“The only quality I really have an appreciation for is newness.” – Helmut Krone

Helmut Krone (1925-1996):

Helmut Krone was an American advertising art director who was considered a pioneer of modern advertising. Born in Yorkville, Manhattan, he started his design career at 29 at Doyle Dane Bernbach where he would continue to work (except for a short time in the early ’70s) for the next 30 years and practically his entire career.

Before the term “branding” had even come to exist, Krone already understood how graphic design could define an institution’s personality. He was always after a product’s individual personality and this “total way of speaking”. He believed that the ad that reflects the company is the company itself.

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Illustration’s Early Masters: Coles Phillips (1880-1927)

Coles Phillips:

Coles Phillips was an American illustrator that was the first to introduce the Art Deco styles into advertising design. He created illustrations of magazine covers of very modern and seductively designed women by using radical techniques. This became his signature trademark, the “Fadeaway Girl”, which became a hallmark throughout his career. While other illustrators created more elegant images, Phillips used a certain cerebral approach and design device to create his “Fadeaway Girl” technique. He cleverly linked the background colour surrounding the model’s dress to its colour so that she would give the impression of being close and far away at the same time. To do so he subtly combined the foreground and background by using the same colour to add to his other uses of unique compositions and themes, and pastels.

I thoroughly enjoy Coles Phillips’ illustrations. Especially, his “Fadeaway Girl”, the technique that he was famously known for. The contrast between the flatly coloured dress and the model’s exposed flesh is well used and if I were to live during his time, I would’ve definitely been enamoured in the ads he illustrated for. I also appreciate the “simplicity” he has managed to display in his illustrations as I know that to successfully pull it off, extensive planning must’ve been used.

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Beginnings to the Golden Age: Thomas Crane (1843-1915)

Thomas Crane:

Thomas Crane was an English illustrator known for his ornamental designs and embellishments. He became the Director of Design at the London office of Marcus Ward and Co. where he supervised the design and sale of Christmas cards, a product popular in the 1880s. In addition, he frequently worked on illustrations for both the company’s Christmas cards and children’s books. Marcus Ward and Co.’s Christmas cards were known for their quality and were popular with art collectors. His designs of the Christmas cards have been praised by art critics, especially on the appropraite and most refined ornamentation on the borders and backs. Aside from his time at Marcus Ward and Co., Crane had also produced a series of celebrated books with other contemporary illustrators.

Thomas Crane is also known for his designs of needlework patterns. He was chosen as one of several artists to create needlework patterns for the Royal School of Needlework. His designs had helped the revival of artistic needlework and ornamental embroidery.

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Women in Art: Lee Krasner (1908-1984)

Lee Krasner:

Lee Krasner was an American Abstract Expressionist known for her unique contribution to the advent of Abstract Expressionism. She was a key transitional figure within abstraction and did this by connecting early twentieth-century art with new ideas of postwar America. As a significant postwar American painter, she had great artistic versatility and advanced skill with intensive training in art theory. She helped devise the “all-over” technique which influenced her husband’s, Jackson Pollock, “drip paintings”. Another technique/strategy she used was to take “breaks” in order to revise her aesthetic, allowing her to improvise her art style. For example, her paintings/collages show her exploration of colours and graceful rhythmic forms.

Krasner developed her own style of geometric abstraction that was grounded in floral motifs and rhythmic gestures. She was unique in terms of her commitment to using hard-edged figurative elements and a certain amount of cerebral control. This is contrastive to the less-controlled automatism that was practiced by her contemporaries.

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Contemporary and Post Modernism: Cy Twombly (1928-2011)

Cy Twombly:

Cy Twombly was an American painter whose character painting style comprised of expressive drips and active, scribbled, and scratched lines on solid fields of mostly neutral colours (grey, tan, or off-white). A sophisticated and emotional painter, his art situates itself in the context of the history of Western civilization and the process-orientated aspects of Abstract Expressionism. He balanced the static history of the past with his own sensual and emotional responses to it, focussing on his immediate surroundings and combining aspects of both traditional European sources and new American painting. Examples of these inspirations included French neoclassicism, contemporary graffiti on ancient local walls, and Greek and Roman mythology, history, and places.

A major conceptual foundation of his abstract art was writing and language; he was focussed on the written word and the process of writing. These qualities took on forms of identifiable doodles and splotches or words directly on the canvas or line-based compositions that were usually inspired by handwriting. These creations suggested subtle narratives that lied beneath the surfaces of his paintings and coincided with his interest in layering time and history, painting and drawing, and various meanings and associations.

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2 Fronts of Poster Design (1915-1925) (History Book Spread Orange)

History Book Spread

For this history book spread, I was assigned to create a comparative spread for the time period 1915-1925 on the subject of “design/type”. Thus, I decided to create a spread comparing the traditional pictorial approach that the UK and the UK continued to use versus the Constructivist style that the Russians used in their posters.

While both styles were drastically different, they did have one thing in common. Both design styles were used as a call for action: the Russians and their revolution against Communism, and the UK/US and their demand for support in World War 1. By using the shouting figure on the left side of the spread, I have emulated this call for action and created movement in relation to the intense events that happened during this time period.

One of the major decisions I made was the use of papercraft to create the spread. Since Russian Constructivist posters used bold colours and shapes, I decided to use construction paper for the entire spread to keep in sync with the style. However, since the UK/US’ pictorial approach mainly used drawing mediums such as watercolour, I decided to draw the images for the UK/US side with pencil crayon to keep with that style while adding a border around each image so that it could fit with the construction paper approach.

The use of the shouting figure in Constructivism was one of the most popular motifs and so I used this image to represent Constructivism. I used Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam to represent the UK/US as they are also popular and important figures in their poster designs. In terms of colour, I only used red, black, and white for Constructivism just as the Constructivists did. For the Western powers, I used the colours of red, blue, and white- both the colours of the US and the UK. In addition, I wanted to contrast the difference between the two sides so by using the red vs blue concept I have created more emphasis on the idea of opposing sides. This is also present in the black and white borders around the differing sides.

Overall, I think I did a good job with this spread. I had a lot of fun with making this spread (such as cutting out every letter and shape) and by only using papercraft, I have kept consistent throughout the spread. I am especially pleased with the use of the figure and connecting it to the borders. I would have liked to add more motifs around the text but at the same time, I also think that that would have made the spread too busy when the poster design back then only used a few important figures/motifs. I give myself a 9/10 for this spread.

Survey 10: Less Than Satisfactory

Fortune and the Führer (1930-1945)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about the Great Depression, the Second World War, and European designers in America. During the Great Depression in America, many jobs were created by the US Works Progress Administration in an attempt to stimulate the economy. These included the Farm Security Administration (an organization that tried to improve the lifestyle of American farmers during the depression) and commissioning artists to create posters for public services/events. In 1933, the Nazi party was elected in Germany and they used extensive propaganda to spread their racist goals and ideals. Artists, such as Helmut Franz Josef Herzfield aka John Heartfield, were named Degenerate artists as Hitler believed that modern art was bad.

Several European designers including Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold fled to America when World War 2 broke out. Edward McKnight Kauffer, as well as many other artists, were involved in creating posters for World War 2. Walter Paepcke, the son of a German immigrant, founded the Container Corporation of America (CCA) and hired many European designers to design his posters. Such as A.M. Cassandre, Jean Carlu, and Herbert Bayer. Fortunato Depero was another designer who moved to the US.

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Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art: Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)

Ad Reinhardt:

Ad Reinhardt was an American abstract artist who was a major influence on conceptual art, minimal art, and monochrome painting. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and The Club, a meeting place for the New York School’s abstract expressionist artists during the 1940s to the 1950s. Although Reinhardt was associated with Abstract Expressionists, his works had origins in geometric abstraction. In his exploration of geometric abstraction, he sought to purify his paintings of everything he saw as extraneous to art. He believed that the ultimate in abstract paintings were concerned with art alone and bore no reference to anything outside the paintings themselves. Thus, he sought to remove all references from the external world from his pictures- even the hints of soul and angst typically found in Abstract Expressionists pictures. He maintained an interest in various types of mysticism, as shown in his barely delineated forms in his Black Paintings that viewers struggled to understand.

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Survey 9: A Confusing Dream

Colour Theory and Cool Type (1925-1930)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about Art Deco, the Bauhaus school, and the leap forward into modern typography. The Dasstaatliche Bauhaus opened in 1919 in Weimar, Germany. Their goal was to create useful objects and designs. Walter Gropius was named the Bauhaus’ first director in 1919 and he had a new way of teaching design where students would be able to learn, but also able to make prototypes and sell them. He hired numerous famous and respectable artists to teach at his school. These include Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Gerhard Marcks, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, and Herbert Bayer. However, due to the eccentricity of the school, the government and public believed that the Bauhaus provided no value and wanted to cut their funding. In response to this negativity, Gropius moved the Bauhaus to Dessau instead, allowing the school to gain more freedom.

Jan Tschichold never went to Bauhaus but he was inspired by their exhibition. He was very interested in typography and wrote an essay that set out rules about using type and layout effectively. He invented in Sabon type in the 1960’s and Paul Renner created his Steile Futura type in 1927. Kurt Schwitters was the leader of the Ring of New Advertising Designers, Piet Zwart thought himself as a typotekt (typographer and architect), and Paul Schuitema was another modern typographer.

Other notable events that occurred were the art movement Art Deco, the creation of the Chrysler and Empire State building, and Charles “Lindy” Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic by plane.

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