Spotlight Artist: Modernism - Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Herbert Matter

With the advances of technology Modernism began to break through at the end of the 19th century into the beginning to the 20th century. Western society began to develop new ways to shape human culture and improve the constructed environment.

Modernism covered many creative disciplines from design and art to influencing architecture, music and literature. The power of machines forced artists to strategically re-think their practice, the results were revolutionary and still influences designers to this very day. This new technology provided the opportunity for mass production, and the machine itself became a theme in modernism.

Influential designers of this period range from Walter Gropius from the Bauhaus to the modern architect Le Corbusier, both men were fascinated with all disciplines of design and it reflected greatly in their work.

'Function should always dictate form'

Graphic Design and Typefaces

Modernism especially changed the thinking process for communications, graphic design and typography, the style of design shifted drastically from the prior 19th century approach. Before the concept of Modernism, graphic design and typography was 'overly decorated' and elaborate, every possible inch of a typical poster would be filled with imagery and type.

Designers of the era of Modernism abided to strict, structured grid system with emphasis on negative space, just as important was the use of clean sans-serif type. The idea was to create strong graphics that were against commercialism, greed and cheapness. Typical typefaces used in the Modernism era include Franklin Gothic, Monotype Grotesque, Futura, and Helvetica Neue.



Essential Questions

  • What is the difference between Modernism and the Bauhaus?

  • What are characteristics of Modernism?

  • How is it different from what came right before it?


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