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Herbert Bayer (1900-1985)

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Herbert Bayer is forgotten by many, but he definitely is one of the most important designers/artists from last century. He studied at the Bauhaus and was at one time educated by Kandinsky and Klee.

In the spirit of reductive minimalism, Bayer developed a crisp visual style and adopted use of all-lowercase, sans serif typefaces for most Bauhaus publications.[3] Bayer is one of several typographers of the period including Kurt Schwitters and Jan Tschichold who experimented with the creation of a simplified more phonetic-based alphabet. From 1925 to 1930 Bayer designed a geometric sans-serif Proposal for a Universal Typeface[1] that existed only as a design and was never actually cast into real type.[4] These designs are now issued in digital form as Bayer Universal.[2] The design also inspired ITC Bauhaus and Architype Bayer, which bears comparison with the stylistically related typeface Architype Schwitters.

Then his life changed drastically. In 1944 Bayer married Joella Syrara Haweis, the daughter of poet and Dada artist Mina Loy. The same year, he became a U.S. citizen. The result….Many lost interest in the works by Bayer, he did some typography and made some fonts, but gained again some importance in collecting over 30.000 works of art for the ARCO company. Still Herbert Bayer is recognized again as one of the more important artists from the Bauhaus era and this means his works start to grow in importance again.

www.ftn-books.com has some Bayer titles available.

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Albert Gleizes (1881-1953)

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A misunderstanding from my part is that i always thought Gleizes to be a Suisse artist, but he isn’t, he is French and that places his works among other French Cubist artist to compare. So not Hodler was the greatest influence on his works, it is that what i thought to be true, but far more other contemporaries from the French art scene like Metzinger, Delaunay and Le Fauconier, who were his sparring partners in art. Self proclaimed founder of Cubism his works are among the best cubist works i know of and these art works build a bridge into the art of the Bauhaus that was more than interested in the ideas by Gleizes. Gleizes has not become the great name in art you should have expected, but became a “niche” artist, who received some special exhibitions in the Netherlands in the last few decades. Not the grand scale exhibitions you would expect with such an important artist. Maybe the future will bring the recognition Gleizes deserves but for the meantime you have only some nice exhibition catalogues which are available at www.ftn-books.com

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El Lissitzky (1890-1941)

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Here is an artist who’s works were very well known from the very first beginning of his career. Suprematism being one of the key collection parts of the Stedelijk Museum, El Lissitzky soon became part of this great and important collection. Because of this large collection part, an interest in his works was aroused from the very first beginning resulting in some purchases by important collectors and acquiring works by museum for their collections. Among them; Stedelijk Museum, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Boymans van Beuningen and the van Abbemuseum.

There is so much to be told about El Lissitzky as an artist because he was a true multi talented artist. A Painter, sculptor , architect and designer all within the same person. One aspect of his career i would like to mention specially. His graphic design.

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El Lissitzky is the 9th person from the left

During his stay in Germany Lissitzky also developed his career as a graphic designer with some historically important works such as the books Dlia Golossa (For the Voice), a collection of poems from Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Die Kunstismen (The Artisms) together with Jean Arp. In Berlin he also met and befriended many other artists, most notably Kurt Schwitters, László Moholy-Nagy, and Theo van Doesburg. Together with Schwitters and van Doesburg, Lissitzky presented the idea of an international artistic movement under the guidelines of constructivism while also working with Kurt Schwitters on the issue Nasci (Nature) of the periodical Merz, and continuing to illustrate children’s books. The year after the publication of his first Proun series in Moscow in 1921, Schwitters introduced Lissitzky to the Hanover gallery kestnergesellschaft, where he held his first solo exhibition. The second Proun series, printed in Hanover in 1923, was a success, utilizing new printing techniquesLater on, he met Sophie Küppers, who was the widow of Paul Küppers, an art director of the kestnergesellschaft at which Lissitzky was showing, and whom he would marry in 1927.

There are some really nice El Lissitzky publications available at www.ftn-books.com.

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László Moholy-Nagy ( 1895-1946)

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László Moholy-Nagy  born László Weisz; July 20, 1895 – November 24, 1946) was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as a professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts.

This is how the Wikipedia article on László Moholy-Nagy begins. I know the art by him as complicated constructions of threads and pieces of metal, but it was not until some 15 years ago that i discovered a book on his “photograms” and it immediately fascinated me. It was the link between painting and photography, showing details of hands and objects turning them into abstract works of art.

With his photograms, such as Photogram with Eiffel Tower (1925-1929), Moholy-Nagy experimented with the abstract potential of a traditionally documentary medium. The artist’s photography was also distinguished by its abstract qualities achieved through his bold experimentation with perspective. Among Moholy-Nagy’s three-dimensional works, the best known is Light Prop for an Electric Stage (1930), a mechanical sculpture that used light as a material and cast shifting shadows on the walls around it.

Www.ftn-books.com has some very nice László Moholy-Nagy publications available

 

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Wilhelm Wagenfeld (1900-1900)

If only one object from the Bauhaus has reached an iconic standing in world design it is the Bauhaus lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. It is still produced in its original dimension and materials and is one of the design classics from last century. It was such a success in interior design in the last 3 decades that many copies were produced and sold.

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The only original one is done by Tecnolumen, but for much less you can buy an excellent copy. But beside the lamp Wagenfeld designed many more items. teapots, cutlery, candle sticks, door knobs but all with one specific design element. The design had to be “clean”. No curls and no ornaments…just functional design. Wagenfeld was  a true master of this clean design and influence with his designs many of the 20th century designers, including some dutch designers like Kho Liang Ie and Martin Visser , who’s designs were simple and functional .

the Bauhaus Lamp is probably the most iconic piece of lighting to come out of the Bauhaus, William Wagenfeld’s lamp, constructed of precisely cut glass and metal, is among the first objects to emerge under the Bauhaus’ technology-focused regime.

This a description as it is found on the internet, but i would like to add something else…William Wagenfeld is probably the first designer who respected the material and functionality of an object and taught this to his students. It is not the lamp that is iconic, but for me it is the designer, who is the grand master and who designed/invented the iconic Bauhaus lamp. www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications on Wagenfeld ( also one by Sandberg).

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Paul Renner (1878-1956) and ….the FUTURA typeface

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If ever a typeface by Paul Renner is known to the large public it must be the Futura. A typical Art Deco type typeface which is nowadays a classic and easily can substitute the very popular Helvetica and is present aas a standard font on practically every computer. The Futura dates from 1927 when it was first launched by Paul Renner.

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On August 9, 1878, Paul Friedrich August Renner was born in Wernigerode which then was located in the Prussian state. His father was an evangelical theologian who is reason behind his strict Protestant upbringing. He grew up to develop a German sense of leadership, responsibility and duty. Renner received his formal education from a secondary school, Gymnasium. After nine years of learning Greek and Latin, Renner opted to study arts at several different academies. In 1926, he accepted the position of the head at the Printing Trade School in Münich. Later he established and became director of the Master School for Germany’s Printers. While studying, he grew suspicious of abstract art form and developed repulsion for some forms of modern culture including dancing, cinema and jazz.

However, Renner was equally fascinated by the functionalist strain in modernism. Therefore, it would not seem wrong to perceive Renner’s work as a bridge between nineteenth and twentieth century tradition. One example can be his successful attempt at merging two fundamentally different typefaces together such as Roman typeface and Gothic. Moreover, he was a significant member of German Work Federation. He lent his expertise in developing a new set of guidelines for good book design. He was closely associated with another noted typographer Jan Tschichold. They both became part of the ongoing heated ideological and artistic debates. Renner took a stand against Nazi movement and made his position very clear and public through his scandalous booklet, titled Kulturbolschewismus(Cultural Bolshevism). It was published in 1932 and overtly condemned Nazi’s cultural policy.

In 1933, when Nazi rose to power they dismissed Renner from his post at the school and labeled him an intellectual subversive, a ‘Cultural Bolshevist’. He went into a period of internal exile after his arrest. Renner aspired to communicate his opinion of culture and tried to influence it through his writing, teaching and designing. He utilized his intellect and aesthetic skills to alter the fundamental landscape of material and spiritual form of life. As to communicate his view of high cultural standards, he invested his creative talent in applied arts designing books and typefaces. Furthermore, being a voracious reader, Renner’s ideals were influenced by prominent scholarly figures, such as Nietzsche, Goethe, Kant and Schiller. He began writing from 1908 onwards and prolifically produced work on design and typography.

Renner’s notable works include Die Kunst der Typographie (The Art of Typography) and Typografie als Kunst (Typography as Art). In these works he set the guideline for sophisticated book designs. Additionally, he played a significant role in inventing the popular Futura. The modern typographers even in the present time used this geometric sans-serif font frequently. Another one of his creations, Architype Renner is evolved from his early experimental exploration of geometric letterforms. His Steile Futura typeface was later transformed into Tasse which came out posthumously. Paul Renner’s valuable contribution to graphic design and typography includes works, such as Das moderne Buch, Vom Geheimnis der Darstellung, Ordnung und Harmonie der Farben and typefaces Renner Antiqua and Ballade.

www.ftn-books.com has a great book on Renner available

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Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (1953-1968)

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Only 15 years the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm was active and it was one of the first institutions in the world where you could fhave an education and follow lectures in design. After the Bauhaus it was the leading centre in the world on design and responsible for many great “timeless” designs of which the Lufthansa corporate design is probably the most best known.

The importance of this educational centre which was co founded by Max Bill and had ao. Johannes Itten ( see blog from a few days ago) as a teacher was recognized by Willem Sandberg who organized an exhibition in 1965 on the “Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm” and the catalogue which appeared together with this exhibition has become one of the rarest and most collectable Stedelijk Museum catalogues ever. Wim Crouwel designed this catalogue. Oblong format, grey cover, very nice typography ….the catalogue has become a statement for good and simple design, readability and beauty. The designs within the catalogues are beautiful, but the catalogue itself is arguably even better.

This catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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There is a great timeline to discover the Hochschule at :

http://www.hfg-archiv.ulm.de/english/the_hfg_ulm/timeline.html

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Johannes Itten (1888-1967)… Art & Color

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Johannes Itten. Not many know him, but through the years he has been acknowledged as being one of the teachers who developed  the most important “color theory” in art.

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Johannes Itten (11 November 1888 – 25 March 1967) was a Swiss expressionist painter, designer, teacher, writer and theorist associated with the Bauhaus (Staatliches Bauhaus) school. Together with German-American painter Lyonel Feininger and German sculptor Gerhard Marcks, under the direction of German architect Walter Gropius, Itten was part of the core of the Weimar Bauhaus.

But for me there is more about Itten. In 1957 the Stedelijk Museum devoted an exhibition to Itten. The catalogue of the exhibition was designed by Willem Sandberg , who made it one of the most iconic Stedelijk Museum catalogues from the 50’s. This catalogue is still available at www.ftn-books.com. But there si more on Itten and the Stedelijk Museum to be told, because Itten also designed one of the velums ( ceiling coverings) for the Stedelijk. It is rarely on show, but there is a nice publication on the project also available at www.ftn-books.com

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It is just a painting by …Kandinsky

…..and there are many more far more important Kandinsky paintings than the one recently sold at a record price.

Source is Blouin art info. This is what i read this morning and shows exactly what i was talking about yesterday.

Sotheby’s has smashed the auction record for Wassily Kandinsky not just once but twice during its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in London.

“Murnau – Landschaft mit grünem Haus” 1909 was the first to break the artist’s previous auction record of $23.3 million when it sold for £21 million / $26.4 million.

Six lots later “Bild mit weissen Linien” 1913 broke the record for the second time, selling for a monumental £33 million / $41.6 million.

The sale also achieved a new auction record for Joan Miro in sterling with the artist’s “Femme et oiseaux” 1940 selling for £24,571,250.

Sotheby’s, Actual Size and Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales achieved a combined total of £148.9 Million / $187.7 Million / €169.5 Million, with the three top sales marking the first time that three works have sold for over £20 million in a London auction.

Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “To have three landmarks in the development of 20th Century art by Kandinsky, Miró and Giacometti come to the market in a single sale tonight was momentous.”

“Collectors were out in force, participating from a record number of locations around the globe, with the level of Asian buyers as numerous as those from the US, underscoring the enduring importance of London as a key driver of the global art market,” she added.

Art has become an investment and something to break records with. Accessible to the “Happy Few”, but art is more than just a record at an auction sale. Art is a very personal experience. In which it moves you, reaches out to you and eventually stays with you the rest of your life. There are some Kandinsky books available at www.ftn-books.com

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Joost Swarte …En Toen de Stijl

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“En toen de stijl” is the new publication by Joost Swarte . Book is published in cooperation between the publisher LEOPOLD and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Personally i think this is the best publication by Swarte from the last 10 years. It brings the story of de STIJL mouvement in illustrations of the famous members of the DE STIJL group. Illustrations on Mondrian, van Doesburg, Huszar,  Zwart, Oud, Torres Garcia, Verzuu, Bauhaus, van der Leck and Rietveld tell the story on de STIJL. Perfect publication and published with isbn.9789025872380

and the invitation to the launch of the book is available at www.ftn-books.comand when you look closely at the illustration on Ko Verzuu, you see the manufacture of the ADO/ BESTELDIENST which is also available at www.ftn-books.com

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