The Beginning of the End of the Modern Style
Joseph Muller-Brockman 1962
citibank wharhol venturi

The International Style
Modern Style

In Switzerland, just after World War II, elements of Futurism, Constructivism and the Bauhaus were distilled into a utopian system of grids, sans serif type and neutrality known as the International Style. The visual system was based upon the belief that the typography should be totally clear allowing no distraction from the content.

In this Modern Style visual order had no links to historical traditions and eschewed any references to culture or geography. Its adaptability to any place and application—architecture, furniture, product and graphic design—allowed it to become a world-wide style, or international style.

Below: Modernism must be applied to everything!-- wine bottle "system" by arch modernist Massimo Vignelli, 1994.



The Corporate Takeover of American Modernism

The stylistic influences of Modernism and The International Style on American graphic designers may have originated in the avant garde artistic movements of European Futurists, the Constructivists or the designers of the Bauhaus, but the social utopianism of those movements never reached the United States.

Ironically this style was used by postwar global capitalists to promote their large multi-national corporations. The abstraction and simplicity of this style worked well as a unifying language of corporate identification across continents.

Reactions to Modernism
Pop Art

A movement that blurred the lines between art, commerce and popular culture. After the large-scale pop art exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1962, Pop Art established itself as a serious, recognized form of art. This exhibition became a turning point for Modernism when a series of critics foresaw the end of modernism and the beginning of the postmodern era.

Although Pop was treated more as entertainment, it had a serious impact on the period. Leading American artists of the Pop Art movement were Andy Warhol (1928-1987) (above), Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)(below).

drowning girl

Post Modern Architecture
Tradition Returns with a twist

The term Postmodernism originated in an international architectural movement that emerged in the 1960's. The movement largely has been a reaction to the orthodoxy, austerity, and formal absolutism of the International Style.

The practitioners of postmodern architecture tended to reemphasize elements of metaphor, symbol, and content in their credos and their work. They share an interest in mass, surface colors, and textures and frequently use unorthodox building materials.

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown realized the first post -modern structure in suburban Philadelphia in 1961. (above) They used the vernacular elements of chimney and arched doorway to signify a traditional home environment.

porta pia2

"In addition to the immediacy of its unique formal and functional qualities, the house is rich in references to historic architecture. The monumental street facade alludes to Michelangelo's Porta Pia in Rome (above) and the back wall of the Nymphaeum at Palladio and Alessandro Vittoria's Villa Barbaro at Maser. On the other hand, the broken pediment recalls the 'duality' of the facade of Luigi Moretti's apartment house on the Via Parioli in Rome." 3

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Image Source
Porta Pia, Wikipedia

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