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"zeitgeist" Tag


matter of drawings


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Finding your way in the Designblog, we all do it in a different way. What catches our interests? What do we remember of it and how do we connect it to other links, artists, events, books etc? I was browsing thru the Designblog and ended up in the category ‘Beeld en Taal’ (image and language), went into the illustration part and found this post: Considerations on the matter of drawing.  Luca Carboni is explaining his fascinations for drawing and asks himself if drawing is one of the oldest way in which mankind is expressing itself, is drawing a medium in which the Zeitgeist is always an important part.

In drawing you can see the influence of the time. Luca says: ‘As an expression of time it’s the best medium to communicate something of that moment, every idea, process, image.’

8e90d8fe-ab97-11e2-9637-ae88113b62bc    Luca connects this with the book “The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925-1975” from the Rietveld library. The book exists out of different cartoons from “New Yorker” magazine in the period 1925 till 1975.  Cartoons made by: Saul Steinberg, William Steig, Richard Taylor, Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, Geoge Booth, Barney Tobey, James Thurber, Charles Saxon and many more. One of the best known is Saul Steinberg who worked for almost 60 years for the New Yorker. The magazine is a combination of fiction and journalism. The cartoons in the magazine have always played an important role. Above that, until the 1990s they never used photographs but only illustration.

Pantumblr_md4nqoNce51rfltouo1_500

When I read the post for the first time, I immediately made the connection with the artists Brecht Evens (born in 1986). He is a Belgium artists who makes a lot of cartoons, illustrations and strips. I think in his beautiful watercolor drawings  you can see that the time we live is an import aspect, just like in the album of drawings from the New Yorker. Evans worked for the ‘New York times himself. A part from that he published two books. Most recent: “De liefhebbers” [The Making Of] (2011) and before that “Ergens waar je niet wil zijn” [The Wrong Place] (2009).

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In the cartoons of the New Yorker the zeitgeist indeed plays an import part. And it is this what makes those drawings so smart and funny. Is this all that matters?  Was it only the time we lived in, that played an import roll. We still do admire the drawings and cartoons these artists made. The drawings still speak to us.

Brecht EVens2

The same goes for Brecht Evens. There is something mysterious about these drawings that always holds our attention, regardless of the time in which we live.

Considerations on the matter of drawing.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

What is drawing? Is it possible to define it as one of the basic way of expression of mankind? I think so. And as a so elementary medium it is also possibly the most versatile. That’s why I’m so fascinated by this powerful medium, I guess.

The sign traced on the ground, at first, and then on rock, paper and many other materials is the most immediate gesture, which remains for the future. It is something that survives the moment it is done, it’s time itself expressed, and gives the possibility of a general overlook on the process of tracing, and therefore of thoughts. As an expression of time it’s the best medium to communicate something of that moment, every idea, process, image. The zeitgeist of a precise moment. Applying the drawing process in history, humanity had described itself for millenniums, and the language didn’t replace this medium, and overpassed its power.

There’s a book who in which this process appears evident, a book who inspired these considerations: “The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925-1975″ by Penguin Books (ISBN 0140049681). It is a collection of cartoons from the famous american magazine, all the cartoons from several artists, Saul Steinberg, William Steig, Richard Taylor, Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, Geoge Booth, Barney Tobey, James Thurber and Charles Saxon among others, that contributed to its celebrity and authoritativeness. Many designers and artists worked and keep on working for the magazine, expressing by cartoons the daily facts, the ideas they had and their considerations on every topic that comes into their mind. The book as a powerful archive of human activity, a window open on a huge part of social, cultural, politic context of our times.

idea - gesture - sign

Through a closer look to its cartoons it is possible to spot many of the concepts i’ve mentioned in the first lines of this essay. For instance, this cartoon by Steinberg, in its essentiality, holds the articulated concept of the idea that becomes gesture and then sign, being able to disclose its nature. It happens, as in this case, that the sign itself tells much more than a thousand words. In fact, I won’t spend more words on this concept.

i say flower, what you get?

But drawing is also subjective, being the expression of a singularity. In this cartoon the dancing girl expresses something through her gesture (which, in this case, don’t concretizes itself into a sign), but every one of her class mates gets a different concept from the one she feels. It’s clear that, so as in tracing sign everyone puts something of him/herself, in acknowledging it the viewer puts what is part of his/her experience of the world. This causes the fact that drawing as a medium is also very personal, and even if is possible to state that there are not good drawers and bad drawers (the sign is not objective, but reflects the exact image of the drawer), is also possible to say that a good drawing, on the field of expression, is the one that communicates in the best way the concept that inspired it, and the purest it is, the better the idea goes straight into the viewer.

drawing is a personal and a collective processConsidering the history, thou, the drawing had always been the way to describe the zeitgeist of a period, through the widest range of expressions. Is it personal or or collective, then? Is it the personal expression of a singularity or the collective depiction of a society? I think that it is both, depending on the scales we can consider drawing, as the process that turns the expression of a singularity into a depiction of a society is also a collective process.

Another question. The culture influences the art of drawing and drawing itself builds consciousness and culture. Is there a good use we can make of it?

more police lines, please!

Rietveld > lib. cat. no: 738.8 new

everything is design, design is for everybody!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Every Thing Design is a book by Hatje Cantz which presents a large number (more than 700) of design works from the collection of Zurich Gestaltung Museum. It mainly shows prints and posters, but includes also a wide range of other objects from many famous designers. The book is, among books designed by Irma Boom (and some of her own library), on display at the Bijzondere Collecties Gallery, in Amsterdam.

everything design!

First of all the cover: it’s all black, with a white cheap potato peeler; visually it makes concrete what the title say: everything is design! Design is for everybody! The layout of the book presents the objects making interesting comparisons and associating them in couples which have a sort of connection. What’s interesting, in this couples, is that they do respond to a logic that can be less obvious than expected, as a time, place or artist order, but very explicit. Mainly, they are similar objects and visuals from very different periods and uses but with the same strength, the same conceptual value, the same way to visualize the zeitgeist of the period. So the cover of issue one of the magazine “Neue Grafik” (1958) showing the text perfectly insert into a square grid, is associated to a typeface from the early 20s’, the “new graphic” of the time. Two more recent comparison: the first shows the (famous) poster from Obey’s art for the electoral campaign of Obama in 2008 and the (as much) well known poster of Bob Dylan drawn during the 60′s by Milton Glaser, while the second present the famous Levi’s commercial with the Michelangelo’s David dressed up with Levi’s jeans short, with a more recent HnM’s poster of a beautiful and sensual girl wearing a tiny bikini. In the first couple is explicit the high moral value of the person represented, with the “Che Guevara alike” glance of Obama in the “hand-crafted”, old school appearance of the poster, and the streamy colorful hair of an outlined-comic looking Bob Dylan which transforms the pacifist songwriter into an icon. In the second there also is an iconic value which is a bit “debunk”, and while 30 years ago this value was embodied by a masterpiece of art, nowadays it is just the body of the women to be sold.

What i liked the most is the comparison that offers, which i think it’s a fundamental way of thinking in art and design, and the general look that encourages, contributing to shape better the word “design”, depicting the spirit of the time and taking it away from the idea of a competition between world known designers to create the most posh version of a lemon squeezer, and giving it the role of a discipline which applies to many levels and fields, a way to better resolve mankind problems. Design must be everything for everybody!


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