August 16, 2012 | by Liam

Graphic Design History – Modernism

Modernism can be defined as modern thought, character and practice, with the power to create, improve and reshape the environment through experimentation. Modernists were those who broke from traditional design techniques. Early modernists were also described as “avant garde”. The ideas of these early modernists have been very influential in art, design, fashion and architecture although at the time they never gained popular acceptance.


Their ideas stemmed from wide scale changes to modern society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernists favoured symmetry, this can be seen in the work of Picasso where figures were abstracted into geometric planes.


During the early 20th century movements included Fauvism (led by Matisse and Derain), Cubism (pioneered by Pablo Picasso), Expressionism (this movement was inspired by The Scream by Edvard Munch) and Futurism (founded by Marinetti). After World War 2 the USA became the focal point of new artistic movements with the emergence of Abstract Expressionalism, Pop Art, Op Art, Minimal Art and Photorealism to name a few. Modern ideas in art and design started to appear in commercials and logos. Probably the most recognisable logo of this period is that of the London Underground which illustrates the need for clear and memorable visual symbols.


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