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OUGD401 - Study Task 4

Find 5 images of Modernist graphic design and 5 images of postmodernist graphic design.
Write a short critical analysis of each image, which focuses on:

a) Why you consider each image to be Modernist / Postmodernist
b) Whether you think that the image is successful or unsuccesful
c) relate your analysis to the terminology introduced in the session
d) Use at least one quote from the essay by Massimo Vignelli to back up your analysis


'To make it better not only from a functional or mechanical point of view, but to design it to reflect cultural and ethical values, ethical integrity. Integrity of purpose, materials and the manufacturing process... The solutions should reflect the the approach taken.' (Massimo Vignelli. Long live Modernism!)
Modernism is the consequence of its process, it is an attitude that rejects ornamentation and finds beauty in its materials, construction and manufacturing process. And so begins the concept of function over form, In which any design of the modernism movement had a priority to be successful in its message or intentions In comparison to it's visual aesthetics.

Kandinsky's Birthday

This image follows the route of modernism because of it's whole compositional layout and lack of ornamentation. The whole process follows the idea of 'form follows function' by displaying it's message clearly to identify what it is about and it's information alongside it. It uses two block colours (red and black) on stock to clearly to communicate clearly and directly with no ornamentation or adornment to put any expiry date on it's aesthetics. This is a very successful piece of modernist design because it outlines all of the main principles that the modernist movement follow at the same time as making it an effective piece of graphic design.

The most recognisable change in modernist graphic design was definitely seen in typography. This then led to a complete change in the design of layout and composition. One of the most recognisable followers of the new rules/ideas was Jan Tschichold who said the old typography rules viloated the fitness for purpose and design. Above you can see a piece on the new typography rules which is made up of carefully positioned type as well as constructed with two block colours (red and black).

Here we have a piece of swiss design defining the meaning of the word Utopia. Yet again, only two colours on stock have been used, both being red and black to keep the communication of the image at it's peak. The visuals used consist of a halftone image of the swiss alps as well as basic logo visuals above the header. Everything seems stripped down apart from the most important aspects of the image. Ornamentation is a minimum.

Here we have a movie poster in the form of a screen print which has been done in a very modernist style to reflect on the film it is for. The colour scheme yet again reflects the communication, straight, simple and to the point. The layout still consists of creatively placed text in proportion to each other as well as being in helvetica.

This piece of graphic design is clearly modernist because of the overall layout and build of it. The word typography is split up into five sections in the form of a simple layout to allow a paragraph beside each one from a different person. 


The unmade bed arguably tells a story which is what reflects what you see. This is an example of postmodernity where the idea and thought of it means more than the actual creation and finished piece. Most of Tracy Emins' work is based on sex and love and is not normally expressed through modern art.

This certainly conveys all the aspects of a postmodern design. A wide, interesting variety of colours have been used, excessive decoration has been caked onto this piece in every possible area, different typefaces are being used that do not match or follow a particular style.

This piece by Barbara Kreuger is made up of different mediums to create a piece of graphic design which doesn't reflect a modernist piece at all. This combines photo and cut out typography in a realist fashion of the piece smashing.

I brought this example into my list because it provides a range of front covers for issues of "Eye Magazine", each follow a different layout and style but all look vaguely similar. Colours used are all completely different, they don't really communicate or make sense and they dont follow any specific rules.

 This is a great example of experimental type in postmodernism. This is a futurist piece which is based on solely black in on a base colour. The words dont make sense as a sentence but represent different sounds as if there was a war going on in the pages.

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