Avant-garde radical social reforms, the aims of its

Avant-garde in French means
front guard, advance guard, or vanguard. People often use the term in French and
English to refer to people or works that are experimental or novel,
particularly with respect to art, culture and politics. According to its
champions, the avant-garde pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the
norm within the definitions of art, culture or reality. The origin of the
application this French term to art can be fixed at may 17 1863, the opening of
the Salon des Refusés in Paris, organised by painters whose work was rejected
for the annual Paris Salon of officially sanctioned academic art. Salons des
Refusés were held in 1874, 1875 and 1886.

The vanguard, a small troop of
highly skilled soldiers, explores the terrain ahead of a large advancing army
and plots a course for the army to follow. This concept is applied to the work
done by small bands of intellectuals and artists as they open pathways through
new cultural or political terrain for society to follow. Due to implied
meanings of stemming from the military terminology, some people feel the
avant-garde implies elitism, especially when used to describe cultural
movements. The term may also refer to the promotion of radical social reforms,
the aims of its various movements presented in public declarations called
manifestos. Over time, avant-garde became associated with art for art’s sake,
focusing primarily on expanding the frontiers of aesthetic experience, rather
than with wider social reform.

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The first two decades of the
twentieth century were a time of incredible ferment and change that radically
altered all aspects of the human condition. The social, political, cultural and
economic character of life was caught in fluid upheaval. In Europe, monarchy
was replaced by democracy, socialism and communism. Technology and scientific
advances transformed commerce and industry.  Transportation was radically altered by the
coming of the motorcar in 1885 and the airplane in 1903. The motion picture in
1896 and wireless radio transmission in 1895 foretold a new era of human
communications. Beginning in 1908 with the Turkish revolution that restored
constitutional government and Bulgarian declaration of independence, colonized
and subjugated peoples began to wake and demand independence. The laughter during
the first of two global wars, fought with the destructive weapons of technology,
shook the traditions and institutions of Western civilization to their foundations.

Amidst this turbulence, it is
not surprising that visual art and design experienced a series of creative
revolutions that questioned its values, and approaches to organizing space, and
role in society. The traditional objective view of the world was shuttered. Representations
of external appearances did not fulfil the needs and vision of the emerging European
avant-garde. Elemental ideas about colour and form, social protest and the
expression of Freudian theories and deeply personal emotional states occupied
many artists. While some of these modern movements, fauvism for example, had limited
effect of graphic design, others, cubism and futurism, dada and surrealism, de
Stijl, suprematism, constructivism, and expressionism, directly influenced the
graphic language of form and visual communications in this century. The evolution
of twentieth-century graphic design closely relates to modern painting, poetry and
architecture. It might almost be said that a fusion of cubist painting and
futurist poetry spawned twentieth century graphic design.

There are
many movements that were an important influence to the graphic design we know


Starting off,
Constructivism?was an
artistic and architectural movement in Russia from 1914 onward, and a term
often used in modern art today, which dismissed “pure” art in favor
of art used as an instrument for social purposes, namely, the construction of
the socialist system. The term Construction Art was first used as a derisive
term by Kazimir Malevich to describe the work of Alexander Rodchenko in 1917.
Constructivism first appears as a positive term in Naum Gabo’s Realistic
Manifesto of 1920. Kazimir Malevich also worked in the constructivist style,
though he is better known for his earlier suprematism and ran his own competing
group in Vitebsk. The movement was an important influence on new graphic design
techniques championed by El Lissitzky. As a part of the early Soviet youth
movement, the constructivists took an artistic cognitive, material activity and
the whole of spirituality of mankind. The artists tried to create art that would
take the viewer out of the traditional setting and make them an active viewer
of the artwork. Most of the designs were a fusion of art and political
commitment, and reflected the revolutionary times.

Next movement is Futurism;
where the Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting,
sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy. The
Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was the first among them to produce a
manifesto of their artistic philosophy in his Manifesto of Futurism (1909),
first released in Milan and published in the French Paper Le Figaro. Marinetti
summed up the major principles of the Futurists, including a passionate
loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions.
He and others also espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. The car,
the plane, the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because
they represented the technological triumph of man over nature. Futurism
influenced many other twentieth century art movements, including Art Deco,
Constructivism, Surrealism and Dada. Futurism as a coherent and organized
artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in the 1944 with
the death of his leader Marinetti, and Futurism was, like science fiction, in
part overtaken by ‘the future’. Nonetheless the ideals of futurism remain as
significant components of modern Western culture, the emphasis on youth, speed,
power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and

Dada?or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in neutral Zürich,
Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1920. The movement
primarily involved visual arts, literature (poetry, art manifestoes, art
theory), theatre, and graphic design, which concentrated its anti-war politic
through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art
cultural works. According to its proponents, Dada was not art. It was “anti-art”.
Dada sought to fight art with art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was
to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada
ignored aesthetics. If art were to have at least an implicit or latent message,
Dada strove to have no meaning — interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely
on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. It is perhaps
then ironic that Dada became an influential movement in modern art. Dada became
a commentary on order and the carnage they believed it wreaked. Through this
rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to destroy
traditional culture and aesthetics. Art historians have described Dada as
being, in large part, “in reaction to what many of these artists saw as
nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide. “Years
later, Dada artists described the movement as “a phenomenon bursting forth
in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster,
which would lay waste to everything in its path. A systematic work of
destruction and demoralization…In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege.”

Bauhaus?is the common term for the Staatliches Bauhaus, an art and architecture
school in Germany that operated from 1919 to 1933 and briefly in the United
States from 1937-1938 and for the approach to design that it developed and
taught. The most natural meaning for its name (related to the German verb for
“build”) is Architecture House. Bauhaus style became one of the most
influential currents in Modernist architecture. The foundation of the Bauhaus
occurred at a time of crisis and turmoil in Europe as a whole and particularly
in Germany. Its establishment resulted from a confluence of a diverse set of
political, social, educational and artistic shifts in the first two decades of
the twentieth century. Art nouveau had broken the preoccupation with revivalist
historical styles that had characterized the 19th century. In the first decade
of the new century however, the movement was receiving criticism? impelled by
rationalist ideas requiring practical justification for formal effects.
Nonetheless, the movement had opened up a language of abstraction which was to
have a profound importance during the 20th century.

One of the main objectives
of the Bauhaus was to unify art, craft, and technology. The machine was
considered a positive element, and therefore industrial and product design were
important components. Vorkurs (“initial course”) was taught, this is
the modern day Basic Design course that has become one of the key foundational
courses offered in architectural schools across the globe. There was no
teaching of history in the school because everything was supposed to be
designed and created according to first principles rather than by following

De Stijl?also known as neoplasticism, was a Dutch artistic movement, founded in
1917. In a narrower sense, the term De Stijl is used to refer to a body of work
created by a group of Dutch artists, from 1917 to 1931. De Stijl is also the
name of a journal which was published by the painter and critic Theo van
Doesburg, propagating the group’s theories. Next to Van Doesburg, the group’s
principal members were the painters Piet Mondrian and Bart van der Leck, and
the architects Gerrit Rietveld and J.J.P. Oud. The artistic philosophy that
formed a basis for the group’s work is known as neoplasticism the new plastic
art. Proponents of De Stijl sought to express a new utopian ideal of spiritual
harmony and order. They advocated pure abstraction and universality by a
reduction to the essentials of form and color they simplified visual
compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary
colors along with black and white.

The concepts, images, and
methods of visual organization from all these art and design movements, have
provided valuable insights and processes for graphic designers. The innovators
of these movements, who dared cross the borders of unexplored artistic
possibilities, continue to influence artists, designers and illustrators to
this day.