Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A little Kraut with your typeface?

One of the persistent diseases afflicting my brain has been "are you an art kid, or a scientist?" The seeming dichodomy of these two identities - the creative, eccentric artist and the logical, process-oriented, anal-rentive scientist has gotten me into a lot of trouble including and most especially the pursuit of competency in web design. In an environment ruled by code and pixels you might hesitate to imagine a weirdo who spent her time in art school decoupaging everything and covered in charcoal would find fufillment - BUT you need only look toward twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design to make sense of the madness.

Last weekend, accompanied by my favorite partner in crime, I visited the Neue Galerie in New York City. I fell in love with this museum purely by accident - I was lured into its book store by an entire wall populated with the work of Egon Schiele - and returned to visit the exhibits more thoroughly. The second floor hosts the works of decorative artists (Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser and Dagobert Peche), architects (Jospeh Urban, Otto Wagner) and is peppered by the fine art of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka to name a few. The third floor indulges the various movements of the early twentieth-century including the Blaue Reiter, The Bruke, the Bauhaus, the Neue Sachlichkeit and the applied arts from both Werkbund and Bauhaus.

If you are at all familiar with these works the relationship between this period of design aesthetic and web design is obvious. You need only glance over a list of typefaces to see the influence - Palatino and Optima by Hermann Zapf, Univers and Frutiger by Paul Rand, for instance. And we can credit Paul Rand and Josef Muller-Brockmann for the Bauhaus inspired minimalistic posters, logos and advertising.

So here's to the German and Austrian artists of the twentieth-century for making me feel better about fitting pixels in grids, obeying the golden rectangle, and getting a little weird! Please pass the 'kraut.
(originally posted 1/12/07 at http://www.antharia.com/blog/)

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