diagonal axis, asymmetrical balance, and photomontage. More poster usage examples can be found at Bolchevisks.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Some said, Shepard Fairey, the designer for the Obama Poster, challenges the traditional patriotic symbolism of the flag which has become and image of economic and military power that underlies this freedom we have. And both Fairey and Obama wanted to send a different message—a message of hope.
If you understand the history in that period, what do you think about the Obama’s Poster? While I was writing my little essay, it got me interested in the little symbol on the poster—”Obama’s icon”—the rising sun.
Some said, it looks like a Pepsi logo, what do you think? One thing is certain, this icon has been broadly used, and it is the first time in US history that we have created a brand for the US president, Barack Obama.
Check this youtube video. Whether you agreed or not, but you have to agree that we can’t ignore the power of design.