Expressionism is when we stop abiding by rationality and just go by gut, we mess with the normal. It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.


An example of expressionism in art is the work of Edvard Munch:


This painting called scream is possibly the most famous example of expressionism, the colours all merge together and further express the scream that Munch is trying to portray. The brush strokes reveal the state of mind that is to be shown, agitated.

German expressionists are another example of expressionism:

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German expressionism looks like woodcuts, it has an African aesthetic.

Abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock take the ‘from your gut’ extremely literally, these are a few examples of his work:

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As you can see it is very difficult to pick out exactly what Pollock is trying to suggest in these paintings or even what the paintings are of. Despite this I really like the look of paintings like this because I think they look modern and interesting although I do think even I could create something similar to these.


An example of expressionist cinema is german expressionist, here the majority of the films are black and white, they use strange warped background in order to make the films seem surreal. At the time of german expressionism Germany had just come out of World War One, they felt disillusioned by the world around them , hence effecting the warped effect on the films. A lot of the authority figures in these films were villains as many Germans felt that they couldn’t trust the government. There was even the persecution shown to minority religious groups that was shown throughout some of the films. German expressionist films highlight many of the real issues occurring at the time whilst using an element of fantasy which allowed the director freedom to highlight the issues they felt were most important at that time.

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Many expressionist authors use the ‘Stream of Consciousness’ approach, where by they write down all the thoughts and feelings that cross their minds, this type of literature is associated with drug fuelled hippies. Examples of these are beat poets, at the end of World War Two people began to question mainstream politics and culture, they wanted to defy conventional writing, social conformity and literary tradition, in order to achieve a higher level of consciousness they used hallucinogenic drugs, they also meditated and followed Eastern religion. Possibly the best way to sum up the Beat movement was the book by Allen Ginsberg called ‘Howl and other poems’.


I think most of us have heard of expressive dance even if it was just someone making an excuse for their unorthodox set of moves, expressive dance is freestyle, improvisation often it looks like the dancer is simply doing what they feel compelled to do inside.



At the Bauhaus they took a slightly different view of expressive dance and used the colour and sound theory they had learnt from a tutor, they put together the certain sounds, shapes and colours that the majority of people thought went well together and from this they produced the Triadic Ballet. Below is a film of the Triadic Ballet:


As you can imagine it is difficult to make an expressionist building as expressionism is all about being impulsive and how can you be impulsive with something that takes years to create…you end up tweaking it instead of going with your gut. The courbusier chapel attempts expressionism, here you can see it is a free flowing building with lots of curves, the windows are oddly placed almost as if  it was spontaneous and not quite thought through.



Soviet architecture also tended to be quite expressive, there is no clear tradition between each building, they all seem to have completely different themes to them:

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Expressionist photography nowadays tends to be more about how you mess with the photograph after it’s been taken, rather than taking a photo that is expressive. Photographers can do this by changing the negatives or by Photoshopping an image.

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Rankin carried out a project called ‘destroy’ it was an expressive project in which he teamed up with a children’s music charity, as it was the charities 10th birthday Ranking decided to get in touch with 70 musicians and asked them to destroy photos of themselves that had been taken by an iconic photographer, here are some of the outcomes:

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Graphic Design

Expressionism in graphic design is more about showing emotions or reactions to a subject of event through visual communication. An example of this is the Sex Pistols, they expressed their views on anarchy through defacing a picture of the queen :



Aesthetic Theory

So how do we judge whether what we’re doing is any good?

Well one idea is intentionalism, does the object do what the maker wanted it to do. This type of rating is used in the Chelsea Flower Show, the garden designer submits the garden and with it a set of rulers for it to me marker by, they chose the areas that they want to marked on by deciding what the garden is supposed to show. Is the garden doing what it’s supposed to do?

So we’ve established that to design is to communicate a message and that of course we want what we design to communicate the idea we have clearly, well there is a international event each year where each country creates a pavilion, a pavilion is basically a structure that doesn’t really have any other purpose than to look good. The 2013 British Pavilion was designed by a man called Thomas Heatherwick, he broke down all the barriers of design by producing and original design something that no one could have ever thought of:



To create this the were thousands of glass rods filled with seeds, this was like nothing anyone had seen before so it achieved 1st place.

Another Pavilion is the Serpentine Pavilion, this is situated in a park in London, every summer a new pavilion is built by a famous designer. Here are examples of the Pavilions that have been created over the past few years:

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All the designs that I have shown on this post are all things that needed funding, in order for the people to secure funding the committee they want funding from has to like it. The best way to do this is by being very specific with your brief, as with the Chelsea Flower Show, it is essential to decide exactly what you want to communicate to the people. As Mark said, “The tighter the brief the more likely you are to get picked.”

Mark set us a task to design our own Sheffield Pavilion.

I had a few initial ideas, yes the typical steel city, I also had the idea of doing something to do with graffiti.


How to read an object

So let’s look at the key features of each time period.


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Classical vases suggest authority, the design tends to follow Greek or Roman style from the flourishes that are added to the decoration. It’s a very uniform design that follows a symmetrical theme.


Gothic design feels really heavy to look at, it doesn’t embellish items very much and tends to use fairly dark colours of wood. It uses rectangular shapes.

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Baroque art portrays a message, normally using Greek God’s.


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As you can see, these both have a symmetrical pattern, they are also both very elaborate which is one of the key ways to distinguish a rococo object. Rococo is less focused on power and authority, so there is less religious symbolism compared with other eras, such as classical and baroque.

Neo Classical


Both these engraved gems were made by the engravers of Poniatowski, the style of Neo-Classicism is to go back to the Roman and Greek Classical design, the gem on the left is called Dirce dragged along by the Bull, taken from classical literature and is popular in Greek and Roman art, the one of the right is also taken from classical literature and is called Neptune and Amphitrite or Iphimedeia. These gems were made to mimic the Roman and Greek era as accurately as possible, so much so that they even had signatures or the most popular Roman and Greek engravers. Poniatowski then sold them, claiming they were originals, the scandal was only revealed after his death.



Shown above is a fish serving fork and fish serving fork, both designed by George W. Adams, in the 18th century, cutlery was developed as it became less acceptable to eat with your fingers, by the Victorian era dining equipment was very establish and as you can see from the pictures also with a very elaborate design, with little fish engraved into the knife and fork it suggests just how much splendour you would expect in Victorian times, the design of them is very heavy and could be described as gothic.

Art & Crafts

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The art and crafts movement began in Britain in 1880, it was to counteract the disastrous effects of industrialisation by revolutionising design, traditional skills and people’s everyday lives. As you can see from above these objects turned the home into a complete work of art, the image on the left is a piano that has been hidden in what looks like a cupboard, this piano was designed as a cottage piano that was more pleasing to the eye as other pianos at this time were overcomplicated in design. The item on the left is a clock that is painted using oil paints, a traditional technique, to accomplish this flat 2D  design.

Art Nouveau

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When I look at these chairs, if I’m honest, I would never had guessed that they were all part of the same design era, however when I analyse them a little more closely the one similarity between them is that they’re all trying to bring something new to the table…or chair in this case. Art Nouveau is all about consciously trying to create a modern art style so it is unlikely that things in this era will all be carbon copies of each other.

Art Deco

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Art Deco is a style that confuses me a little, when I looked at the fabrics they used, they are really ‘in your face’ they just out at you and attract your attention, however art deco furniture is really reserved compared with other eras, this clock is compact, it gives an industrial feel to it as the added embellishments are straight lines, however the numbers on the clock face have the quirky style of the fabric. Art Deco combines the industrialisation and modernisation of America with the spirit of the time which was (in the 1920s) that everyone could afford high end products and design due to the economic boom which was then followed by the depression of the 1930s. Art Deco was most popular in the 1930s and 40s.



Modernism was less of a style and more a loose collection of ideas, by this I mean that many different styles can be classed as modernist however it is the ideas that categorise them all together, that design and technology could change the way the world worked, a favour of abstract art and a rejection of history. The chair above is called the Wassily chair, this is the chair that transformed the way chairs were made, before this chairs were made from wood and has a sprung cushion to sit on but if you’ve ever sat on one of these you’ll know how uncomfortable they are. The design for this chair was revolutionary, this was the first time that different materials had been used, metal and leather. This chair was designed so that the person sitting in it is in the position that provides maximum comfort. You can see from this example quite how modernist design could change the world.


Postmodernism is extremely controversial, it’s often one of those things you look at and think…really?! That’s art! However it is art like this that often makes us think the most, we have to discover the concept behind the work. Postmodernism gives designers a radical freedom, it can encompass the funny, the unusual or even the completely absurd. An example of a postmodernist artist is Marc Newson, all his work stirs from his passion to want to make things better, an example of one of his projects is redesigning the ford car, he came up with this:


Although some of his ideas for this car may be a little impractical, this car does put your ideal experience first with the swivel chairs, the boot rolls out and the celling of the car even glows a snowy white when the lights are turned on. Newson chose to think about the things that car designers often overlook, maybe because of practicalities or cost.

As you can see just from looking at the design eras I’ve looked at, over the years design has become more and more industrialised, it is no longer exclusively hand crafted, you don’t need to be a crafts person anymore, you can just simply do it on a computer. Design nowadays is less about the skill involved to create something, it’s more about the concept behind that something. Now you can even print 3D models straight from the computer, the first I heard of this was a 3D printed outfit on the catwalk, the body of the model was scanned into the computer and then the outfit printed to fit perfectly. In Surface Asia magazine there’s an article on a 3D printed dress designed by Dita von Tesse, it is possible that the scanning of the body is something that we may be able to do properly on iPhones, at the moment there is an app that allows this however it is no way near developed enough.

However 3D printing has the potential to do so much more, I went on and found a few articles on 3D printing:

Normally 3D printing uses wax and cornflour to print it’s objects.

The most interesting for me had to be that 3D printing could actually cure blindness as it has a helpful application, however I find innovations such as this scary sometimes, when will people stop? Will they try to create human clones using this technology?

There is a company called Thingiverse that actually produces STL files that can be used to print 3D objects…could this be the future of IKEA? No longer will we have to go to IKEA but we can just download the file for the item we want.

Every year they put objects in the V&A archives to represent that year, for 2013 they are going to put in the first 3D printed object, a gun.

What would you put in the V&A for 2013?

Well I would definitely agree on putting the 3D printed gun in the archives, I’m not really sure what else sums up 2013 for me…I’ll have a think!

What is now about? What will this era be called?

Well there are thoughts that this could in fact bioengineering/technology era, there have been many advances in these areas in the last few years so it is possible that this is what this era will be referred to.

How to read a Painting

We looked through the timeline of styles of paintings in class with examples from each time period.


An example of this style is painting’s by Titian, this one is called Bacchus and Ariadne. Renaissance painting use allegories, they tell a story, another feature of these paintings is that they have Greek God’s in them.



In the gothic period we quite often don’t know the names of the artists. They normally tell biblical stories as they were painted for churches. A lot of the paintings tend to look similar in style.


Fortunately we know the name of the artist who created this second painting it was an artist called Matthias Stom. It shows the verses in 1 Samuel 28:7-25.


Baraque paintings are normally really busy and have mythological content, they consist of Greek gods. The paintings want to show power, specifically religious power and splendour. An example of this is Rubens, this painting is called the Judgement of Paris:




This style is largely theatrical, it’s painted with a ‘soft focus’ where everything dissolves away into light. These paintings have a feminine feel to them because of the diffused glow. They often have a slight comical aspect to them, as you can see in this painting by Fragonard; as the woman swings the man can see up her skirt.



Neo Classical

The Neo Classical period began in the 18th Century, it continued the theatrical feel, however the idea behind it was to make art more serious, it was the new classicism. As you can see in this painting names The Oath of the Horatii by Jacques Louis David, they try to realign themselves with the Romans. The concept behind this particular painting is aligning yourself with liberty is worth the sacrifice, of course this was a Roman view point.




Britain didn’t really have an art style, they were influenced by so many different countries from past invasions that they just had a mixture of all these different styles. Therefore they decided to invent their own style, they wanted to write a British style into British history. The style they invented was a scientific, analytical, almost photorealistic image. I looked at art by the Pre Raphelite Brotherhood, he majority of the paintings depict the ‘dream women’ as shown below:



Art Nouveau

This began in the 1900s, with the idea of everything looking ‘alive’. This style could even be described as organic because it depicts nature and growth, everything is curvy, hair is made to look like the stalks of a plant.



Here I looked an artist called Mucha, this is an advert for cigarettes, you can see how the curves of her hair attract your attention because they look alive.

Art Deco

Twenty years on from Art Nouveau came Art Deco, this is based on machine aesthetics, making everything look mechanical as everything has a purpose and a job. This painting is created by an artist called Tamara de Lempicka, here you can see that the woman is made to look like a robot.




This consists of abstract symbols, here the artist completely removes the subject and instead uses blocks of colour. Here’s an example of Suprematism:



A famous example of modernism is the red wedge (shown below), this shows the Bolsheviks (the red arrow) who are defeating their opponents, The White Movement in the Russian Civil War.



Modernist Movements

Impressionism – examples of this include Monet, one of his famous paintings ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ is shown below:


Post Impressionism – an example of this is Vincent van Gogh, shown below is one of his paintings called ‘Starry Night’:



Expressionism – Edvard Munch created the painting below, called ‘The Scream’, it’s a popular example of expressionism:



Decadent Art – this was art shown by Hitler that mocked modernism.

Cubism – an example of this  is Picasso, this one is called ‘Weeping Woman’:



Futurists –  an example of this is Tullio Crali’s painting Bombardamento Aereo:



Fauvism – Andre Derain painted the picture below of Henri Matisse, this is an example of fauvism:



Post Modern

Fluxists – an example of a fluxist is Yoko Ono, fluxists are an international network of artists who blended artistic styles in the 1960s.

YBA’s – Young British artists, examples of these are Tracey Emmet (left) and Damien Hirst (right):



We looked at a photographer called Tom Hunter, he creates a modern interpretation of a traditional fine art painting, he uses the message behind the original painting and puts it in a modern context. Take for example the Hireling Shepard by Holman Hunt:


Although to an untrained eye…such as mine…this appears just to be an interesting countryside scene. However actually this painting has a lot deeper meaning, the Hireling Shepard is in fact a criticism of the church. It symbolises the church hierarchy talking about latin lines, through the man showing the woman a butterfly, when they should be caring for the flock, some of whom are going astray.

Tom Hunter replicates this painting with a modern twist in his photograph:


Here the two people are shown to be ‘hippies’ concerned with saving the planet, however in the background it shows there is a power plant. Suggesting that in fact they have not been paying attention to the environment. As you can see the women is pulling a similar face to the one in the panting and the man, instead of holding a butterfly, is in fact holding a cigarette.

Another example of this is Ophelia, painted by John Everett Millais. It shows a character from Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ singing before she drown in a river in Denmark.


Tom Hunter copies this painting and presents it in a modern setting, calling it ‘The Way Home’:


I really like his photography, although it doesn’t look that impressive at first glance, like all art the power is in the concept behind it, and this definitely has a strong concept. His inspiration comes from headlines, he then tries create the feelings of the headline using the template of a traditional painting. I read the article below in order to find out a little more information about some of his photographs:

Hiroshi Sugamoto uses a vandograph electrostatic machine to create his style of photograph:

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This shows how using interesting machinery creates interesting effects.

Sally Mann is a photographer who takes a lot of photos of young children and shows them pulling mature poses that they have copied from adults. In class we looked at this photo:


As you can see the girl in the centre of the photo is pulling a pose that you would see an adult model doing, she wears jewellery that you would expect to be her mother’s. When you look at this photo it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because in modern day society any photos of children make people think ‘should they be taking a photo like that’. Obviously she isn’t doing anything wrong but the fact that the girl is half naked and that she looks older than she in fact is by the pose and jewellery makes the person looking at it question ‘is that right?’ Photography like this, which is a bit controversial tends to be quite effective because it provokes a lot of questions and makes people think about the concept behind it. The rest of her photography follows a similar style, where by she takes a photo of a young child pulling a pose that would be expected of an adult, this shows how the influence of adults effects children. An example of this is a young girl smoking.



This photo is taken by Annie Liebowitz, I really like her style of photography as she captures interesting poses. This photo is of a boy catching a grenade, although the boy looks to be pulling a strange facial expression, possibly one that people may associate with mental problems, this is in fact just the boy’s reflexes, Annie threw the grenade at the boy and took a photo of his surprised reaction. This provokes the question ‘How true is photography?’ I assumed from this photo that this boy may have some kind of disability but actually he’s just shocked! How often does photography make us think it’s something that it’s not? Even cropping an image can completely change it’s meaning. Therefore the value of an image or photograph is often in the context and purpose.


How to read Popular Culture

Popular Culture is anything that isn’t opera, fine art etc., therefore anything within mainstream culture.

Semiotics is the science of signs, it would say that everything is a sign…the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the house you live in and so on…

If stereotypes didn’t work then why would we use them?

It’s an interesting question and although sometimes we can feel like we never stereotype, society tells us it’s wrong to stereotype and judge a book by its cover and in most cases I would agree however actually we stereotype and don’t even know we’re doing it…Take for example a man in the street, he is wearing a black hat that is abnormally tall, he wear a black body protector with few weapons, he has black tabs on his shoulders that have a number on them…stereotyping tells us that this is most likely a policeman. In graphic design we often use stereotyping when we chose how to address our target market, no not every child will respond to a cartoon, but the majority of children will relate better to a cartoon that to for example a photograph. Therefore as a designer we have to relate to stereotypes some of the time.

Artists such as Greyson Perry address class stereotypes in their work.

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He uses traditional media to show this class stereotypes, often in his tapestries they have a hidden biblical similarity in the way he has designed the image.

Nowadays people by into little bits of the class above them, maybe a Vivian Westwood bag, a Barbour jacket or perhaps a Ralph Lauren t-shirt. We sometimes try to imitate the class above us, buying a fake Barbour jacket or dressing in a similar style to those who live in the mansions in the country without paying the price.

There are very few people who buy haute couture (catwalk clothes) partially because most of the time they are incredibly impractical but mainly because they can’t afford them. The styles are pret aporte, which means gradually filtered down until they are at an affordable price for the various different classes.

Therefore some people would argue that you could tell what class a person was purely from what style they choose to wear and the brand of their clothes.

This stereotyping continues through all sorts of things…let’s take cars

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Colour theory can also come into stereotypes, for example white used to be a really unpopular colour of car, the only vehicles that were white were vans, but over the past two years white has come an extremely stylish colour of car, I’ve seen so many White Mercedes, Audis and VWs. Since these higher class car manufactures adopted the white it has also travelled to lower budge cars, the Fiat 500 is really popular in white. Therefore now if you see a white car you would regard it as quite stylish (provided it’s not a van), this shows that colour can have an effect on how expensive the car appears. Another example to prove this is yellow cars, there are two types of yellow, a light yellow would make a car seem quite cheap and bland (right), however if as bright yellow is used it suggests power and aggression (left)…both characteristics that a more expensive car would want to show.

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This is only rough because obviously it depends on the model and whether it’s new or second hand etc. and to be honest I’m not completely convinced because I mean you could be well off but just not choose to spend your money on a car, instead you decide you prefer to go on holiday a lot or that you’d like to own more than one house or more that one car. But I do think that often when you’re trying to give a certain type of image to a customer you can stereotype as to what you think they would buy into, therefore what is an appropriate design.

Stereotypes come into how a person walks, how they spend their time…all these things can come in important if you want to target a certain market. It could even be smokers…well a stereotype to smokers would be that they have to make the sacrifice of standing outside to smoke, well then why not start a marketing campaign that specifically targets this downside, or the smell of their clothes etc.

How to read a building

Styles go around in circles…

We looked at some of the major style influences in architecture and how we could recognise the style and therefore possibly time they had been built and why the building had been built in that style…what message did they want to portray.


Greek classicism is easy to stop because they used columns specifically 3 different types of column; Doric, Ionic and Corinthian:



As we know from the personality of shapes, rectangles that stand upright show us authority, which is what the Greeks wanted to do throughout their impressive architecture.



The Romans adopted this same idea of the columns, however they added domes and arches. They also used composites between the 3 different types of columns. People made copies of these things because of the values they stood for, the idea of Roman authority and power, Sheffield City Hall is an example of a building that copied this style.





Similar to Roman style, however they added on extra, such as swirls, these buildings were a little more elegant, the furniture that went in these buildings was designed to match the architecture. Baroque added God into the mix, this was done in order to increase the power and authority of the leaders. Shown below is St Mary’s of the health Basilica in Venice.




They often used a design that looked like a clam shell. Rococo is more about pleasure, less intimidating, more use of pastel colours, feminine version of baroque, this was because there was no longer a need to impose power, people knew their place.

It’s illusionary because you can’t tell the difference between what’s painted and what’s plastered.

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Period of Enlightenment, power through rationality and reasoning.

Examples of this are the Altare della Patria, also known as the wedding cake (left), built by Mussolini during the Nazi period and Albert Spear’s work (Hitler’s architect) the Nuremberg Rally was designed so it would ruin beautifully (right).

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Gothic style comes from medieval times, these buildings were designed to be sky scrapes, allowing lots of light in. Structural so could put so much glass in them. This is regarded as Christian architecture. An example of this is  the Houses of Parliament:



The Houses of Parliament were designed as a palace, hence why it has courtyards.

Art Nouveau

This originated in the 1900s, it was thought to be ‘too’ foreign so unfortunately there aren’t many examples of it in Britain, however there are some great examples in Barcelona, the Casa Batllo was remodelled in a art nouveau style:



Art Nouveau wants to make everything look so full of life, it could even be described as organic.

Art Deco

This sort of design was inspired by machine aesthetic. The buildings were a lot taller than ones previously built and so they were stepped in order to allow more light into the street. They looked a bit like pyramids and so the interior was decorated in a similar way to the Egyptians:

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This came about during the 1920/30s, the concept behind it was that for example a house is just a machine to live in. An example of this is the Villa Savoy:




This is when designers started to make the buildings look more like the regions they were in. It stops being modern and starts looking like historical features again. Looking to the past but doing something original.

An example of this is the Dancing House in Prague, this building is modern however it remembers the dance culture of the area: