Modernism and Postmodernism are words that we hear the most of the times in graphic design, it’s the division between to very distinct styles that belong in the same profession, but is impossible to be at the same level of understanding. In order to speak about modernism I have to include post modernism. I will then compare the two styles and thy relation in graphic design.
Modernism in design and architecture emerged in the aftermath of the First World War and the Russian Revolution – a period when the artistic avant-garde dreamed of a new world free of conflict, greed and social inequality. It was not a style but a loose collection of ideas. Many different styles can be characterised as Modernist, but they shared certain underlying principles: a rejection of history and applied ornament; a preference for abstraction; and a belief that design and technology could transform society. Modernism survived, and it remains a powerful force in the designed world of today.[vam]
Modernism until today is viewed as the style that improves communication with , clear, neutral type and layout. Its solutions were highly rational and practical. A new environment – clean, healthy, light and full of fresh air – would transform daily life. There was no need for revolution, only for social change.[vma]
Modernism in graphic design started with the New typography in the book concise History the writer says that the foundations of modern art were laid on the avant-garde, which at the same way introduced new ways of looking at words and using the alphabet to make images, he continues to say that in posters and on title of the text books words were symmetrical arranged in hierarchy of importance through different sizes of type.[1994, p.37]
Is impossible to speak about modernism and not mention the influence on Swiss modernism in the book the writer says that Modernism is Switzerland became a crusade in the years following the II World War. Its assumption became a matter of faith. He says that Basle student’s reprinted key works of the 1920s of the New Typography such has the Bauhaus letter head. Their teacher, Emil Ruder, was puzzled that this work was considered obsolete, But Tschichold, champion in 1925 of the New Typography, claimed that it had introduced two mis-conceptions. The first was the rejection of the centred layout , the second, the exclusive use of san-serif type which, he now considered, that was more suitable for children’s then adults to read.[1994,p.131]
The writer explains Tschichold, was interested in the geometry and proportions of book pages, he says that Gerstner(a Swiss post-constructivist painter in the School of `Concrete ´artist) and his colleagues developed the controlling `grid´ and it was used has a proportional regulator.[1994, p.130]
The grid until today has been one the many rules that modernists can’t live without its everywhere they need to create geometrical pages, minimalist backgrounds all in order for clear legibility ,order and precision.
Moving forward many have followed modernists views and in 1957 a type face has appeared Helvetica a san-serif type that would come to reinforce all the views that early modernist had the neutral type.[1994, p.134]
When Postmodernism arrived it was a shock for modernist s that has for so long tried to clear the chaos in graphic design.
image retrieved from.www.fontshop.be
This new generation of designers was determined to insist that rules don’t have to be followed in the book Making and Breaking the Grid its says what the grid may represent to Modernist and Postmodernist: “For some Graphic designers it has become an unquestioned part of a working process that yields precision, order and clarity. For others it is a symbolic Old guard aesthetic oppression, a stifling cage that hinders the search for expression,”[2002, pag.9]
I like the comparison the writer made, and I think that is an undeniable truth, the freedom of post modernists can’t be focus in the grid.
Postmodernist started to create a deconstruction of what Modernist graphic designers have thought design should be.
In the book making or breaking the grid the writer explains that as modernism emerged in the aftermath of the First World War and the Russian Revolution so did Postmodernism he says: A new visual reality began as reaction to the World War I. Co-opting the strange, new language of the visual abstraction, the Dadaists applied it to verbal languages to express their horror over the war. He says that the design industry tended to focus on the more or less steadily increasing influence of rationalism when it traced its development or promoted itself, and with good reason: emphasizing the pragmatic, rational aspects of design helps clients understand and trust the design industry as a resource. But every field of artistic endeavor comprises different schools of thought, some of them contradictory, and graphic design was no exception.[2002, p.112,113]
image retrieved from:highvoltageart Neville Brody
Postmodernism hasn’t only started after Modernism as the writer said, many other Schools had different ideas of how to express themselves after the World War II.
The writer says that in that by the mid 1960s the International style was becoming a norm as a design methodology in Europe in and the United States he says that students were disseminating its reductive, minimal aesthetic. He says as the younger designer community started to recover from the Second World War a search for expression based on personal experience and narrative was catalysed by the visceral thump of Rock n´ Roll, the sexual revolution and the rise of popular youth culture. Pyschedelia, television, and a rediscovery of Art Nouveau gave rise to design idioms and counter movements that don’t fit neatly into the bigger trends.[2002, p.114]
Weingart uncovered a new visual potential for a language by deconstructing it, and the significance of his works was profound he has seen the grid has one of many possibilities that could organise visual material. He was a modernist but Weingart saw the inumerous possibilities in graphic design he has the knowledge of International Style but has decided to use both
Modernism and Postmodernism together.[2002, p.116]
In the book the writer says that During the period between 1971 and 1984 , the word deconstruction was coined has a description of what these experiments were trying to accomplish: to break apart the preconceived structures as a starting point to find new ways of marking verbal and visual connections between images and languages.[2002,p.117]
The writer continues to say that 1984 Apples Computers introduction created a revolution in design practice in a similar scale of the Industrial Revolution in 1780s.Designers were quick to assimilate the new technology for the rapid and seam less manipulation of image and type that the program facilitated.[2002, p.118]