Design History of Two Artists

El Lissitzky

‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge’ by El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky was a Constructivist Artist, Designer, Typographer who designed lots of propaganda for the Soviet Union. His development of ideas helped shaped Bauhaus and Constructivist movements. He has made lots of work in the Constructivist Field especially one of his works called ‘Beat the whites with the Red Wedge’. The design was made in 1917 and the purpose was to send a message to their allies and enemies about their intentions. This composition gives the impression that the red triangle is invading the circle, or even ‘stabbing’ it. This context can be understood by the fact that Lissitzky was making designs for the Soviet Union and the likely representation being the red triangle as the soviet allies and the white circle as killing the anti-communist army. This design piece uses Hard Shapes, Warm Tones, Overlapping, Clustering together of letters, Repetition and shapes among others. The Hard shapes are noticeable in the Red wedge and the white circle, making it the central focus. Warm Tones are use in this piece because of the red, which is a warm colour, and the unintentional yellowing of the paper gives it a warm atmosphere. The overlapping is present in the small squares besides the circle and give the impression that the circle is in the foreground. Clustering is also used, with the red objects clustering near each other to create the sense of unity through colour. The repetition of rectangles on both sides makes the painting feel more whole and can represent infantry level soldiers in the war. There are also some elements of Kinetic Sequencing that can come from the small rectangles, representing a busy force of people. There is a lot of contrast between the colours that make it stand out. Geometric forms, and a minimal colour palette of Black, White and Red solidify the image. It also has elements of a collage piece with the forms overlapping. The image has a visual hierarchy of seeing the darkest colour first (black) and then the most vibrant colour, which is the red.

Another one of El Lissitzky’s works

There is an implied circle around the object and it is very abstract in its design The Visual Pathway of the image flows straight from the triangle’s direction to the big circle. The Circle shape creates a point of focus for the viewer and leads us to look at the red triangle entering the circle. The Circle is also a great example of Negative Space, as the white background is the circle, and the foreground of black creates the impression that it is a circle. The Soviets were known as the “Red Army” in the war and the colour white can be seen as a “pure” colour so it represents the Allies. The image has Implied Space, as it draws comparisons to viewing an old specimen under a microscope and feels like an extreme closeup. Altogether, El Lissitzky sought to represent the struggle of WW1 and to depict his version of the war through his design knowledge, as thus became one of the pioneers of Constructivism, outlining its distinctive tri-toned colour and geometrical shape.

Max Bill

Advertisement for the Munich Games by Max Bill

Swiss Modernism in general is characterised as a very minimalist style, with emphasis on orderly typography (if there are words) and orderly sequence of items resembling the form of a grid or straight lines. Background is usually a single colour. It has clustering of different colours, sometimes to create a 3D effect on the text or background. This style mostly uses a grid to separate the information in a structured alignment. No bleeding or layering effects are used. The structure aims to give clarity to the expression. Max Bill is a Swiss Modernist Artist born in Winterthur, Switzerland, and has created many objects and artworks for Design. He had also studied Bauhaus and one of his teachers was Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneer an abstract art, not Swiss Modernism. Max Bill has made a variety of items relating to the style, including Junghans Clock and a Pavilion Sculpture and is a known architect, sculptor and designer.

Max Bill’s version of Junghans Clock

However, the one I am looking at today is an artwork he did for the Olympic Games in Munich. In Max Bill’s Image, he created an image that was high in saturation and contrast, and all of the colours immediately draw your eye. The tone is very bright in this image, but a scale cannot be measured as it is a more abstract work. The point of focus is in the centre white diamond, as it is the brightest. Bill uses Shapes, Structure, Cropping, Implied Space and Perspective in his Olympic Poster work. The shapes can be seen as rectangles, triangles and one diamond in the middle. This gives his artwork a clear look by sectioning it into categories. The Structure is unique, as it is completely symmetrical except for the colours. It can also have the effect of being cropped with the thick lines, but as it is a geometric image it is hard to tell if it was intentional, also correlating with Implied Space. The image also does a great job of conveying perspective to the viewer, as it could resemble a wall of a house or the rectangles can appear to come closer or further away to the viewer and can create a 3D effect. No texture is used in the drawing as it is completely flat. Bill uses very bright warm colours, that can uplift the viewer when they look at it. The work can also resemble a colour wheel in that it is slowly changing colours from one side to the next, creating a harmonious image. There is no black and white in this image. There are no distinctive lines in this image that make up the shape, it is purely the border between the colours. Bill was also very politically active and was known as an educator and incorporated them into his body of work. This work was created for the Olympic Games, and the goal was to create a vibrant work that people would see and recognise as a staple of the games. The work is intended to be an advertisement for the games and with the Swiss Style, it gains recognition as a unique artwork.

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