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Imagining Bauhaus Poetry


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Through the looking glass of bauhaus principles, observing the elements of “poetry” and how that guides new possibilities in the making of a poem.

What inspires me to explore this idea is the incredible visuals of Bauhaus Theatre.

 

  

 

More spesifically HOW the concrete, minimalistic and practical demeanours of Bauhaus (which in my mind have such an adult attitude!) created such extravagant, playful, toy-ish costumes that look like perhaps a child puked them out of their wild imagination! 

While “the bauhaus element” in these costumes is undeniably present to me, there I observe something more, almost an added element… Having read that the thinking behind the designing of these costumes is in fact by observing the performers body with a calculating attention and following its relations to the space(the stage) through its motion*, I am tempted to think this “other element” I was looking for might just be the ballet itself.

Assumption…..         The designs of these costumes are just materializations of the visuals the dance draws in the viewers mind-eye. The dance is numerous invisible lines and shapes drawn in time with the tool of the body…       Perhaps!

HypothesisSS:————————————————

Bauhaus building within an existing art form alters its outcome.

So It makes me Wonder. How would it apply to poetry? With letters and words as form and rhythm and sound as dance, the paper as the stage. I found myself wondering this more so than other mediums mainly because I haven’t seen it attempted.

Starting… Concrete, aNew.

A concrete definition: Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response.

Here is a new world, with its new forms and movements, sensations and images, to build a new Bauhaus in and of it. I will attempt to look at some elements of poetry and seek new possibilities in its design, looking at it through the 5 characteristics of the Bauhaus design.

1=Form Follows Function

It means that in design, a form should always be applied because of its function instead of its aesthetic appeal. “Utility came first and excessive ornamentations were avoided.” The thing is that this principle seems to shift slightly when applied to an already existing art form like dance, or poetry, as the means of actions in these are the adornments themselves. So, thinking of function for aesthetic, rhythm, imagination and emotion (and so on…) is altogether a different approach. Function in this case, I imagine, would be to ease and support the already existing or suggested communication of forms and elements -in the case of poetry, for example,——: All aspects must serve to communicate/highlight the emotion/mental picture/phoneasthetic situation. 

Letters (uppercase, capital;size;font;color;bold-italic…so on.), Words, Gaps, Marks, etc. + the plane the poem will be viewed on should be used for this, courageously.

2=True Materials

According to the teachers at Bauhaus, materials should reflect the true nature of objects and buildings.

This to me, follows up to the previous case. What are the true materials of text, literature and what are their functions? These are not meant to be hidden, but even highlighted to show their functions thus exaggerating and complementing the existing literary pleasure.

In bauhaus theatre we see the stage too, is designed in such a way that it holds hands with the costumes designed to exist with it, so the form and its space exist as one self-complimentary relation. I believe this relation is somewhat weak in the current poetry. There is perhaps much to do to enrich our poems by putting more thought on the plane (usually the regular white paper) we present it on. I would advise seeking new possibilities on this, trying to create a more powerful relation between the elements of the poem and the presentation of it.

3=Minimalistic Style

Bauhaus artists favoured linear and geometrical forms, while floral or curvilinear shapes were avoided. Only line, shape and colors mattered. Anything else was unnecessary and could therefore be reduced. Therefore we should give the reader the necessary amount of words (and preferably words that are not too difficult or esoteric) and not more, as it risks tiring the emotional and phonetical landscape. This approach also gives the poem a fresh, modern look, which is desired. It becomes open and approachable artistic experience, instead of possibly exclusionary one.

4=Gesamtkunstwerk*

Translated from German as “total work of art”,”ideal work of art”,”universal artwork”*, “synthesis of the arts”, “comprehensive artwork”, “all-embracing art form” or “total artwork”) is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. 

The poem can draw a picture as a visual form, can be sang as a song or acted as a play and so on… all this is desired and should be attempted.

*The concept of language makes this difficult as many languages used for poetry cannot be called Universal, but I believe it is still quite possible to challenge this with the help of growing alternative languages, which I will go more in depth in the following.

5=Uniting art and technology

In 1923, Bauhaus organised an exhibition that shifted the Bauhaus ideology. This exhibition was called ‘Art & Technology: A New Unity’. From then on, there was a new emphasises on technology. The artists embraced the new possibilities of modern technologies, for example at the time, mass-producibility was keep in mind whilst designing a product. New technologies today, gave us new languages to play and build with for poetry that I do not see being benefited from enough. A prime example of this are the Emojisa small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion. It is, by definition, quite similar to the words that we use but with an advantage of their own, being capable of much more of a universal communication than any word of any language. They are being used so often in our daily texting and us new age kids have learned to communicate so much with them so easily, and with the help of an ever growing selection of emojis available to anyone with a smartphone, I am surprised why they are not being used more creatively. I believe through emojis a new, different and straightforward literary landscape is possible and I would like to attempt it.

My (currently very incomplete) draft/attempt at Bauhaus Poetry::::::::::

Side-walk in the cold regular night,

I am sedated by 

 the surrounding objects :

Moving amongst growth and shrinkage

To the pointed futurity which sits folded 

in Z00Ming horizon———. 

Moments pass themselves to remain 

over my shoulder, behind my last step 

to Reside as the Past. Behind the direction    of 

my opposing attention  

As we speak I am Approaching 

to : 

the ————. needle tip… 

Shapes emerge and grant me locality

The wind blows Regular 

and I start takinK 

The X Large stepsS 

of a clown. crawl

into an ever-descending point 

   the buzz of everything glimmers an easy happening  

   thingness of the smallest spot

                               WiNKs at me

Everywhere is filled with stars!

Except the calming darkness of the surrounding

Tree trunks 

descending...
     

 

 

The diversity of a stable object


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

     As a student of arts and design and, at the moment, about to reach the end of the first year – I found myself trying to understand my progress and development process as a student- considering all the different situations and stages I have been through this last year in relation to the school.

     Characterised by strong rhythm and diversity, the basic year forced me to be extremely versatile.

     Creativity and quick response led me to places where I had never been before and although I was very confused in the beginning, I can now understand the interconnection of all the proposals from the school and how my reaction to them should be constantly evaluated in order to keep developing as a student.

As so, confrontation becomes incredibly important to get to know myself and, under pressure, the behavior of my body had many times to overcome the speed of thought, which means, that it was necessary to act without thinking innumerable times – which resulted in a completely different way of percepting my own work. This practice, of course, has greatly influenced my method of creation and helps when it comes to try to have an overall view on the last period of my life- which I will be doing meanwhile writing this essay.

    From this very small and summarised description of the last months as a student of an art academy  I ask you to take some words that will help you to follow my thoughts throughout the essay:

  • Rhythm;
  • Diversity;
  • Versatile;
  • Creativity;
  • Interconnection;
  • Confrontation;
  • Development;
  • Behaviour of the body;
  • Method.

These words, for me, interrelate the three points I want to focus and connect: Art academies; my as a student and school furniture design. But lets start from the very beginning.

     Art as an educational practice emerged in the 16th century in Italy, and has since evolved in many directions. Artistic teaching has been constantly changing and responsible for the emergence and development of multiple movements and new artistic practices that grow from the urge of the artists and and the society. As so, methods used in art schools have been transformed side by side with the whole society and its needs. 

     Throughout all these years many academies have been important for the development of various names that have become part of world history. Thus, certainly, the school where each one of them studied, had a great impact in their own artistic practice. Aiming for the same to happen to me, when I decided to study arts, I promised myself that I would try to find a place that would truly satisfy my needs and where the thought that moves the school would meet my own way of thinking.

     The academies have become places where learning is fundamental but, over time, the way the disciplines are thought to the students is in constant transformation- what results in a huge variation of methods used in artistic teaching.

Therefore, my task of finding the place where I wanted to develop my practice as a potential artist had to be even more cautious and I had to get to know as much as I could about the schools to which I could apply without studying there.

     After much research, I ended up leaving my home country, Portugal, in search of something that seemed appropriate to me and I ended up enrolling in the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in search of a more adapted teaching to my ideas and to my way of producing.

Surrounded by different ways of thinking and materialising ideas, I was immediately enthusiastic about the reality that surrounded me. The contemporaneity and versatility of the teaching of each one of the teachers has proven the ideas that I brought with me from Portugal. It is very important to have the school as a safe space where all ideas are respected; Where the concept is valued and experimentation has no limits. The unlimited access to the workshops gives creativity to the students and the consideration of the creation process by the teachers and colleagues makes me believe in several methodologies that open up a huge range of possibilities to each project that I develop.

     While considering all this I realised how similar the school I was studying was to one of the most important schools in the art and design history which I always had as a great exemple of education techniques: the Bauhaus.So there has grown an even greater interest for this fascinating school. And, now, living even closer to where everything happened geographically, I have managed to get more and more acquainted with its history.

After some research, I have come to understand that the way the Bauhaus grew up and made its students grow is more than a teaching method. It is perhaps a method of production and creation that is directly related to one’s own method of living.

     Honestly, I find it striking how schools like the one I attend and the Bauhaus consider the curriculum of the degrees, and as time goes on we have more and more evidences of the positive influence of this way of teaching has- somewhat minimal, where “less” is believed to enable a much interesting creation.

I would like you to take into account the last sentence- “Less is believed to enable a very interesting creation”

     While researching about the schools of art education and my perception of them. I began to notice a very important element: school furniture. That both the Bauhaus and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie plays a very important role – maybe because of its relationship with design practices.

     Considering the academies as a space where an incredible relationship develops daily: between the building and its interior; the objects; and  the people that share this space of discovery and experimentation.

The interaction turns out to be very relevant in the day-to-day of those who frequent this place. The distribution / organisation of space among all those who occupy it is extremely relevant and certainly influences all activities that take place in the school environment, from pedagogical to playful.

     Historically, there are several objects that are part of the artistic school environment and that, thanks to its constant presence, a certain language between human being and object is developed. As I wandered through the corridors of my school, I realised that each student has its own body language, just like every person and that we all physically get involved with what surrounds us.

Cafeteria after lunch, Bauhaus, Dessau 1930-2, printed later Iwao Yamawaki 1898-1987 Purchased with funds provided by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2010 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P79894

 

 

     The same happens in relation to pieces of furniture. Without realising it, the chairs where we sit become part of our position while we are seated, or an easel can become part of our body while we paint – its triangular shape where the frame is supported, often serves as support for the painter. I myself have noticed that many times I paint I find moving in different angles thanks to the support given by the easel. And, together (me and the easel), support the fluid movements of my arm that moves the brush.

     Due to the introduction of this new theme – school furniture design. It is impossible not to go back to the bauhaus, a school where numerous pieces of furniture were developed and included in the school itself. When I went to the exhibition “netherlands bauhaus – pioneers of a new world” at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, I found several photographs with many of the most famous pieces by Bauhaus students, such as Marcel Breuer’s stool but, and I realised how furniture captures my attention by the way it is designed and it interacts with the space. But, throughout the exhibition, there was one piece that captured my attention, the Ulm stool by Max Bill.

“Function means the relation of one thing to another. (…) When we speak about fulfilling a function, we are talking about producing something to fulfil a need. “;

“By function I therefore understand a relation, for example the relation between material and form.” – Said Max Biil.

     Having the designer’s words as a starting point I would like to take advantage of the functionality of his piece – which fascinates me – and directly compare it to my relationship with the school that I attend because, incredibly, while appreciating the stool in the museum Boijmans Van Beuningen I felt that, somehow, its structure was very close to mine, as a student of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

     Physical characteristics of the piece:

– The stool is made up of 4 pieces that when fitted create a volume of varied functionality. The joint of the different parts is extremely well design;

– The simplicity of the geometry allows the interconnection of all parts and a joint strong enough to handle a weight;

– The stool has 3 almost identical parts that form the seat and a tube that allows support and transport.

 

 

     In a metaphorical way, I associate this description with my goals as a student. Every day I try to find solutions for my assignments through maximum simplicity; I try to be as organised as possible so I do not get lost in my own thoughts and, to ensure that each of these thoughts results in something material. In order to develop my production process. In each of the projects that I do in school I seek the interconnection with the others projects- always trying to notice the small things where they might be similar and, therefore, I have discovered many personal characteristics – mainly in relation to the way I work and how I shape my thinking. By considering and evaluating my own works I manage to find myself a little bit more every day.

 

     Functionality of the piece:

  • One of the strongest features of the Ulm stool is its versatility in functionality.

The joining of four simple pieces results in a simple object that can be used as a bench, as a desk and as a shelf and can still be transported very easily.

 

 

     In relation to my own experience this versatility can be found in a lot of aspects. The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is a place where its diversity promotes an open space where a lot is possible. Even if the departments work in separate ways there are links in between that make the school work as one and everyone is free to participate and to take the best out of everything that the school offers, from people to workshops.

From such freedom I experienced a lot of different results from each student, including myself.  It is this versatility that I try to find in my posture as a student because I believe that it will certainly result in a practicality and ability to solve any problem that I will increase my creativity and for sure be one of the most important learnings I will take with me from my years as an art student.

 

     At this point, where I can relate the characteristics of a design piece with my own performance as a student. I consider my research finished.

After all and by becoming better acquainted with the reality of art academies and their direct relationship with what is produced in them. I believe that writing this essay resulted in a very personal development – It led me to conclusions about how I interact with the space around me and how this influences my results and it also made me pay more attention to the results themselves so that, later, perhaps, I might be able to assume that I know myself.

 

Ana Resende, April 2019

The Neo Neo Romantics


Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

PIET ZWART DOLLS

 

The bauhaus might be quite interesting and new for some, but looking at the collection it only makes me realise how many works of theirs I see in daily life, without being aware of their background.

 

In the midst of it all there was one piece by Piet Zwart that caught my attention, the postal office dolls [See Dolls 1]. The reason why his work interested me the most was not because of its material or colours but its size. Other works in the bauhaus were on such a big scale, or photos of bigger works, that these small dolls made them even more noticeable for me.

 

[Dolls 1]

 

Afterwards I did some research at home on Piet Zwart and his other works. What I found out during my research was that, he wanted to design his own identity, he wanted to see what Piet Zwart looked like. Writing doctrines, manifestos, mantras and disciplines, of various forms of the avant-garde, and knowing them well, was his first step in breaking the conventions. Three of his biggest influences were Russian constructivism, Dada and the De Stijl movement.

 

He studied a diverse range of art related subjects including painting and architecture, and he was introduced to the principles of the English Arts and Crafts movement. From 1908 he started teaching at an industrial and domestic school for girls. In 1913 he returned to study, attending the University of technology in Delft for a year. From 1919 while continuing to work as an independent designer, he began teaching at the Rotterdam Academy of Visual Arts, now known as the Willem de Kooning Academy. He was dismissed in 1933 because of what were considered his radical ideas on education. His ideas were too similar to those of the Bauhaus art school in Germany, where he gave some guest lectures as well in 1929.

 

In 1930 he was asked to design The Book of PTT. [The book of PTT 2] The book was made to teach school children how to use the Dutch postal service. It was full of bright colors and it was meant to be exciting. He created two main characters for the book: ‘The Post’ and ‘J Self’ [See Dolls 1] They were paper doll cut-outs that he photographed and then touched up with chalk, ink, and color pencil. Additionally, he used many different fonts of varying sizes and thicknesses. He was assisted in illustrating the book by Dick Elffers. The book was finally published in 1938.

 

[The book of PTT]

 

I studied him up to this point because it seemed to me like his later works would be irrelevant to how I relate to the dolls. So after the research of his earlier years and how he worked on The Book of PTT, I finally found a connection. As a child I used to make a lot of dolls out of a wide variety of materials for example; clay, paper, trash, etc. I made their clothes and homes, I created a separate world for them. And I would link those to a story in my head or on paper. The reason I felt connected with his dolls was because it gave me a nostalgic feeling of how I used to play and the way I produced the dolls and linked them to my stories felt similar to Piet Zwart’s dolls and The Book of PTT.

 

Even though I might find them very similar, at the same time, to me they are totally different. For example the way he executes his stories in his book he uses a very precise and fixed style that doesn’t change throughout the book whereas in my case I was still a child, I did not have a fixed style; my drawings were childishly disorganized.

 

Another difference is his typography, not only the way he writes but the way he uses words and letters. It seems like he’s playing with them, something I could’ve only dreamed of as a child. I wasn’t really the smooth talker, I often stuttered and could never get my words across.

 

As for his writing of course it can’t be compared to that of a child’s handwriting even if it is made for children. Even now writing is not really one of my strong suits, a reason why I came to the Rietveld, to improve my writing skills in order to get my stories across. That’s why my stories were told mostly by images instead of text.

 

I hope to have to opportunity of honing my writing skills at the Rietveld Academy so that I can explore and find my own new way of writing. That would clarify the meaning of the stories I have yet to tell.

 

 

 

Look How Far We’ve Come


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The similarities between the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Bauhaus school are immediately apparent. In theory and course structure, one could declare them almost the same, even looking from far away at the way classes are taught, there is a striking resemblance, but looking in a little deeper, a lot of the practice has changed. A great amount of Freedom has ensued in the last 100 years and that is highly visible in the hallways, classrooms, staircases and pretty much every corner of our academy. 

Looking strictly at the academy’s building, the Bauhaus influence, Gropius’ glass box designs’ influence on the Rietveld architecture is almost palpable. It is what Rietveld students have made of this glass box that demonstrates the progress. The beacon of modernist Bauhaus architecture is constantly littered and bombarded with student’s and teachers individual works and projects in the works; with posters promoting performances with roots in extremely diverse concepts, and the limitations of rationality imposed by the Bauhaus are thrown out the window.

Having spoken of posters, it would be ill advised not to look at the graphic design departments of the Bauhaus then and the Rietveld now.Having been put on paper by different designers, the ones coming from Bauhaus look like they might as well have been designed by the same person, and so do the ones coming from the second floor at the Rietveld today. Here is the difference: while the Bauhaus posters have a very neat, almost strict design based on straight lines and proportions, the results coming out of our graphic design department present relaxation and fluidity. The Bauhaus posters all promoted the same message through the same rhetoric: boring, modernist rationality. The Rietveld posters on the other hand merely promote each individual’s message through the same language.

But how have we arrived at this level of enabling relaxation?

It could be the teachers. They kept the structure of the Bauhaus, even in teaching drawing, but the drawing subjects are now far more varied and exciting. In 1929 Oskar Schlemmer taught his students how to draw human proportions using spheres, tubes, cubes and other geometrical shapes. He did this in trying to question the nature of the human being, a lesson I cannot see disbarred from the socialist rhetoric of creating a new, logical type of human being, that the bauhaus was so keen on.

               

In 2019 Hewald Jongenelis taught his students, me included, how to draw fictional character Bambi through the same technique. He motivated this by saying: “If you can draw Bambi like this, you can literally draw anything”, again adhering to teaching certain freedoms so necessary in the work of artists and designers these days.

It could be a collaboration between teachers and students. Looking through a Bauhaus exhibition in Rotterdam, a certain picture that had been captured in a regular Bauhaus vorlehre (the Bauhaus equivalent of basic year) classroom decades ago caught my eye more than any designs exposed. A shared class structure in the Bauhaus school and Rietveld Academie is undoubtedly there. But something is off.

             Where as in the Bauhaus school picture the entire class was immediately engaged in discussing one student’s work which was sitting in a pile of others like it, in a Rietveld basic year classroom some of the students’ attention is drifting away when things in class are becoming to repetitive, either towards their phone, towards the hallway or to anything slightly more stimulating than the class itself. Although this may seem like a bad habit, taking the bad with the good on might realise that this kind of habit allows for a constant flow of information with the outside of the classroom, broadening the field of subjects that students can study in their work or that they can ultimately bring into the classroom for their colleagues and teachers alike to digest.

It could be only the students themselves. Its enough to look at their fashion, and how carelessly  they wear it within the school to understand the freedom that Rietveld students are experiencing today as opposed to 100 years ago in the Bauhaus. Even though much of the fashion on the Rietveld staircase is alike between itself, which was also very much the case in the Bauhaus, put it on the streets and it will be the only one standing out in Amsterdam a city which has come to look almost as if its streets are painted through one stencil.

A spectacular Manifesto


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The ultimate goal of all art is the spectacle! The ancient drama was once the main purpose of the visual arts, and it was institutionalized as an indispensable part of life. Today, it exists in complacent isolation, from which it can only be salvaged by the purposeful and cooperative endeavours of all artists. Architects, painters and sculptors, designers, writers and potters must learn a new way of seeing and understanding the composite character of the theater, both as a totality and in terms of its parts. Their work will then re-imbue itself with the spirit of the spectacle, which it lost being caged in a white cube.

The art schools of old were incapable of producing this unity—and how could they, for art may not be taught. They must return to the performative, to the spectacle, the theater. They must get back up on the stage. This world of mere conceptual products must at long last become a world of performers. When a young person who senses within them-self a love for creative endeavour begins their career, the context of the theater will give them unrestrained freedom to achieve excellence in their practice of art, as well on stage as behind the scenes.

Architects, sculptors, painters, photographers, weavers and dressmakers—we all must return to the collective spectacle! For there is no such thing as “art by profession”. There is no essential difference between an artist and an actor. The artist is an exalted performer. Merciful heaven, in rare moments of illumination beyond man’s will, may allow art to blossom from the work of his hand, but the foundations of proficiency are indispensable to every artist. This is the original source of creative design.
So let us therefore create a new ensemble of actors, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavoured to raise a prideful barrier between actors and artists! Let us strive for, conceive and create the new theater of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, video and glassblowing and jewellery which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of artists as a clear symbol of a new spectacle to come.

If you know your Bauhaus well, you may recognize this text as it is a rewritten version of the Bauhaus Manifesto. When Walter Gropius wrote the original manifesto back in April 1919 he wanted to unify ”architects, painters and sculptors” by going back to the crafts and combine it with fine arts. When I’m rewriting it now, to the month exactly 100 years later, I’m also aiming to unify not only architects, painters and sculptors, but all artistic disciplines, through a revival of, and return to, the performative arts within the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

We are always told to get out of our comfort zone, to aim for the impossible, the fantastic, to let us be carried away and explore our dreams. Where else better to do all that than in the context of the theater? It has room for, and it needs, everybody’s interests and practices! Apart from performers it needs just as many writers, sculptors, painters, musicians, designers, costume makers – you name it. Furthermore, there is nothing you can’t do on stage; if you want to fly, then you fly! This limitless space of imagination and exploration is something that should be available and encouraged for everyone, performer or not. With calling it ”theater” rather than ”performative arts” we can also emphasize on this collaboration and intertwining of knowledge and different practices which is absolutely essential.

”But you can already do this, you can do (almost) all you want at the academy!” some might say, and while that sure is true, the space and importance given to performative arts in this school is very limited compared to it’s precursor. Yes, there is a small group of teachers and students engaged with it within the academy (basically restricted to the Fine arts and VAV departments), and yes there used to be a theater department back in the days. But why isn’t it a natural part of the education for all of us, and not only for students in a certain department?

I say:

Let’s have theater class once a week in Basic Year!

Let’s build a proper stage with opportunities to experiment with light, sound, scenography and spatial design!

Let’s all and everyone, from our different practices and fields of interests, unite and collaborate in this machinery that is the Theater!

In the spirit of Oskar Schlemmer, I wish for us a rich and alive theater as the most central and unifying element of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

Let’s make a spectacle!

Safeplace?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“Any person of good repute, without regard to age or sex, whose previous education is deamed adequate by the council of masters will be admitted as far as space permit.”
Is the last statement of Walter Gropius in his Bauhaus Manifesto in 1919. It shows how open minded the school is in this early 20th century, opening the door of the art school to everyone.  At this time when women were not admitted in academies, the gender parity was respected at the Bahaus Schule, at it begining. Over the years, the number of admitted women will be considerably reduce.

Later on according to Gropius “Men thougth in three dimension while women can only handle two.” Relagated to the backgroung, females students had to figth male hostility to go beyond the textile workshop. Add to that how machiste the legacy of the Bahaus is and I can define females as a minoritie regarding this school. They had to figth to get into the education, then during their study to open doors of different workshop and achieve their goals more then others. Then 100 years later we have to figth for their memory to be inscribed in the Bauhaus heritage. In the Bauhaus book about great figures of the Bauhaus that I borrow in the library, their was nothing about Annie Albers or Marianne Brandts, while both had leadership position in the school.  Female work were not respected and is still not. During the power point presentation in class at the Rietveld, still nothing about women’s work or figures. Why do we keep forgetting about them even tho it was such a big change that their were admitted in such studies and they achieved so many great things such as their male co-wokers?

From 2016 to 2018 I did a bachelor in textile in ENSAAMA school in Paris. Some design teacher use to call our departement “napkin scetion”. Not safeplace or open minded attitude. I still had to figth for my work to be respected and all the departement was feeling like a minority in the school. I felt like in Rietveld I haven’t experience that or even had to think about my “female position” compare to the outside world, or just in Amsterdam for exemple. Why is that? Is Rietveld a safeplace? For everyone?

During the Studium General I noticed that the relation between Rietveld and minorities was an significant subject for the school. But I couldn’t really understand how they related to this. What minorities exactly? Why these one and not others? Is their a real issue or do they create the issue ? Or maybe their will always be an issue and the safeplace is an ideal. Is it possible to achieve to be the perfect open minded art school or will it always reject someone? How long does it takes for a rejected minoritie to feel safe in an art school? And outside? What about the minorities inside the school? Quickly a thousand of questions came into my mind. I felt like if I was diving into an ocean of non resolving problematics. Then i asked to Mirjam the student concelor some of the questions below but she couldn’t help me and directed me to another person but I didn’t had an answer yet.

So I decided to ask the point of view of students arround me to maybe see more clearly. Here are the questions. The answer of five different persons follow in my notebook:

  1. How would you describe minorities in Rietveld?
  2. Do you recognize yourself as a minority?
  3. Do you see it as a problem?
  4. Is beeing a minority in the school is different then in the coutside?
  5. How according to you the school is involved in theses subjects?
  6. Are they some significant change that the school could impliment to improve the ‘safeplace’ for rejected minorities in art school?     

 

Art School or Art Factory?


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The students and teachers of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie are outraged. Protest have broken out the talks of a strike are becoming harder and harder to deny. After a leaked email from the heads of the Rietveld Academie strongly suggesting what many student already suspected, the school is using the students as unpaid workers.  There has been talks between students and some teachers for a couple of months about this  development that for many is described as criminal and not for this time, anno 2019.  The school is under investigation as we speak to see if the way the school has been treating the students is really unethical and it could result in a high fee for the school, the heads of the school are facing jail time and there are  even talks about a complete shutdown of the school.

The Gerrit Rietveld Academie is known to be pretty closed off for the public. They don’t have to adhere to certain rules that other higher education institutes do have have to adhere to, like the fact that they don’t have work with a point system. Also does the school not work with professional educators, but with artist, although this is with common other art schools as well. This is so they say, art schools, to stimulate the student in there education in the arts. Being around real artist will help them think and work in ways in educator could not. But all this makes the school a hard institute to keep an eye on. Many question now if this way of educating should be allowed after the news broke.

I saw many of your new pottery yesterday. They’re almost all single pieces and it would be wrong if we wouldn’t find a way to make the really good work that is in the pieces not accessible for a bigger audience.”

“We need to find a way to reproduce some of the works with machines.”

These are some of quotes that were that cause outrage among the students and some teachers. The students are being used by the school as unpaid designers, if you ask the students themselves. ‘We pay the school a higher tuition fee than other school in the Netherlands and then your own school uses you and your hard work, to sell themselves and our designs to the public. Where is all this money going to. Why am I even in school. I could apparently just start for myself,’ says Maria Sløthja a graduate student for the DesignLab department. Second year ceramics student, Frank Trebull adds;’It is like we are student athletes, but then like student designers.’ Teachers are also not pleased hearing this news, basic-year sculpture teacher Laurie Nagette has this to say;’ We cannot forget that we’re an education institute, that should be our main focus, educating the students. We shouldn’t try to make money off on them, that’s wrong.’

How the email was leaked is unclear, but there is a conjecture that one of the heads of the academy leaked it. The mail in question was send to all the heads of the school. But the remarks were made by Stijn van Kleinheest, Chairman of board of Directors. The authorities are investigating him closely, and the school has put him on inactive indefinitely.

The academy is also facing a complete shutdown, which comes with an even bigger outrage from the students. Especially among the graduate student the outrage of the shutdown was the biggest. They are in danger of not being able to graduate in that state. The academy is trying to figure a way out to prevent this from happening. They also have a problem with accepting new students for the coming year. They are considering not accepting any new students at all next year, but the admission has already started. And what to do with the rest of the students that already are studying in the academy. These are real problems the school has to face and find a solution for. For now they do not seem to have any. The teachers are also in fear of losing their jobs, for many this job is something they do next to being an artist, however for others it is there only source of income. Working at the academy is a steady pay, with is hard to find when you are in the world of arts.

I TRIED TO MAKE AN ASHTRAY


Tuesday, April 23, 2019
                                                 I TRIED TO MAKE AN ASHTRAY
At the bauhaus exhibition in the Boijmanns museum where many interesting objects and images were exhibited I started taking pictures of all the things that I liked and that interested me. After the exhibition I was still clueless what subject or object i wanted to focus on. I was interested in many parts of the exhibition but didn’t really know how to connect it to myself or to my situation at the Rietveld academy at the moment. 
Every now and then I looked through the pictures I took from the exhibition and also the catalog of the exhibition and noticed that I had taken quite some pictures of ashtrays that where exhibited. I asked myself where that interest was coming from. 
When i think of myself trying out a new material or trying to find a design, the first thing that comes to my mind is making an ashtray and I think that is something many people do in the beginning. It makes sense to start with something small and not so complicated, it makes sense to try something first where only a small amount of skills and abilities is needed, it makes sense to start like a little child by playing with a material and form, for example a vase, a teacup or an ashtray. 
I then tried to think about the students in the „Vorlehre“ in the bauhaus school and imagined that they may also started out trying a new material with making ashtrays. Also an ashtray is a decor object that is often located in the middle of a room easy accessible  for everyone but at the same time function as a design statement.
I choose one of the ashtrays from the bauhaus exhibition, it was a design by Nicolaas Petrus de Koo, I choose this ashtray in particular because i felt like the time in which it was produced was really well represented in the design and color. It took the art language of that time for example Mondrian and translated it into an every day object and at the same time it really represented the motive „form follows function“.
Form follows function was a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design which meant that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose. I think thats a really logical and sensual approach to not focus on all the „ornaments“ around but to set the focus on the pureness and the beauty of the function.
Nicolaas Petrus de Koo was a Dutch designer , book binding designer and interior designer. In the period 1901- 1905 he received his education at the Rijksschool voor kunstnijverheid Amsterdam. After spending some time in Vienna , he established himself as an architect in Baarn in 1907. In 1910 after his marriage, he became a partner at a Rotterdam furniture company. At that time he designed furniture for fellow members of the Rotterdam Art Circle. 
I imagined to be part of the zeitgeist of that time to experience the process of reproducing an exact and  polished design.
So I went and  bought some clay and started carving it and forming it. While doing that i noticed that it is going to be hard to make it look as precise as the original version. 
i tried to imagin the process of an bauhaus school student. Before they created an end product they must have made several steps and try outs to come to an end result that looked finished and not crafted.
In that sense I think that the Rietveld academy education and the bauhaus school education really differ from each other.
At the bauhaus school one received a quite specific education that would provide you with skills to produce design objects and images. The education started with a different approach, where you first learn how to produce an object, carpet, form etc. and on the ground of these tools developing a design language. 
At the Rietveld Academy on the other hand it seems the way to achieve your goals is more about thinking and reflecting and being aware of yourself and what is happening in the process. If you want to learn skills and abilities, go for it.

  

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Verbs in Herbs


Monday, April 22, 2019

Rooibos Tea.

About redness in tea.  green leafs that dries and take all  ascorbic acid away with it, from rudeness that expanded into a settler colony, to a tea latte in a wine glass in jan evertsenstraat. an exploited small mountainous area in cape town , to the Boston tea party that made the biggest tea pot in the sea, I see myself enjoying the last sips of an endemic Fabaceae going to extinction by the time I graduate rietveld.

 

GROPIUS.

if clarity is a key tea peculiarity, if metal doesn’t dander in the friction of an almost boiling glass, if the pinky in the air connotes elitism in an anti Bourgeois sphere, if tea cups are in maximum efficiency and simplicity, if the ottomans didn’t invaded the world, if the word design is aware of its meaning, not meaning, and if the cup handle is not a cup handle but an artificial cup hand.

WHAT IF GROPIUS HAD THE ULTIMATE ROOIBOS TEA IN THAT TEA CUP?

Would he have died in his sleep? 

 

Cup.

 Does a cup knows it’s a cup? does a cup like its particular shade? does it knows its position?  is it aware of it? I asked  a woman from the Boston tea party about this, she said: ”No taxation without representation!”

I think I like transparency. 

 

Airplane.

I went on a small 2 days vacation, to come to realizes in the first 3o min on the airplane that I was dinning in west, they gave us cake as the whole dinner meal, and people were clapping when they were done, then the famous exotic pride came after as a rare gem to wash our throats with the over exploited capitalism’s favorite post colonial tea ROOIBOS… 

 

What Is The Context?

Well well well, what is not? if potatoes not butter, if butter not cake, let them eat cake! or shell we find some blueberry and make ourselves ink to write on the bathrooms walls and call it vandalism, and stand next to all the isms and SCREAM  ”IS IT BETRAYAL, OR ARE WE WRITING FUTURE HISTORY!”

Let them vandal aren’t we all damged.

 

Taste.

Ummm what does it tase like?

it taste like you my love.

Do you think it tastes like the future?

oh wait, it taste like dancing in fields of yellow flowers on a midday, not so hot mid day.

Do you taste the anxiety?

it smells like their boots.

I am worried.  

Did the flavor change?

 

Stairs:

she get dizzy every time she go down the stairs, then she forget what she was thinking about. A law of intolerable acts maybe to prevent making a tea pot enough for everyone. Is for everyone? where did you get the tea from? they go or not go to Cape Town, bring or not bring the herb, the red herb!  Is it a flower or or another victimized commodity?

 

 

sound:

Manner to not sip laud, a loud sip is to care less. does it depends on the cup, or a glass cup, or cups as glass. Lauder it was as an aquarium bubbling around tiny depressed fishes in a capitalist reality. They knew, fishes signed the petition, the petition was signed for an idea that was stolen from beyond and beyond the idea that was stolen there was an idea of a stolen idea, stolen from an idea that though it will never be stolen, there was the thief that stole the stove, the stove that they made the rooibos tea on, the same tea that he might drank while making that famous teacup, that same transparent love story that was broken after making a tea that was so hot, so hot that never a human drank it ever.

 

TeaParty.

A card is thickened paper and a paper is a thinned  tree, how can we sustain if we can’t obtain alternation for consumption mania, fixating their future. Tea parties, tea breaks, smoke breaks, call them or not, They gather and discuss all what is so important and not, they assumed and forgot, we are the bitter, but what!

 

 

Kanteen.

It was early, early it was, coffee was wondering by herself on the table, on a sugary really sweet pink new paper publication sheet of paper. I poured, poured and poured In that sad paper not paper cup, and throw it in the ben, not so bin,  plastic ben, aren’t we plastic bins anyway.

 

 

 

Bauhaus and Communism?


Monday, April 22, 2019

Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artist! Let us together desire, conceive and create the new building of the future, which will combine everything – architecture and sculpture and painting – in a single form which will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith. 

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

The ending paragraph from the Bauhaus Manifesto written by Walter Gropius and a quote from the Communist Manifesto.

To me it is striking how both of these quotes talk about equalness, breaking away from classes – in society and in a working context, and how these changes will affect everybody. Yet, both ideologies, Bauhaus as a school and Communism as a form of society practiced around the world, has very prominent leading figures, who in one way or the other, has the power to rule over the students/citizens. For example, when Mies van der Rohe took over the leadership of the Bauhaus school (at this point it was located in Dessau) he had interviews with each student, to determine if they would follow the rules, else they would get kicked out. This can be linked to the arbitrary imprisonments in Cuba, happening both under Fidel Castro and now, as a higher power determining what you can and cannot do, in a society/school that claims freedom and equality as their main goals. The scale of these decisions are of course tremendously different, one is an entire nation and the other an art school in Germany, but still I find the similarities of the Bauhaus and Communism as ideologies and then as practiced in real life quite fascinating. To look further into this, I have chosen to read Animal Farm by George Orwell and compare the degeneration of their originale motive, to the Bauhaus and the Rietveld Academy as schools that are, at least to some extent, based on the same ideas of teaching. This, I guess, is very clearly seen in the Basicyear – Vorkurs in Bauhaus – which was created by Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten

Animal Farm starts of with the animals dreaming of a better life, in which they are all equal and not treated as the means to an end, but like living beings with rights no different from the humans, who rule over them. When the opportunity for their dreams rises, they seize it and try to create a life and society where they all work and receive equally. The story is never specified as communist within the book, but Orwell has stated that it is an allegory to Russia, before and after the revolution in 1917 that then led them into the Stalinist era. This new society first flourishes and is enjoyed by most until one of the pigs, Napoleon, sees a chance to gain more power. He does so by constantly telling the other animals that this is actually what they want, that he is choosing to do and so in their service. Finally *spoiler alert* it comes to a point when the other animals cannot tell a human being from a pig, their “chosen” leader has become what they tried to escape and it seems like an inevitability that this should happen.

To me, at least, this bears a lot of similarities to how the Rietveld Academy functions. A way of showing and telling one thing, but then not fully living it. This can be seen in the departments, how openness and inclusivity is advocated, while in reality interfluidness can be quite hard to achieve as a student. With classes only for ones own department (as in TxT), extremely long waiting lists for facilities (as in Glass) and very limited opening hours (as in Ceramics). Of course complete freedom and total sharing is very hard to obtain, if not impossible, but should you then, as a school, really claim these traits? On the other hand, you could claim that TxT, Glass and Ceramics are some of the departments that actually live up to the heritage of the Bauhaus as they are somewhat material and technique based.

In this context I feel it is interesting to bring up the subject of the Fine Arts department, as this goes against all the teachings in the Bauhaus. Creating just for creating, separating art from everyday life, from the craftspeople, from the non-artist. The fact that this is now one of the biggest departments at the Rietveld, can be seen as a sign that the Rietveld is becoming what the Bauhaus set out not to be. It was an animal, that turned out to be a pig and is now indistinguishable from a human. Or almost, at least.

Finally, let us look at how the Bauhaus aimed to integrate art and life, to live with art, to build a gesamtkunstwerk, which is also very much apparent in their inclusion in arts and crafts – creating things that are not art for art’s sake, but are actually usable and meant to be used in real life. When paired with the exhibition netherlands ? bauhaus – pioneers of a new world, at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, it can be eye opening to see that something that was initially meant for use and created in a sense of togetherness is now showed in vitrines, where you cannot touch, feel, or try to use the work for its purpose. Is this exactly the opposite of what the Bauhaus was trying to do?

Spatial object


Sunday, April 21, 2019

At the Bauhaus exhibition

I found two works very intriguing. I don’t know why I was attracted to, but I had to force myself to look at them carefully. Since there was something exciting to see in their work, I am going to explain it a little bit here.

 

First one is [relief h] (1919) from Oskar Schlemmer.

It’s made from plaster and the surface has several different levels. There is a recognizable face in the middle and the rest are body parts separated in abstract shapes. Each part has different way of creating shape, and the way light and shadow appear is very beautiful. Roundness or that the only face has a different texture than others, every parts has its own feature , and still it harmonizes well as a whole.

 

 

The other one is [the Berlin chair] (1923) made by Gerrit Rietveld.

Simple yet bold, it makes me feel good to look at it. It also tickle my fancy and it’s like a feeling of playing with the blocks somehow. Surprisingly the impression of the chair changes completely depending on the angle. I liked the one looking from in front of, and to the right of it, toward the front.

 

 

 

Now I will take a look at their background.

Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943)

Oskar Schlemmer was a German stage-set designer, choreographer, and teacher. He was pursuing the relationship between figure and space. Actually he himself joined the [triadic ballet] (1922) as a dancer and deepened his understanding for interaction between figure and space. Specifically about this [relief h], it’s a development from his paintings on the relief. He reduced some factors such as colors and shapes, and used white plaster, resulted in 3 dimensional effect on 2D surface. His exploration had focus in simplicity, abstractness, and space. As he was working on this abstract shapes of the relief combined with the wall surface, he made a big step by haptically thematizing the link with architecture.

Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964)

Gerrit Rietveld was a Dutch furniture designer and architect. He felt more freedom in exploration of idea when designing the furniture. About some of his chair designs, he tried to deduct conventional chair factors and find the way to express the aesthetic with only simple structure and linear lines. In the apt language of Rietveld, a chair should not be more complicated than a safety-pin.” Then dealing with the chair and space. As you can see from the picture below, the forms are considered to be continued to the surrounding space. Instead of a solitary finished angle that ends and close everything, smoothing away the construction by some degree of ornament, Rietveld has the lines and planes pass each other at nodal points. 

Also with playing the role of color, both room and furniture has dissolved into form and color, and their hierarchical relation has been eliminated.

 

 

From these two works, what I find interesting is that the object doesn’t complete within itself but unite with surroundings. It is connected. It completes with the space. Their approach to space, or their stance for challenge, I feel, is related to what I am looking for as a Rietveld Academie student.

As a premise, I want to explain what it indicates when I use the word “space” from now on. “Space” for me is not only the physicality of space, but it includes people inside, culture, common sense, habits and all to be space. In other words, environment. I feel these all things are as one space, and it influences on my mindset a lot. As a Rietveld student, I believe that the environment is suitable for exploration of space like these two designers. I couldn’t go further beyond my limitation due to my personality and environment. I wanted to go beyond those border, but didn’t know how, which means I was making the same movements within the space.

 

Let me put this into an image.

For the right one, the lines are organic texture, and arranged in a way that entire thing can be harmonized. It is hard to go out to the white empty space. On the other hand (left one), this line is drawn clearly and composed unsymmetrically. In addition, the end of line cannot be seen here and it continues outside the frame. It’s like intercepting the space boldly.

 

Suppose what is reflected on art works is how I see, think and understand things, then I see the possibility to explore my new way of living by breaking my convention through making art. The word “environment” is not enough to describe this concept. This physical part, tangible part of space seems to embody intangible parts. If it is connected, by pursuing things beyond my border in physical space, I can also explore the intangible part of feelings and reaction to society. Studying their attempts to interpret space will be the main motivation for my purpose in staying at the Rietveld Academie to search for my way of living.

Everything is One: Building


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Bauhaus manifesto published in 1919 outlines basic traits of the school. Headed with the Lyonel Feininger Cathedral (Kathedrale), the reader faces three stars shining above the turrets of the fictional basilica.

Lionel Feininger, Kathedrale, 1919, Cover of the Bauhaus Manifesto. Programme of the Bauhaus.

The three stars are said to represent the main three elements of painting, architecture and sculpture. All of which fall under the main concept of ‘building’. The Bauhaus was dreamt up upon a basis of creatives coming together, in alliance. To build work in an evolving space, a cathedral of mucky boldness, master among student, declaring craftsmanship and building as the basis of all learning.

Bauhaus itself is a blend of the word ‘to build’ and ‘house’. It takes semantic place as a ‘building house’. Now we can see the offspring of the school stretching from Berlin to Budapest, Pittsburgh and the Netherlands. Amsterdam is home to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, which too was birthed from the wave of Bauhausian teachers and students left itching to scatter and inform after the original disbanded.

The school, mostly founded on modernist design still has it’s reverberations. Is it just names that live on? Is the branding of Gerrit Rietveld, the only thing that links us to it’s educational model origins? Or is there still a cry of modernist education professing ‘building and making’ over all students?

It occurs that in the postmodern world, the act of ‘building’ is seemingly scattered. Questioned theoretically. Few are painters, sculptors or architects now. Monogamous artists are perhaps becoming a thing of the past, steadily becoming toast along with craft in art. Perhaps we aren’t building physical practices anymore – emerging in the form of degree courses like ‘Autonomous Sculpture’ surfacing at the Rietveld, a subject so loose – almost transient. The focus here is on concept, as opposed to physicality.

The original Bauhaus manifesto is not something that presents a package of transience, but one of definitive action – “Architects, sculptors, painters—we must all turn to the crafts. … The artist is an exalted artisan.” The stress is on doing. Less on thinking.

The question I would like to pose is ‘what really happened during this rework?’ In the move from modernity to postmodernity, the focus has changed. Does this mean compromise? The change has happened in many forms, yet using the policy and attitudes towards ‘building’ in the two schools, we can evaluate them on a level playing field.

In my personal day to day experiences of the school, I have never been encouraged to ‘build something’. However, I have been encouraged to think reflectively, as if constructing something from thought. Within Itten’s original preliminary base course structure, the idea of elementarization of basic artistic means plays a large part. I question wether this is still relevant with postmodernity. Elementarization was a method of finding the core of things. That could be related to shape, colour, and formal elements much better than thoughts, concept or theories. Deconstruction of colour, according to Itten’s book ‘The Elements of Colour’, allows you to provide “general rules and laws of colour, yet also relate it to subjective opinion”. Elementarization is a bid to find the root of something, the truth in which the experience lies. However, within a postmodern (Rietveld) structure, ‘truth’ itself is something shied away from. Instead of trying to find ‘the truth about colour (or making)’, we are left trying to find ‘the truth about thinking’, left ‘thinking about thinking’.

It is important to mention that even just through the existence of the Basic Year, and the formation of classes, teachers and subjects, it is apparent that the Rietveld does honour the idea of a ‘good education’, over a ‘bad one’. They have, after all  applied this structure to the course based on reason and pedagogy study (or so I would assume). Thus, the structure must be based on certain means that deem it useful or good to us as students. This leads me to believe that there is indeed a right and a wrong way to educate young artists. In other words, there is a true art education to be obtained. In the Gropius manifesto of 1919, ‘What is Architecture’, this truth lies in “architecture, painting and sculpture”. But the world today demands a wider spectrum of conversation.

I can see both sides of the story in so much that The Rietveld has to keep up to date with the process’ of the current art world, but coming from a somewhat dated model. When beginning this essay, I was under the impression that the school was undergoing some kind of identity crisis. Attempting to link themselves to their withering ancestral roots in Bauhaus. I would argue that the link is indeed withering. That can be seen in their policies on ‘making’. It is perhaps more of a historical connection now. In truth, If I wanted to become a master woodworker, I could. But it wouldn’t line up with the philosophy of the school. I have personally received criticism for dedicating myself towards attempting to become a kind of master in one material.

In conclusion, Gropius himself would suggest that the Rietveld needs a re-work if we are to base our education on a Bauhausian model. I think he would suggest that there are no ‘master craftspeople’ being raised up.

The Rietveld Academie has not explicitly chosen to follow the Bauhaus manifesto like some kind of Bible, so, from the perspective of a student studying here now, the school is allowed to deviate from the original blueprints due to societal changes. I personally think it’s great that we aren’t all sold into unpaid labour making zig-zag chairs. Yet, the school should probably analyse its withering links to the past. Just like inevitably a grandson will probably have different interests to his Grandfather. The Rietveld is not in an identity crisis, but slowly developing the ability to keep proud the family name, yet not live in the shadow of it’s ancestry. There will probably be a time, when the Rietveld’s education model will bear no similarity at all with that of the Bauhaus.

  1. Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color, John Wiley and Sons Inc, Hoboken, 1970
  2. Bauhaus-imaginista.org. (2019). The Bauhaus Manifesto – Articles – bauhaus imaginista. [online] Available at: http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/1771/bauhaus-manifesto-re-cap [Accessed 21 Apr. 2019]
  3. Danchev, D., 2011. 100 Artists’ Manifestos: From the Futurists to the Stuckists. (s.n.). p159-p161 (M33 Walter Gropius – What is Architecture? 1919)
Nick van Pelt

Bauhuas ‘Vorkurs(preliminary)’ and Rietveld ‘Basic year’


Sunday, April 21, 2019

When I first heard “Bauhaus,” my first impression of it was just “big movement that is important in the history of European art” Because I didn’t have much interest and think it was not really related to me.
But Boijmans Museum’s exhibition of Bauhaus, where I went without any expectations, influenced me more than I expected.
The systematic learning of basic things, such as materials and colors, seemed boring at first glance, but were the most dynamic and interesting things. Exploring the properties of materials, understanding the various and contrary things, geometric shapes and colors are the most essential elements for art, but I had missed them.
Through the writings of Johannes Itten, founder of Bauhaus vorkurs (preliminary course), I could understand exactly why Bauhaus put so much effort into these things.

     Let’s take a look at the works that I saw at the exhibition and the writings of Johannes Itten together.

          

   Two of the most distinct elements of Bauhaus : Geometric form and primitive colors

“ The clear geometric form is the one most easily comprehended and its basic elements are the circle, the square and the triangle. Every possible form lies dormant in these formal elements. They are visible to him who sees, invisible to him who does not. Form is also colour. Without colour there is no form. Form and colour are one…Geometric forms and the colours of the spectrum are the simplest, most sensitive forms and colours and therefore the most precise means of expression in a work of art.” 1

 

It was like playful work of children. It made me think differently about the concepts and the properties of materials that I had been knowing.

 

Forms and colours were discussed and presented in any number of polar contrasts. These contrasts can be presented as intellectual concepts…The students had to present these carious contrasts, separately and in combinations, in a manner that allowed our senses to perceive them convincingly.” “All artistic effects are based on the creation of contrasts. We not only studied their contrasts – smooth-rough, hard-soft, light-heavy—visually but also explored them with our fingertips…To deepen and control the experience, students had to contemplate, touch, and raw these textures until they knew them by heart and could reproduce them out of their inner perception, without the natural model.” 2

Among the many exhibits, the drawings that caught my eye turned out to be from vorkurs works.

I was fascinated by these rhythmical lines and colors 

“ The teacher’s most difficult problem is the liberation and deepening of the inner spiritual sense of perception. To conduct exercises in that area one needs a very pliable, labile material which reacts immediately to the slightest motion of the hand. I used india ink brushes and soft charcoal” “The success of these studies wholly depends on the student’s ability to overcome his intellect and the function of his senses and give himself totally to spontaneous feeling. An inner automatism quite naturally gives a convincing outer form to his feelings.” 3

 

Johannes Itten’s ideals of education were very impressive and as a Gerrit Rietveld student, I related to that.
Itten found it difficult to judge students because they all have different talents and characters.
So the vorkurs was built, and students were able to have time to think fully about their interests and aptitudes as they went through this course. I think it is the same reason why Rietveld Academie persists in the basic year while many other schools have given it up already.
Students at Bauhaus had to explore and enlighten themselves without relying on the knowledge from the outside. Itten emphasized inner growth and self-examination, so he went back to the quest for more basic things and helped discover students’ interests and talents through them.

I felt lost when I came to the Rietveld Academie at first. I was used to Korean cramming education, that was why it was difficult and awkward for me to think about myself and being on one’s own. Of course, I’m used to them now, and this new way of education has given me a chance to think deeply about myself.
Drawing and painting, theory, design, mixed media and sculpture, learning these five subjects, and using various workshops, I could see what I liked and disliked, or what I didn’t do well.
The fairly free atmosphere of discussion and feedback also helped me broaden my horizons.

Pictures of Rietveld Academie basic year class

 

pictures of Bauhaus vorkurs

   Interestingly, you can find quite similar things. Both educations seem to be exploring materials.

They have a lot in common, but the reason Bauhaus’ education seemed more interesting to me is probably because of the physical exercise. Itten gave the class exercises in relation, breathing, and concentration to achieve a spiritual state and physical readiness during instruction period.4
He thought the training the body as an instrument of the spirit is essential to an artist’s creativity. That is why, before attempting class, the students were asked to limber up their bodies and minds by physical jerks, controlled breathing, and meditation.5 I agree with his opinion as a yoga and meditation lover.
I believe that the body and mind are connected and the brain also moves more actively when the body is ready and activated.

Imagine, wouldn’t it be more fun and energetic if we did yoga together at school or if we did weird exercises before we painted?

 

Maybe ‘Basic year’ is the most important time as an artist. This is because it is an opportunity to experience many challenges and failures without constraint. So far, I have been busy just completing my assignment. After learning of Bauhaus’ educational philosophy, I began to reflect on my attitude and to think about how to deal with my work in the future. I will bear in mind the philosophy of Bauhaus, which is attentive to the sounds of body and mind, faithful to the basics and always exploring.

 

 

1)Frank whit ford, Bauhaus, Thames and hudson, 1984, London, page 106
2)Gyorgy kepes, Education of vision, Studio vista, 1965, Newyork, page 105,106
3)Gyorgy kepes, Education of vision, Studio vista, 1965, Newyork, page115
4)Gyorgy kepes, Education of vision, Studio vista, 1965, Newyork, page105
5)Frank whit ford, Bauhaus, Thames and hudson, 1984, London, page 55

Colorconsequence.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Colorconsequence.

As a student in the basicyear at the Reitveld Academie I have started to discover the lack of teachings on the consequence of color. Many of the employes in the Academie I have discussed this matter with has answered (according to my perception of their given answer) that it is not an up-to-date topic. Yet I consider myself aiming at this from a painting perspective, the knowledge of colorconsequence is important, so it seems, also within the realm of what I define as Design. The Reitveld Academie has been described to me, during my time as a student, as it takes great pride in the use of what could be called ”The Bauhaus” model. Design and Fine arts share the same space with all of the crafts that you can fit into those two realms.  What I have started to investigate has begun to make me realize that there is colorconsequence to pretty much everything for someone whom has the ability to see, and is therefore of upmost importance as a subject in our education for every department in the Academie.

Johannes Itten mentions in his introduction of the book ”The Elements of Color” a simple example of how important color can be to space,

– ”The mausoleum of Galla Placidia, now at Ravenna, Italy, is dominated by a remarkable colored atmosphere of grey light. This effect is produced by bathing the blue mosaic walls of the interior in an orange light, filtered through narrow windows of orange-tinted alabaster. Orange and blue are complementary colors, the mixing of which yields gray” 1.

Johannes Itten goes on giving examples on how the element of color is used in other scientific proffesions,

– ”The physicist studies the nature of electromagnetic energy vibrations and particles involved in the phenomena of light, the several origins of color phenomena such as the prismatic dispersion of the white light and the problems of pigmentation. He investigates mixtures of chromatic light, spectra of the elements, frequencies and wave lengths of colored light rays. Measurements and classification of colors are also topics of the physical research.

The chemist studies the molecular structure of dyes and pigments, problems of color fastness, vehicles and preparation of synthetic dyes. Color chemistry today embraces an extraordinarily wide field of industrial research and production.

The physiologist investigates the various effects of light and colors on our visual apparatus-eye and brain – and their anatomical relationships and functions. Research on light -and dark- adapted vision occupies an important place. The phenomenon of afterimages is another physiological topic.

The psychologist is interested in problems of the influence of color radiation on our mind and spirit. Color symbolism, and the subjective perception and discrimination of colors, are important psychologial problems. Expressive color effects, what Goethe called the ethico-aesthetic values of colors-likewise fall withn the psychologists province.” 1.

It strikes me how color is such a essential part of our visual world that it is crucial to understand how it works, it is a very subjective matter among humans but also between species. If I look to nature I would like to state that the fundamental meaning of color is communication. Communication in the way of understanding what to avoid and not to survive.

After having some time digesting this research, having discussions with students, teachers and people whom are not profesionaly involved in fine ars and design, I’m starting to change my approach towards color and its consequence, also understand why color does not have the same essential role in our education as it had for the Bauhaus students. The other week my roommate had his father visiting. We were strolling around the center of Haarlem when we decided to enter The Frans Hals museum. An exhibition suggesting contemporary aspects of Frans Hals work was showing including art works by contemporary artists. One of the main focuses was the color of the walls in the museum rooms.  Instead of the normaly used white, changing hues of a green/yellow color represented each room. Even if I read this before entering I did not notice how the constant change of hue was effecting our approach towards the exhibition. I was so focused in over analysing the art itself. Not until my roommates father (my roomate had been in the same overanalysing state as me) suggested that the change of wallcolor had effected how we critized the exhibition and it’s art pieces showing, it struck me that I’m so overfed with critizising artworks that I lose perception of what else is happening around, which might suggest that my overthinking of how I use color based on the old colorstudies published is only an obstacle and not an asset. During painting classes after this I realized how I produce more balance with color by not thinking about the old colorstudies but by using my instinct. So after presenting my idea last time in class a short discussion with our design techer ended up him stating that our contemporary perception of color and its consequence is a common knowledge based on that the society we grow up in now posses a greater awareness in differ from to what people during Itten’s time learned and experienced. Though Itten also said,

– ”For the artist, effects are decisive, rather than agents as studied by physics and chemistry. Color effects are in the eye of the beholder. Yet the deepest and truest secrets of color effect are, I know invisible even to the eye, and are beheld by the heart alone. The essential eludes conceptual formulation” 1.

We are observing the world and our reality from our perspective, the person next to you has another perception of reality. We tend to assume that the rest of the humans have the same moral, same understanding and same ethics as oneself but when it comes to whats right or wrong, good or bad I would like to think that there are as many truths on this planet as there are humans. One reality for every human. Then you have all other plants and creatures on the planet experiencing the moment in ways not understandable to humans. This also would mean that there is one perception on color for every human, so in the end it is up to the creator to determine what purpose the colors used fits his or hers reality. Josef Albers writes in his book “Interaction of Color”,

”In order to use color effectively it is neccesary to recognize that color deceives continually” 2.

For a more contemporary (digital) approach towards color please visit “The Color Library” made by Maximage.  Maximage is a Swiss collaborative studio established in 2008 who created a website they call ”The Color Library”.

 

  1. Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color, John Wiley and Sons Inc, Hoboken, 1970, page 9, 12 and 7.
  2. Josef Albers, Interaction of color 50th anniversary, Yale University Press, London, 2013, page 1.

Nicolas Bourriaud – The Exform – Designed by Erik Carter


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I saw this little guy in the library and decided to pick it up.

The first thing that caught my eye was the vibrant neon back cover of the book. It fascinated me to see something so small yell out for attention in such a violent way, almost as if it was a small Chihuahua, barking at the slightest suggestion of danger.

Having fallen for this Chihuahua’s barking, I picked it up and flipped it around, expecting it to yell as loudly as its backside did. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The front of the book showcased a multicolored illustration, displaying repetitive shapes reminiscent of a futuristic painting by Russolo. The stacked curved shapes and the black space beside them caused the illustration to look spacious, as if I was looking through a window into an unknown dimension.

The use of color was quite dimmed, though, which exaggerated the contrast between the front and the back cover. However, there wasn’t a disharmony between the two, due to similar colors being present in the illustration and the neon green corners cutting off the edges of the illustration.

Opening the book was kind of a let-down, I was expecting something as vibrant and thrilling as the cover, but the inside just looked like an ordinary book to me. I guess you really can’t judge a book by its cover! However, I’m sure the content of the book is equally as thrilling as it’s cover.

Regardless of the content, I’m still happy that I chose this book.

I decided to investigate the design a bit more in depth. On the bottom of the back cover, I found the name of the designer; Erik Carter.

With a quick Google search of the name, I found the following information on his website.

Carter is an art director and graphic designer based in California. He’s worked as a senior designer at MTV, an art director at Google and The New York Times. In a brief list of his big clients I found the name Verso Books, which is the publisher of the book I chose in the library. This gave me hope that I’d be able to find a lot of information about my little Chihuahua.

 

A still image from an animation Erik Carter did for BuzzFeed

Upon reading that Erik Carter worked as a designer of on-air animations for MTV, I was brought back to the afternoons in my teenage years I’d spent mindlessly watching television. A strong memory that stuck with me from those afternoons were the flashy intense animations MTV would present before and after a commercial break. I always found those animations incredibly confusing and interesting, and I’d wonder who came up with these wacky designs. This unexpected link to a memory from the past gives me the impression that I was somehow destined to find this book and research it.

I started reading articles and listening to interviews with Erik Carter, hoping to find some information about my precious little book. And then, in an interview with the “Type Directors Club” I found what I was looking for. Turns out that my book was part of a five part book series that Verso books commissioned Carter to design covers for. The covers form one continuing image when put next to each other. My book is the last book in the series, the youngest of its siblings.

In the interview, Erik Carter talked about the process of creating the covers in collaboration with the publisher. Turns out it was quite a stressful process, with many rejected ideas in the short time frame of only three weeks. Many designs he presented were found to be too busy. This eventually led him to the final design, which, while still having an energetic design, still reads as calm and somewhat minimalist.

A nice detail to the design was the story behind the background. What seemed like a mysterious space-scape to me, was actually part of a collage Carter made of advertisements he found in Playboy magazine. He explained that part of the background was actually just a distorted image of ice cubes. Knowing this, the book and its design gained an element of playfulness to me.

So here I am, knowing what I know now about this (ex-)stranger in front of me, feeling like I’ve learned its entire life-story, no secrets left to uncover. Of course this is completely untrue, since I haven’t read a single word of the book’s content.

I know the book now as a designed object, not as a bearer of information. I can’t help but feel like the book has more of an autonomous identity to me now, than if I had only read its content, even though I only looked at its cover.

 

Nicolas Bourriaud: The Exform. design by Åbäke, Rietveld library number: 700.6 bour 4

I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS


Sunday, March 10, 2019

I CAN’T

WORK

LIKE

THIS

                                                         

      I have chosen an orange book, about the size of a big holiday novel. But with a cover much more animated than a novel.

      The title in bold immediately intrigued me: I CAN NOT WORK LIKE THIS. The title is a point of view, an affirmation, rather mysterious, in any case attractive, which challenges us, and that we want to understand by opening the book. Who is it? What work? What prevents who to work? And what does this negation mean? Is it an edgy, or paranoid character?

 

      The typography of the title and the first pages, is impersonal, an imposing typo: Helvetica. But page after page, we discover a set of typography that become more and more specific and personalFirst a novel writing: The Times New Roman; then the typographic style of a typewriter: ADLER; and finally, handwritten characters.

        The paragraphs are changing too. At the beginning, they are inserted seriously and strictly to the right of the pages. Then the paragraphs come to life, and bend in every direction; some follow the form of images; others are divided in the same way as on the pages of an agenda. Each time the titles are put forward, they are imposing, and have an important line before the beginning of the paragraph.

        Unlike typography and paragraph, images retain their homogeneity and conductive line throughout the book. These are the torn paper effects that surround the images, and organize the book as a collage. Some images are not limited to pages, and may overflow and continue on the next page. All images are in black and white. Only the cover has color (orange). These images mix a little all times, and all media. These are both old letters, drawings and photos, but also screen shots of Facebook conversations or emails. This kaleidoscope of images and times makes us lose ourselves in time. There are also many scans of manuscripts, with arrows in all directions, words over-lined or surrounded to follow the reasoning of the creator.

      The spine of the book also deserves a comment, because the drawing on the borders of pages overflows and bleeds from the pages. These are black lines that remind of tearing of the book. This creates a dotted pattern when looking at the book from the side which is also convenient for finding your way in the book, since they indicate a beginning of chapters.

 

        Everything looks like a patchwork. Looking at the graphic designer’s chart, Krysztof Pyda, you immediately recognize the spirit that has imagined the book. The instagram of the designer is indeed a collection of images, and it is exactly this same idea, this same visual ensemble that one finds in his book. It is a multitude of documents, more or less connected at first sight, but which are connected by arrows, handwritten indications, which gradually make us enter into the intimacy of the creator. That’s why I chose this book: it intrigued me like an intimate diary. Each page is a surprise, each time more personal than the previous one.

            In deepening a little more, I realized that it was a book whose subject was about art and politics. First, the subtitle clearly tells us: A READER ON RECENT BOYCOTTS AND CONTEMPORARY ART. Then, the purpose is clarified with images mixing political slogans, caricatures, works of art, photos of events, maps of the world. These images are connected to each other by arrows; some parts of the documents are broken. We enter into the imagination of the creator, having the impression of following the path of her research and her thought. The reader does not read a book whose purpose is purely political, but is drawn to the point of view and the vision of the creator. These are not speeches with dates and facts, as we could see in an history book. They are pieces of image, texts, full of documents, where each page expresses, strengthens and defends the general idea and the point of view of its creator.

           This book immediately reminded me of my sketchbooks and research books. I work a lot with collages, snippets of images, and my notebooks are also disparate collections of papers, covered with drawings and handwriting. All the papers I keep in this notebook have for me a story, show something of our generation, even if they are as everyday and innocuous as for example cash receipts or or transport tickets. All in any case are related to the places I cross, to people I met, all remind me of a particular moment. On each page, I play with the composition, an image in the foreground completes that from below.


I CAN NOT WORK LIKE THIS, is a book that I loved to turn the pages, flip, flip, stop, first for visual pleasure, but also to try to understand how it is organized, graphically. The creator really plunges the reader into his most personal research, his thoughts and his points of view, like an intimate diary.

Joanna Warsza : I Can't Work Like This a reader on recent boycots and contemporary art. designer: Krysztof Pyda, Rietveld Library Cat. no: 700.7 war 1


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