Design is the most basic human creative activity. One could argue that Palaeolithic cave drawings were based on this fundamental human creative need. The word ‘design’ derives from the Italian word ‘disegno’, meaning ‘drawing of a work’. Many confuse the notion of ‘Design’ to ‘Art’. Design can well be seen in art, but as an independent subject it must be considered as entirely different. One of the first to distinguish this difference, were several British design historians, dating from 1977.
Design can be seen and experienced everywhere. Design can be a development progress or an object. Definition for the word design given by designer Richard Seymour is ‘making things better for people’.¹ Design expands so vastly, It can be seen in furniture, advertising, machinery, books, media, fashion, computers, food and in many other fields.
Design nowadays is a subject of university study, such as ‘graphic design’ and ‘industrial design’ etc. It has always been accepted that anyone who ‘created’ something, or made something look good, aesthetic or beautiful could be considered a ‘designer’. Even though most people believe that a good design is one that looks beautiful, this is not always the case. A good design is one which focuses mainly upon its intended function. A successful design is one that completely fulfils the needs of its intended purpose, ‘Form Follows Function’. A designer must be able to meet several points: aesthetical, artistic, theoretical, mechanical, organizational and functional.
The word ‘design’ holds much meaning and design paradoxes are endless , it would therefore be impossible to analyse them all. The focus of this review essay is the architectural area of design.
In early 1937, Czech philosopher, Jan Mukarovsky developed a model of five functions for architecture: the immediate, the historical, the personal, the social and the aesthetic’.
In the arena of Art and Architecture, Design is a basic principle that must be carried out through every piece of work. In this respect, ‘design’ is an idea, a concept, which is transferred from the individual’s mind on to canvas, paper, blue print etc.
In England (16th century) the term design was used under the sense of ‘plan from which something is to be made…a drawn sketch for an artwork’, but also s Bernhard Burdek said: ‘an object of applied arts;’
Design can be anything that stings ones imagination. Italian designer Giorgio Giugiano says: ‘there is nothing without design’.
As the 20th century approached new attitudes in Art made their appearance. New styles were discovered by different artistic experiments such as ‘Art Nouveau’, ‘Arts and Crafts’ ‘Art Deco’. These artistic trends and movements would encompass the styles referred to as the ‘ism’s of the period, for example; Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and others. Some of these aforementioned areas had an impact in Architecture, but it must be noted that the Architectural field consisted of its own movements which rose within these decades.
Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Renaissance architects and artists would combine their knowledge in order to produce a building design which combined and encompassed both the beauty of Art, but also the power and discipline of Architecture.
The roots of Modern Art dates back to the 19th century. Artists were experimenting with their paintings and sculptures in order to find something different, something that could express better what the painter, sculptor saw or felt, but at the same time enabling the observer to experience the artwork himself through his personal emotions. Areas of the Modern Art movement will be further analysed in the forthcoming paragraphs and their connection with the architectural styles which were popular at that time. Even though the modern era in architecture consists of several other movements (Usonianism, Constructivism, Purism etc), the purpose of this review is to analyze the influences that Art had on Architecture during the 20th century.
Within the first decade of the 20th century, the first movement in Modern Art, to make its appearance was Expressionism. Painters such as Vincent van Gogh would flatten their paintings using lines, exaggerating certain fragments of the painting, either by using bright colours or by just the simple and minimal black and white. This simplified way of painting would usually portray sceneries focusing not on the beauty as the public was use to, but the suffering, poverty and violence were the notions presented.
Parallel to Expressionism in Art, Expressionist Architecture started to develop. Most examples Can be found in Germany and a few other European countries. Similarly to artists trying to picture the cold truth of a human’s life without any essence of beauty, leading architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropins and Hans Poelzig developed poetical and dramatic designs influenced by natural forms which consisted of unusual shapes and massing. Manmade materials, such as, brick, steel, concrete and most importantly glass were key characteristics to this architectural style.
In the lithograph on the left, ‘Scream’, also known as ‘Shouting’, the notion of sadness , fear or even death have been pictured; the print consists only of lines, which all lead to the centre of the picture, to the most important part, the screaming figure. The facial characteristics of the human head are very minimal, and may remind one of a caricature or a cartoon; even though the face is some what ‘destroyed’ the person shouting, holding his head, with wide open eyes and mouth, gives one the impression of fear; as if ‘he’ was facing something that scared him. The figure itself is very thin , the minimal appearance of clothing and the skinny face, may be thought to be either an old woman or man, facing the time of death.
One of the buildings which has been placed under the title of Expressionist Architecture, is Hans Poelzig’s exhibition space and water tower building. This extraordinary design of its time, is located in the city of Poznan, in Poland and was completed in 1991. Throughout the building it is difficult to find any straight lines; curves and flowing shapes are what make up the Einstein Tower. It looks more like a poetic and romantic sculpture than a building for such a specific use. The steps leading up to the entrance, through the ‘body’ of the building with its dome like roof, reminds one of a naturally occurring organism such as a plant or an undersea creature.
In France, during the period 1907 to 1914, the leaders Picasso and Braque developed the movement of Cubism, which largely differs from Expressionism. Analytical Cubism, focused on two-dimensional, flat paintings which would picture an object by breaking it down into shapes. Lines, geometric forms and bright colours were a necessary characteristic. Synthetic Cubism derived from the method of Collage, synthesising, combining painting, incorporating pictures from magazine advertisements, cuttings and clippings of different materials to generate a complete piece of artwork.
As previously mentioned, Cubism was strongly associated with two-dimensional portraying. This motif in art also had an influence on architecture. Well analysed and synthesized architectural spaces, would remain in the usual two dimensions; architectural representations were based on the artistic era of the time. Closely related to Cubism is Abstract Art. Artwork now is not a matter of copying what appeared in front of one’s eyes, but something that one may call a piece of decoration. What the artist feel’s becomes art. During the First World War, a group of young artists, named Dada, made their presence. They found a way to express their protest to the war, through their abstract painting.
Picasso’s ‘Violin’, appears to be very confusing. By its title, one becomes familiar with what is portrayed. The painting illustrates a ‘destroyed’ musical instrument, broken/cut into pieces. With its curved shapes and brown colours it is easily understood. But what is fascinating about this piece of artwork is the way the artist has shaded each part of the violin, giving it a special significance. Even though the painting is portrayed on a canvas (two – dimensional), the hole picture seems to escape those boundaries, each part appears to stand out from the canvas.
‘Dada for me was a new beginning and a closure. In free Zurich where the newspapers can say what they want, where magazines were founded and poems against the war read out, here where there were no ration-cards and no ‘ersatz’, here we had the possibility of shouting out everything that was filling us fit to burst’. Richard Huelsenbeck.
During 1922 to 1924, when Dada began to lose their influence, Surrealism was introduced. Painters were creating dream like pictures. Within these paintings one fragment would blend and merge into another and depending on the angle in which one viewed the drawing, the picture on the canvas would ‘change’. The same object could have two or more uses within the painting.
Architecture has embraced most art movements and Surrealism was not be left out. As was analyzed in the previous paragraph, painting fragments, which had multiple uses, were one of the principles undertaken in this art style. Architects were incorporating two or more in some cases uses to a building, multiple approaches and embeddings.
Within this surrealist painting of Dali, different elements accommodated a different story; and in some cases may have more than one ‘role’. In the centre of the painting , a female face appears, her eyes are also seashells on the beach, her forehead and nose form a fruit bowl full of pears; on her left hand side there is a dark tunnel with a river, whereas on the left side of the painting, there is mountain with sea waves running down towards the females face. The mountain to the right acts as a dogs head and what seems to be its collar is a bridge; many other such elements are hidden within this painting.
These two multi-storey buildings, appear to be dancing. The male (cylindrically shaped building on the right), Fred, is standing next to Ginger (female). Fred seems to be reaching out his right arm to his ‘dancing partner’. This concrete structure, relates to the strong nature of a male. On the other hand, Ginger, as a ‘woman’, constructed from glass, appears more fragile, just as a woman can be elegant and delicate.
Advertisements, comic books, magazines, posters, movies and everything else which portrayed some sort of a commercial image came in fashion; art was now called Pop Art. Although many believe that Pop Art was discovered in America, continuing from the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 1930’s, Pop Art was actually first seen in London. Leader and ‘inventor’ of this movement was English painter and Collage artist Richard Hamilton. ‘Often called the intellectual father of Pop Art.’
The Abstract era continues to grow in the United States and in Europe. Op Art, also known as Optical Art is appearing. In the period of the 60’s and the 70’s, vibration and optical illusions created either by monochrome, images or outstandingly bright coloured pictures consisting of basic geometric shapes were this movements principles.
Similarly to optical illusions in Op Art, illusions of such type can be found within the world of architecture; maybe this is not an era called ‘Op Architecture’ but defiantly architects have been inspired from this particular artistic style;
Soon after came minimalism, with Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons and others. Minimalism consisted of simple colours and solid shapes based on geometric forms. Artists would reduce as much of the elements as possible within their work in order for it to appear simple but yet again well worked. Such fragments would be colours, textures and volumes.
Architect Mies van der Rohe, adopted the so well know phrase ‘les is more’, by developing building designs which consisted of open plan layouts, minimal exteriors etc. Minimalism and Architecture is still a movement that continues to grow. Minimalist architecture comprising of simple volumes and clear lines, which sometimes look very similar to solid geometric shapes, is a style of architecture found all around us.
Oil, water colour, charcoal, pen and ink, sculptures and photography are some of the art forms that can be found within the Fine Art department. There are different techniques in which an artist can experiment and develop in order to produce what might be a masterpiece. The French word ‘coller’ meaning glue is the term used do describes one of those methods. The assembly of different materials, which create a new image, is else known as ‘Collage’. One of the first examples that can be related to this motif was found in China and dates from 200 BC, during the invention of paper. It was not until many decades later, in the era of Modern Art and during the Analytical Cubism phase, when Collage was formally introduced. Pablo Picasso and George Braque were the first to bring out the glamour of this technique in the year 1906-07. George Braque was the ‘inventor’ of collage in Modern Art. He mostly applied this technique on his charcoal drawings. One of the earliest most famous collages was Picasso’s ‘Guitar, Sheet Music and Glass’. By autumn 1912 it was apparent that Picasso was very interested in the three-dimensional construction of a collage.
As in Picasso’s ‘Violin’ (pg.4) for one to understand what is portrayed, one should be familiar with the object in question; in this case ‘Guitar, Music sheet and Glass’ constructed in September 1912, follows the same principle. The rear surface of the collage appears to be a section of flowery wall paper; the shapes in which the other fragments of the collage are cut are very simple and one could say effortless; but the way in which they are arranged together gives the observer a clear impression of the subject. On the left hand side of the collage the body of the guitar is formed from a wood-like cut-out. The blue rectangle next to it reminds us or the neck of the guitar, and below this the white circle resembles the sound hole. A black cut out of a semicircle forms the base. To the right are strips of sheet music and below a newspaper cutting and one of Picassos sketches picturing an abstract view of a wine glass, are the fragments which are used in order to compete the ‘Guitar, Music sheet and Glass’ collage.
Tatlin’s assembly on the left is a three-dimensional abstract construction. This creates the feeling of anger or fear and is due largely to the materials chosen. Canvas or board paper are replaced by an old wooden board. Industrial materials replace paper cut-outs which are secured by screws instead of glue. The artist, in this case, is not interested in a clean finish, but creating a rougher and more textured result which all add to its beauty.
The discovery that the very distinction between flat and volumetric was no longer absolute, that through a process of unprecedented spatial semantic complexity, something deeply unsettling was happening to art.?
Picasso started to experiment with his papier coller’s adding other materials which had a special significance. Cardboard, wood, metal and other textiles were incorporated within his Cubist artworks which were soon characterized as surrealist; In the years to come, several more artists, such as, Vladimir Tatlin, Varvara Stepanova and Alexandr Rodchenko, were producing collages. Newspapers, advertisement strips, magazine parts, photographs were some of the materials used.
During the First World War, a young group of artists known as Dada were introduced, and soon became very popular. Dada attempted, in their own artistic way, to protest against what was happening to the world around them. The Dada ‘movement’ was controversial at the time. They introduced a new art form, the art of expressing, in a more literal way, their thoughts about the ‘disaster’ of the Great War. Dada meaning Hobby – Horse in French, consisted of six members. Hugo Ball, his lover Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Hans Richter, Marcel Janco and Hans Arp. The group were based in Switzerland and the Dada era was born in 1916 in the city of Zurich.
Dadaism did not only produce drawings or paintings; it was an era where all visual and intellectual arts were combined together. They used drawings, paintings, sculptures and poetry. It combined artistic, philosophical, music and political aspects. Hugo Ball would take poems apart and place the words in a random sequence. This ‘recycling words’ technique and later on the photomontages and collages produced by the Dada group, would make one think that they were not so much inventors but recyclers;
On the other hand another member of the group, Hans Arp was concentrating on the visual representation of their protest. Through collages and reliefs he was expressing the need of change. Within those collages, elements of wood, screws and paper can be found. The construction of those art works, were based on the ‘law of change’ as Arp would say. Coming back to the motif of three-dimensional collages – reliefs (page 8, Picasso), the Dada reliefs made this motif obvious. The shape in which the elements of the reliefs were cut was well thought, planned and processed. Sketched beforehand and placed exactly in order to complete the artwork. Usually curved and orientated in a ‘natural like’ way would be remeniscent of organic cultures and the era of Impressionism.
‘We do not wish to imitate nature; we do not wish t reproduce. We want to produce. We want to produce the way a plant produces its fruit, not depict. We want to produce directly, not indirectly. Since there is not a trace of abstraction in this art we call it concrete art.’
First collages created by Hans Arp were very minimal and simple. One could say that little effort had gone into creating them.
Dada’s reliefs are some what different to what one has seen through the history of collage. Shapes cut out from wood in natural forms are stuck one on top of the other. This technique could remind one of the three-dimensional construction of collages during the period of 1912-14 (pg.8). But in the reliefs on the left, an abstract assembly consisting of organic shaped, wooden fragments , painted in pastel colours, give the impression of a playful scene. Maybe one from the deep oceans or a field covered with flowers;
Moving away form the notion of three-dimensional construction, Dada’s work also consists of papier colle’s; ‘Rectangles arranged according to the Laws of Change’, is one of dada’s paper collages; squares and rectangles in two shades of blue are cut and randomly placed on the rear (blue) surface of the collage. No right angles appear anywhere in this piece of artwork, nor in the position in which the paper fragments are placed on the board, nor in the way the elements are cut.
Arp was always pleased to work and create art with other artists. In 1916 Arp invented the ‘Fatagaga’ pictures. Fatagaga was a word which derived from the first syllables of the sentence: Fabrication de Tableaux garantis gazometriques, meaning: production of guaranteed gasometric pictures. Based on this new term, Arp and other artists created the i-drawings. The group continued to express their compassion to the sufferings of the public, but this time their collages, or as they called them, photomontages, were not so ‘simple’ looking. Dada brought photographs in the papier colle’s, which pictured human bodies with different heads or objects placed on their forehead in combination with written illustrations, suggesting in their way the political and social exasperation towards the world.
With Analytical Cubism, art opened its doors to papier colle, the construction and design of collages. Dada introduced that a collage did not only have to consist of paper and glue, but it could incorporate other materials as well, (wood, photographs, paint etc).
Max Ernst said: I had to admit that in most of my collages there was no use for glue; that I am not responsible for the term collage;
As the 1920’s entered Dada collages formed a big change; collages where now consisting if geometric shapes, well processed and cut. The ‘i-picture’ on the left, is one of Arp’s i-drawings. Rectangles and squares with sharp lines and right angles are places adjacent one to the other; in contrary to the ‘Rectangles arranged according to the Laws of Change’ (pg.11), this collage looks more like a collage an architect would create; well planned and placed fragments in basic colours. It’s one of the first times where one sees the illustrations of text within Dada pa co. The letter ‘i’ is placed in the centre of the collage catching ones attention, from the first glance.
‘The Art Critic’ (image on the left), moves away from the graphic collages that Dada were concentrating on until the 1920’s. The illustrated bright orange rear surface of the collage, gives a new feeling to the whole picture; human forms are introduced with satiric elements. The man body is a different collage fragment to the ‘out of scale’ head; facial characteristics are exaggerated by the added sketches/doodles representing eyes, lips teeth etc. Part of a shoe on the forehead of the ‘Frankenstein’s man and a large pen in his right hand, weapon like, add to the style of the collage. On the right a male figure appears through the newspaper cutting on a black and white photograph. A woman looks stunned by the large figure in the centre of the collage. Additional fragments taken from magazines are added to the whole creating a troublesome image.
Even though collages and photomontages started to disappear during the surrealist era in Art, there are a few examples for such stylistic papier colles. Max Ernst was one of the most popular surrealist painters in the 1920’s. Within his works, numerous collages can be found. By cutting and reorganising sentimental illustrations, surreal collages would make their appearance. Other artists, such as Dali were strongly connected with surrealist collages Dali would play with the observer. He did this in the way in which the fragment of his collages where placed together, he would confuse the observer about what was being viewed, where as what was actually being portrayed was different to what the eye would see.
Dali’s playful scene of brightly coloured elements consists of both painting and collage; this technique has been seen before with Picasso’s ‘Guitar, Music Sheet and Glass’ collage (pg. ). The rear surface of the ‘Accommodations of Desire’ collage, is painted; this would be separate to the lion heads which are glued on. The collage consists of nine incomplete lions heads and is violent in its suggestions. In the top centre of the collage a sexual scene is suggested, with a naked women and a man standing close to her.
Photomontage did not make its official appearance till the First World War and the Dada movement, but there are many examples in the past, dating back as far as the Victorian era to prove that this technique was seen before. German word ‘Montage’ means ‘fitting’, and explains exactly what a photomontage is, the ‘fitting’ of multiple pictures/photographs together and creating a new image. Million Fox Talbot was one of the people associated with the invention of photography. He would experimented with his photographs, as any individual would when trying to invite something now, such as photography; by placing tree leafs of the photographic plates, it would remind of some sort of photomontage; In those days, without the invention of photographic paper, the photographic plates were reused and must have be well cleaned in order for the next photograph to be taken. By not cleaning the plates whilst taking a new photo, the result would look as if one image had been placed on the other. In this way, photomontage was beginning to appear. In this way they would experiment with multiple plates and effects. During the Victorian period, several examples of such experiments can be found. One of the most striking of its time, were the postcards portraying a human body with a different head.
With the revival of Pop Art collages and photomontages were brought back to file. ‘Pop Art Daddy’, Richard Hamilton was strongly associated with those art motifs. A collage made from photographs or photograph parts is called a photomontage. At the time, for many people Pop Art was difficult era to be understood. The images portrayed in the Pop Art movement were generally seen in other context and individuals had problems embracing the ‘new’ art form.
In 1957 Hamilton defined Pop art as: ‘Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low cost, Mass production, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous and Big business’.
But Richard Hamilton found different ways in which he engaged the public with his art. His influence of Abstract Art was obvious in his works, which mostly consisted of collages and photomontages. The images used in order for him to produce a collage would have often been seen in other artistic works in the past; but Hamilton would manipulate them and make look unique. One of the first examples in Pop Art and Hamilton’s most famous collage / photomontage is ‘Just what makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing’.
In August 1956, an art exhibition opened it’s doors to the public. The exhibition hearing after the name ‘This is tomorrow’, took place in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, in London. The aim of this exhibit was o present new ideas to the public rather to a certain group of people. These ‘new ideas’ exhibited would accommodate new, exiting and ‘futuristic’ aspects which were introduced in the everyday life of an individual. For example aspects of Cinema, Comic books, Pop music, Science fiction and even the unforgettable, sexy Merlin Monroe were present; The exhibition was a space surrounded with playful imagery, music and even some shocking aspects which would make the public wonder about what ‘Tomorrow’ would bring to their life’s;
Richard Hamilton’s collage ‘Just what makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing’, was created for the purposes of advertising posters and catalogue for the exhibition. Even though the artwork, consisting if collage and photomontage was only creating for commercial use, it was one of which made the British Artist famous;
As mentioned in the side text, Richard Hamilton would ‘recycle’ work of others, or imagery seen elsewhere; this is quite predictable, as collage can be alternatively described as a way of ‘recycling’ imagery, text and photographs from other sources; but in this particular example of the collage pictured above [‘Just what makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing’ ], the title itself is reused; the original quat derives from an advert starting: ” just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? Open planning of course – and a bold use of colour.” all components of the collage are taken from popular 1960’s adverts;
The rear surface of the collage had been originally seen in the advert for Armstrong floors company floor surface types; the particular image was found in the ‘Ladies Home Journal’. Secondly, the young semi naked male, pictured holding a tennis racket, is the famous Irwin ‘Zabo’ Koszewski, body builder. [photograph taken from Tomorrow’s Man magazine]. The woman sitting on the sofa at the rear right side of the artwork is believed to be artist Jo Bear. Opposite, on the left side, the element of the staircase accommodating a young female cleaner, was taken from the advertisement of the new, at the time, ‘Constellation’ model of a hover. The painting / picture, which is hanging on the rear wall if the interior pictured in the collage, ‘Young Romance’, is part of an advert in ‘Young Love’. Below there is a television; produced be the Stromberg – Carson company (1955). But not all the element accommodated within this collage are exactly ‘cut and pasted’ in order to create this ‘Pop’ image; Richard Hamilton has modified certain parts, which without any hesitation contain a ‘secrete’ meaning within them; in order to make this more clear, the ‘rug’, behind the young bodybuilder is actually a blown up image of the Whitley Bay Beach crowed; lastly on the ceiling of the interior, the image of the earth emerges; most probably this photograph is taken from the ‘Life Magazine’ [September 1955 edition].
There may be different meanings hiding in this collage. But my personal view ion this artwork, is based on the promotion of the ‘perfect home and family’. During the period of the 1960’s all was based on the visual aspects of life, new elements in the entertainment field of the public culture were been modified and everything was surrounding the ‘new’ – ‘popular’ and ‘exiting’; cinema, magazines with shocking playful and colourful imagery were incorporated in peoples daily routines;
Based on the collage ‘Just what makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing’ , I believe that the artist is trying to portray the ‘Perfect couple’. A young , hansom, muscular male, with a sexy, beautiful woman by his side; elements of taking care if the physical body condition of both parties are suggested through the element of the tennis racket;
Now there is the opportunity for the female to be the lady of the house; economical changes are suggested; now cleaners can be hired to keep the house in it’s perfect / clean condition and women can start taking care of themselves.
Photographs were a major inspiration for Hamilton works; elements of advertising, film, photography, fashion, music, style, mass media, TV etc were always precent in his work. During the 60’s R.Hamilton’s works took on a more domestic feel. He was portraying interior spaces which were very similar to the scene of a film set. Some would characterise his work ironic, but for Hamilton that was not the case. By applying in his work imagery seen in the wider public and mass media environment, he addressed a problem which the ‘outside’ world was facing and at the same time he would picture its possible solution.
Hamilton explained in 1968: ‘One wasn’t just concerned with a car and the idea of speed but [with] the way it was presented o us in the mass media… presenting a glamorous object by all the devices that glamorous advertising can add’. The Pop paintings are anthologies of the mechanics of visualisation.
Maybe it is not only about the entrainment and the economical but also about the political changes taking place at the time; women are becoming more important and have a say in different important matters; every home ‘should’ accommodate the newest designs of furniture and electrical facilities; (TV, Hoover, Tape recorder)
The ‘perfect home’ sheltering the ‘perfect couple’ The images of the earth on the ceiling of the interior may suggest that even in such a house, with all it’s fashionable and great conditions, it is actually what everyone feels within it; our house is our world;
American, visual artist, Christian Marclay, concentrates on exploring the connections that may exist between music, sound and photography. He transforms sound into visual and physical form; this is represented by video, photography, sculpture etc.
One of Christian Marclay’s projects was the Body Mix Series (1991). The project consisted of several album covers, which were collaged in such a way, in which a whole new image immerged through the ‘stitched together’ pictures. One of those Frankenstein images, named ‘Doorsiana’, consisted of six different covers, one of which was the face of Jim Morrison and Diana Ross’s left arm, in connection with several other albums.
Seliger: It seems that from the start your work has always had a lot to do with collage, both in performance and with the objects.
Marclay: Yes. I’ve always used found objects, images and sounds, and collaged them together, and tried to create something new and different with what was available. To be totally original and start from scratch always seemed futile. I was more interested in taking something that existed and was part of my surroundings, to cut it up, twist it, turn it into something different; appropriating it and making it mine through manipulations and juxtapositions.
Collage as analysed previously, is a technique used in Fine Art by numerous artists in all movements throughout Modern Art. As nearly all artistic styles and techniques had an impact in Architecture, so did collage; many great architects have incorporated collages in their designs and more commonly in the way of presenting their works.
One could say that even mosaic is a technique based on the form of collage; random tiles blocks and other hard materials, cut – broken into different shapes, reorganized and combined in such a was that a new image is created. Usually this ‘pallet of colour’ , of what it seems, pictures a particular image. Swimming pools for example are like a collage; Derigners creat happy, sunny, playful pictures in order to decoraite the simple idea of a ‘bowl’ of water; making the howl atmpsphere of the environment around it seem shinny and summery;
Works of Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi can also be related to collage; his famous design of Park Guell (1900 to 1914), now converted into a Municipal garden, consists of thousand tile pieces, reminding one of a collage. Maybe not a collage which when completed resembles a particular image, but one more abstract and playful.
Park Guell, one of the most playful and ‘fun’ sceneries for one to experience; tiles in different sizes and shapes are placed carefully together. In some areas giving a colourful abstract picture, and in others competing a picture. This mosaic technique of Antoni Gaudi’s has covered seating structures and has introduced certain sculptures within the park. Dragon creatures, but t=his time not at all scary, but very friendly consist of all colours, sizes and shapes of tile pieces. A one to one three – dimensional construction of a collage.
One of the first ‘famous’ collage / montage to picture a city was created by Dutch artist Paul Citroen. P. Citroen was strongly connected with the art techniques of collage and photomontage. His most famous art work was the one hearing after the name, ‘Metropolis’, a futuristic city collage created in 1923.
Paul Citroen’s first attempts of City collages began in 1919. all consisted of strips, cuts of photographs, postcards and any other imagery picturing buildings, houses, and any other architectural elements, such as windows, staircases, bridges etc.
Metropolis, is a good example describing the above principles. Numerous buildings stitched together and placed on a board. Some in two dimensional view / on face, and others on perspective / birds eye view; The collage appears a bit confusing and ‘fuzzy’ ; it is difficult for one to distinguish one building or element from the other.
It portrays with a dramatic way the city; the panic of what man has created; the artist in this case is not trying to create a harmonious new image through old images, but in the contrary; this collage is just a collection of photographs or any other picture which portrays architectural elements; it seems as if all the cut-outs are placed in a random order, as if there is no thought behind it. Certainly this is not the case. Anyhow, this collage is one of its kind; a collection of architecture;
‘Metropolis – Cityscape Montage #1’ by Boris Bilinsky, is believed to firstly seen in ‘Cine – Miroir’ newspaper in 1927, just before the release of the film Metropolis;
Postcards, photographs and imagery taken from the scenes of the movie helped the artist create such an astonishing image of the time; it appears to be a city, but one that now looks more familiar to the eyes of a person living in the 21st century; but for then it could only be categorized and characterized as ‘futuristic’; large blocks, concrete plats stacked one on top of the other, millions of windows and minimal portrays of people, suggest the cold city boundaries; a mountain of concrete of what it looks like is the city; people hidden within industrial materials, just because this is what the believe is the future; a man mad future;
The sense of perspective is incorporated within this poster and delivers exactly what a city is; just chaos!
It appears that particular parts of the collage are ‘pasted’ more than once; for example on the right corner of the poster there is building which consists of strong geometric shapes, creating splits an corners; above it the same section is pictured; but then again, this may happen to all collages. As soon as one focuses on the detail of the artwork more elements seem to immerge from the page. A similar technique happens with the arches in the centre of the poster. One arch above the other; or with the ‘bridges in the top half of the picture; ‘Copy – Paste’ is everywhere in the ‘Metropolis – Cityscape Montage #1’, but the poster does seem to loose the effect it has when you first come across it;
Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene, formed a architectural practice in 1970, which heard after the name of Archigram. Their works took place mostly on paper. Their designs were focusing on futuristic ideologies of Architecture. For example David Greene’s, ‘Living pod’ was introducing the idea that a person’s house must be carries with him at all times; by producing a structure that the ‘house pod’ could plug in anywhere it went; in order for it to continue to work sufficiently according to the needs of its owner. Photomontage and collage where major techniques used by Archigram to present their designs and innovative ideas. By taking parts of different photographs and adding new high-tech machinery and futuristic structures, they found themselves surrounded by workings that did not look anymore like architectural proposals but pure extraordinary artistic imagery. In order to separate themselves and their wok from the Modern Architectural, blank and white presentations which where appearing in other practices, Archigram found ways in which their collages became more fun and eye catching; images of young ‘sexy’ women would always be a present decorative motif.
Archigram believed that collage was not only an art technique which they incorporated in their designs in order to present and communicate the proposals, for Archigram collage was a method; a discipline used in order for them to understand and pass on the sense and meaning of their futuristic designs.
Through this, they would break down the reality of the design, bringing in elements found in construction sites, picturing in the same collage images from different perspective views; some elements appear to be out of scale and people are brought in; happy, beautiful and ‘large’, they somehow capture all the attention of one viewing the collage.
Pipes, pods and plug – in structures hiding behind photographs of ‘normal – everyday’ buildings, text and sketches are all present elements in Ron Herron ‘s (Archigram member) collage above.
Even though in this collage the architecture of the future is portrayed, one can not help but be distracted by the young face of the female in the left of the image; it is not only the way she is placed in reference to the rest of the collage, it is the scale and the facial expression she is captured in; Secondly the young body imply a sort of movement to the howl picture is a key element of the collage;
Beautiful male and female figures dressed in expensive evening clothing, and the illustration of the word ‘Glamour’ was soon seen in further Archigram collages. As any other designer, architect and artist, the Archigram team took on political and social changes on board through their photomontages and extraordinary collages.
American artist and architect, James Wines, is strongly connected with environmental architectural designs. On of the projects developed in his practice, SITE (Sculpture in the Environment), was ‘Highrise of Homes’ in 1980. The project was never constructed, even though the teams goal was for it to be built; the design consisted of a fifteen to twenty levels of U-shaped structural frame, which accommodated on each floor several single family houses, with their gardens, as they normally exist in local streets in reality. Additionally the structure would have the facility to accommodate shops and parking. The hole proposed structure looks similar to a collage; cutting and pasting houses, vegetation, shops, parking, cars etc.
As mentioned, pictures / photographs of women were captured in Archigram collages; people were very rarely seen to be working or doing any other ‘job’ when pictured in an Archigram collage. The way they always illustrated and presented their work, would in all respect seem like a dream, something that could never actually be constructed. For example in the image on the left, he whole architectural structure, in the rear of the collage, looks as if it hanging from large balloons; at the bottom of the collage there is an apparent contrast made in respect to the figures presented in this image. On the left, people wearing sunglasses and suits are standing next to working class citizens; Through this pictorial contrast, a reference to the political and economical state of the time could be said that is made.
The black background makes the bright coloured elements of the collage stand out and creates an atmosphere of excitement and ‘glamour’;
American Architect and Urban Planner, Richard Meier, well known for his rationalist white buildings, used the technique of collage throughout his project workings and designs; they usually record the relationship between different spaces and the impact they have one on the other. These collages are not focusing on the presentation or the representation of a certain idea or concept; they are architectural workings, which have been developed with a lot of thought and through a long period of time.
During the exhibition ‘thinking the unthinkable house’, 1996, Ben Nicholson was one of the persons exhibiting some of his work in the Renaissance Society Gallery, University of Chicago campus. Tension was raised in respect to the title given to B. Nicholson during this process. The public was left to believe that Nicholson was no other but an Architect, but this was not the case;
He is very much interested in the field of architecture and his work always resembles the notion of architectural elements, through his Drawings, collages, computer images and other design disciplines;
But something Nicholson does or does not do, matters profoundly for both architects and architecture. […] He is nor in or out of architecture;
Collage is a way of thinking; it is not about what Ben Nicholson is annotating thought the layers of paper glued together, but about the process that comes with it. It is not a matter of designing furniture, items, objects or buildings; it is about the actual method and procedure which in certain cases may even take whole days; For example this cupboard on the right, was based on the shapes and the forms created when braked down and programmed again.
Collage and photomontage are still present in the architectural era of today. Usually seen in design presentations of the architectural profession. A client may hire an architect to design a building or an extension, but it is not always easy for the client himself to get familiar with the proposed scheme presented by the architectural team. In this case the architect must find different ways in which the design will be totally understood by the client. Scale modes and three-dimensional renderings of the proposal are always present, but still that may not be enough for an architecturally unfamiliar client; by placing the proposed design of the building in a photo of the existing/future surroundings, adding trees and people , provides the client with a clear idea of how the building fits within its surrounding environment.
In a similar way, architecture students are always asked to produce photorealistic renderings of their design. In this case the project itself may consist of an imaginary brief and proposal, but yet the students must be able to communicate their ideas in all the different ways.
But collage and photomontage do not stop there; universities which concentrate in educating students around the field of art, this may be fine art, graphic design, interior design and architecture always try to incorporate this techniques in their learning outcomes, through the introduction of certain projects.
During the academic year 2006-2007, London Metropolitan University allocated a ‘collage / photomontage’ project for the third year architecture students. The brief was for each student to ‘design’ a route’ (circulation route) and present it according to their personal experience when entering and following a particular path within the building. The building suggested to be used for this exercise was the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The route starting from the main staircase (foyer) of the museum leading up to the RIBA drawing collection quarter, was the choice of Cypriot student Andreas Andreou.
The criteria of this project was for each student to be able to illustrate and communicate in depth their experience of the actual physical space, identifying the different textures, materials and atmosphere that the ‘space’ consisted of. In order for this outcome to be met, a Sectional Elevation constructed thought the technique of collage / photomontage was needed. Measurements, orthographic sections, elevations and accurate drawings in large scales (e.g. 1:5), were present disciplines for this project to be accomplished.
The end result was a montage of multiple materials, stitched together in such a way in order to give the artistic impression of the space experienced in the V+A Museum. The elements of photographs picturing the texture of the different surfaces were blown up, but still the atmosphere of the environment portrayed was well delivered through this exercise;
Collage has proven its place in Art and Architecture. In the field of architecture it’s mostly used as a tool in order to visually place a proposed design to its ‘future’ environment, or to visualise the exterior and interior elements of a building. This process hears after the term ‘renderings’ or ‘photomontages’. But a question can be asked in respect to the exterior arrangement of a building. Could one ‘collage’ parts of a building in order to come up with a new design; Using existing buildings as precedents, cutting and collage-ing parts them in such a way for the end result to work as a ‘new’ whole; having its own function and ‘life’.
As we all well know, buildings, as everything else around us, furniture, objects, machinery etc, consist of shapes. An easy example in order to understand this idea, is a table; an object familiar to all; Rectangles, squares, sometimes even circles or curves are the shapes which if ‘placed’ them together produce a table. Even as a child one would draw a house using different shapes; a square would be used for the ‘house body’, a triangle for its roof and rectangles for the chimney, windows and door.
Geometric shapes are all around us, we touch them, see them, we live in them; Architects use those simple forms in order to analyse, plan and develop a conceptual idea into a realistic design. By collage-ing various parts of buildings together, one could come up with a new ‘fantasy’ building. In a similar way to Christian Marclay’s, ‘Doorsiana’ collage work (pg.18). The intention of gathering all the information on collage (history, artists, techniques), is to produce an architectural – elevation – collage of a building; stitching different building parts together and producing a new design from existing structure characteristics.
Architecture; a Jigsaw Puzzle Interlocking Layers of Space.
Architects further the idea that they alone make buildings and spaces that deserve the tile architecture. Architects are caught in a vicious circle; in order to defend their idea of architecture they often adopt practices, forms and materials already identified with the work of architects, and thus learn little from other disciples. […] in addition to buildings, drawings and texts have for many years been considered important architectural objects. [..] it is whatever architecture is made of, whether words, bricks, blood cells, sounds or pixels.
For every professional and non professional who is associated with the visual design industry (art, design, architecture etc), one of the most important tools is drawing.
Drawing is primarily a way of using your eyes, to observe and to discover. To draw is to learn to see, to see things and people being born, develop, flourish and die. It is necessary to draw in order to store in our mind what has been seen and to capture it in the memory for life.
Regarding architecture, drawing is essential; the architect must be able to analyse his ideas through drawing during the entire design procedure up till the completion of a project.
Drawing is a language; From an idea, a concept is developed, analysed through sketches which explore the possibilities of it becoming a proposal. Sketching is a way of exploring various ideas which are in ones mind. This freehand technique transmits and idea through a picture which in any other case would be difficult to explain with words, either orally or written. A drawing has the ‘magic’ ability to carry big amounts of information, without confusing the observer. Of course as any other drawing type, there are many sketching techniques and personal style is always incorporated in this experiment.
At all stages an architect works with various methods, drawing methods till he reaches a point where the design can be worked further with the help of orthographic / technical drawings.
Orthographic Projection (orthographic drawings) is a two-dimensional drawing method, which is mostly used for the purpose of giving out as much information for the proposal as possible.
They consist of exterior side views of the design, Elevations; horizontal cross sections, Plans; and vertical cross sections, Sections. The main purpose of these representations is to technically analyse the physical and conceptual aspects of the project. Orthographic drawings are always projected in scale and convey specific dimensions. They explain the special arrangements of the proposal, the circulation around and within the building, lighting effects and other information required. They do not only fulfil the purpose of understanding the design of the building but also they present technical information for the construction of the design.