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Study – Graphics



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In this study,
I am to show and to find out that less can be more with the discovery of
minimalism and research into where minimalism came from by looking into the De
Stijl movement with artist Piet Mondrian who created beautiful abstract pieces
which moved away from his previous more detailed artworks. Then I will be
looking at the movement of minimalism itself in the 1950’s America as well as
Brutalism (minimalist architecture) in the 1950/60’s seeing the influence that
the De Stijl had on these movements, mainly minimalism. Next, I will look into
the impact of minimalism on our lives not just in graphic design or art. This
will be informed by me watching a documentary about “The Minimalists”
who gave up their 6 figure wage to express that having less can take away
stress leading to an overall happier life. Finally, I will look at a recent
designer who has taken the idea of minimalism into their own hands to create
simplistic poster-like designs, this will be the work of Outmane Amahou who
took famous artworks throughout the movements and stripping them back of small
details creating recognizable but minimalistic silhouettes.


The Minimalism
movement was an “extreme form” (1) of abstract art developed in the
USA in the 1950s. Typically the artworks were composed of simple geometric
shapes based on squares and rectangles. The Minimalism art movement can be seen
as an extension of the idea of abstract art and very similar to cubism. Being
influenced by geometric shapes based on squares and rectangles as well as lines
and pops of bright, primary colors from the De Stijl movement back in 1917 from
the Neverlands, minimalism has developed widely into today’s designers.


usually think of art as representing an aspect of the real world (a landscape,
a person, or even a tin of soup!); or reflecting an experience such as an
emotion or feeling. With minimalism, no attempt is made to represent an outside
reality; the artist wants the viewer to respond only to what is in front of
them. The medium, (or material) from which it is made and the form of the work
is the reality. Minimalist painter Frank Stella famously said about his
paintings ‘What you see is what you see'” (1)


This statement
tells me that minimalism is exactly what it says it is; the minimal needed to
create an impression.


Minimalism came
about in the late 1950s where artists (alike Frank Stella) began to move away
from the previous movement of ‘gestural art’ (1). The Movement challenged the
existing structures but kept grids and some structure. Although extreme and
away from tradition, many of the concerns of the immediately preceding abstract
expressionist movement, earlier abstract movements were an important influence
on the ideas and techniques of minimalism.


This all
combines together to allow me to explore the influences of minimalism and the
influences of what minimalism can bring into our lives and today’s designs.



The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Milburn and
Ryan Nicodemus   Robin Hood Gardens 13,
Poplar, London, Alison and Peter Smithson 1969-1972    Piet Mondrian – Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937–42



Outmane Amahou – Pop Art – 2012                                   Frank Stella, ‘Hyena Stomp’ 1962



De Stijl – Piet Mondrian


Who influenced today’s designers to use
minimalism, where has this come from?


De Stijl was an artistic movement in the
Netherlands that started in 1917 and lasted till roughly the early 1930s.
“De Stijl” is Dutch for “The Style”. The movement included
painters, sculptors, architects, and designers. DE Stijl was a movement which
brought in simplicity and abstraction by deducing designs to its essential form
and color. The designs were to consist of only: Horizontal and vertical lines,
Rectangular forms, Primary values white, black, and grey, Primary colors blue,
red, and yellow. Not only this but the different parts of the designs don’t
overlap, everything has its own independence (apart from the interception of
the lines as they stretch across the canvas. (1)


“It doesn’t take a stretch of the
imagination to figure out how De Stijl influenced minimalist design.” (1)


“De Stijl” means “The
Style” and the movement was born in the early 20th century (1917) in the
Netherlands. This was by a collection of artists who made the idea surround
purity and the obscurity of figuration. Alike cubism, geometric shapes, and
lines are used. (4)


Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch
artist. He was first to explore the idea of abstract art. Beginning to work in
a brighter colors and sometimes developed a pointillist style (detailed and
precise style of art with small dots and patterns to create an image) in 1908.
He was hugely influenced by Cubism with the abstract styles he developed. This
style then moved into a more simplistic abstract style (he called
Neo-Plasticism). In this style, only the three primary colors (red, blue and
yellow) can be used amongst a black grid containing vertical and horizontal
lines on a white ground. This style is hugely associated with the de Stijl
movement 1917-25. (6)


Piet Mondrian –
Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937–42


This piece, composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937–42,
is a clear example of a piece of Piet Mondrian’s work within the De Stijl
movement This piece sticks to the rules in which are laid out for this specific
movement. The way in which Mondrian has used only 4 instances of color creates
some negative spacing which draws the viewer to explore the outer parts of the
painting, creating an intriguing composition. The minimalistic style makes me
feel relaxed, there are not any tiny details in which I have focus in on, its
blocks of color which could have any meaning you would like it to. I perceive
the piece as a focus on the red block color as it is surrounded totally by
black lines. I feel the piece is quite romantic in this sense with protection
surrounding an intimate color making the center of focus on this block. You
could also take this thought further, it could be representing the elements
which you need in life; happiness (yellow), relationships (red) and getting by
(blue). Overall, the artwork is interesting and allows everyone to have their
own free perceptions of life.




Minimalism – Frank



Frank Stella was an
American abstract painter. Whilst attending Phillips Academy (Andover), he
started painting abstract pictures. Moved to New York in 1958. (1)







Brutalism – Alison and Peter Smithson



Brutalism is an
architectural style and a movement of design which ranged through the 1950s and
1960s. This was a style which was influenced by minimalism which created a new
form of construction and architecture which was built of simple, block forms of
raw concrete.


This movement
was particularly associated with the architects Peter and Alison Smithson. The
architect couple Alison (22 June 1928 – 16 August 1993) and Peter Smithson (18
September 1923 – 3 March 2003) formed a partnership which led through to
British Brutalism towards the twentieth century. The pair “stripped down
modernism”, and challenge modernist approaches and designs. Instead of
using just modernistic approaches, the couple helped evolve the style into what
became Brutalism, becoming people who advocate the “streets in the
sky” approach to housing. (2)


Robin Hood
Gardens 13, Poplar, London, Alison and Peter Smithson 1969-1972        Smithdon High School, Norfolk, England, Peter and Alison Smithson,


Both of these
buildings have a certain look to them, they’re not jazzed up in any way just
pure concrete and windows. This pure simplicity is something which was explored
by many architects in the brutalist movement where they took a step back from
modernism and made architecture simplistic, only including the essential
elements in which buildings need. These types of buildings today are usually
used as flats or in the case of the Smithdon High School, they’re used as
public sector buildings.


When walking
around I don’t see these buildings as the prettiest buildings, in fact, they’re
quite ugly after a few years of wear and tear, but we see the practicality of
the amounts of people these large, tall structures can accommodate; therefore,
for an ever-growing population, these buildings work in providing for peoples
needs to have a roof over their head.


Most brutalist
architecture emerged during the 60’s carried on into the 70’s. The main idea
which surrounded Brutalism was partially based on the idea of equality within
society as well as hope for people who weren’t so well off. Therefore,
Brutalism had an important role in society especially within the communist
countries (areas which aren’t so well off). (4)


“The idea
of unity and shared space was somehow best transformed into shape through the
means of brutalist suburban blocks, with lots of open space and moderately tall
buildings and houses that have a capacity to accommodate many people. It was
also often associated with futurism, a bright outlook on the future, which is
how it was presented at first – close to how people used to imagine
utopia.” (4) This statement tells me that Brutalism was a movement which
changed society as a whole giving everyone as an equal chance to each other as
well as bring communities together with shared space.


I feel that
minimalism had a massive influence towards brutalism and this formed more than
simplistic (as many would say, ugly) buildings, it created a society where we
can be happier for knowing there’s accommodation out there for that won’t cost
too much if life gets in the way.



The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan


Minimalism – A Documentary about Important


This is a documentary which looks into what
makes people happy in terms of possessions. After watching it once, I was
intrigued enough to feel that this was relevant to looking into “less is
more”. The documentary opened my eyes to new ideas which then formed an
interest in the overall subject of minimalism.

Inspiration came from the main two men,
Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn, who gave up their own 6 figure
salaries to spread the word of how having a minimalistic life can make you
happier. Ryan stated, “I had everything I ever wanted… everyone around
me said I was successful, but in fact, I was miserable”. Many people
believe you can “buy your way to happiness” but the situation is that
having “stuff” was not fore-filling the “void” of unhappiness
within our lives. The more “stuff” that we have, the more
dissatisfied we become; as humans, we are “wired to become
dissatisfied” (3).


Ryan to Joshua “how the hell are you
so happy?”

Joshua “Minimalism”


Joshua let go of a lot of his processions that
didn’t add value to his life, consequently, his life became more stress-free,
making Joshua happier.


The documentary introduced the idea of
minimalistic miniature homes which every space is valuable and used.
Environmentally, the idea is genius as supposedly we don’t use up to 40% of our
homes. This is the idea to do more with less.


Jimmy Carter (former US president) made a
short statement during the documentary about human identity stating that
“not one does what one owns”. This tells me that you don’t use
everything that you own, suggesting minimalism is the way forward. The
president described humans as being “longing for meaning” in terms of
the need for material goods, which” cannot fill emptiness”. All of
this ended with the former having those stresses like dissatisfying
“stuff” taken away makes you happier, giving you a stress-free life.

The American Dream – should be equality,
fairness, everyone should have a chance, greed has taken over the country and
the world and therefore doesn’t allow a chance for everyone to be happy,
minimalism can help this problem.

The closing statement was “Love people
and use things because the opposite never works”. This almost describes
the impact of minimalism for if you take on a minimalistic life then you should
be happy, genuine, add value to your life, be stress-free as your being
intentionally simple, have a need rather than a want and stop this madness in
which we have dug ourselves into as a society.




Minimalism – Outmane Amahou


Outmane Amahou was a French-based Graphic Designer (1)
who took the artworks of the various movements and took away all the detail to
create minimal posters.


Campbell’s Soup Cans (sometimes referred to as 32
Campbell’s Soup Cans) is a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy Warhol. He
produced each one on a separate individual basis and therefore was able to make
each one unique. Each canvas contains a different soup which Campbell’s produce
this ranges from tomato to chicken noodle flavor. Each one was so individually
done, Warhol needed some sort of continuity and therefore Warhol used a hand
stamp to keep the “fleur-de-lis” pattern that lines the bottom of
each can. Placement varied from canvas to canvas but like the fact, the red and
white very slightly too, and one can is missing the gold band, you can say the
paintings with-hold human touch even though some critics disagree. This all
launched Warhol’s career to be a success. – (4) Moving forward Warhol went on
to produce pop art of famous figures like Marilyn Monroe creating various
prints including “Liquorice Marilyn” and “Lavender Marilyn”
as well as “Shot Blue Marilyn”. 
– (5)


The Pop Art poster is where Outmane Amahou has taken
Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can and making it simplistic and minimalistic,
taking only the one element in which tells the story fully within the movement
and putting this on a plain background; He used a plain background which is
most commonly a primary color. His 2012 Minimalist Art Movement Posters is his
variation to different artistic movements which he changes just using single
shapes and blocks of colors which creates a representative of each movement
individually. He says “whenever he thinks of any art movement, there is
always one specific visual for each one”. An example of this is when he
thought about Pop Art, the first thing that appeared to his thinking was
Warhol’s soup cans. I love the way that Amahou takes almost a silhouette and
still makes the poster recognizable to the original piece by color choices
which reflect the movement as well as choosing famous pieces and using just
enough detail to be recognizable. The piece has no added stress within the
details which critics were quick to judge with Warhol’s original pieces.


I would say that Amahou has been heavily influenced by
the Minimalist movement but more influenced by the De Stijl movement in terms
of the choices of colours within his backgrounds being primary colours and the
fact that he’s taking away stress and time by not creating something detailed
and making something recognisable giving us as viewers a challenge to determine
what th

is. Overall, I like the work that he does and feel
that it “does what it says on the tin”!













































Andy Warhol – Campbell’s Soup Cans – 1962                                                                             Outmane
Amahou – Pop Art – 2012                 



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