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Swiss Style Typography History

What is it a good graphic design? Good graphic design or typography is like a taste. Hallmark of the taste rests in sensitivity, from feelings. Every one has a different taste, but it is indispensable for everyone. Graphic design works on an equal basis. We are not born with the right taste as well as there are no born masters of graphic design. All of them have to be every of them self educated. Perfect graphic consist of many elements, as a result of harmony.
This magazine traces the growth of the good graphic design. It depicts not only the growth, but also a designers who formed the style, the people and ideas that influenced them and the following generations who were attracted to Swiss graphic design.
This progressive, radical movement – Swiss style also known as an International style, was originated in Switzerland in the 1920s . This style became famous because of very talented Swiss graphic designers. It emerged from Russian s Constructivism, Germany s De Stijl and Dadaism.
The International Typographic Style, or Swiss Style, refers to the graphic design movement that evolved in Switzerland during the 1950s. Emphasizing clarity of information, the International Style propagated an aesthetic of objective photography in place of illustration; asymmetrical arrangement of elements on a modular grid system; sans-serif typography such as Akzidenz Grotesk; and flush left, ragged right configuration of text. Admired for its simple, clean, factual, and highly structured approach to organizing and presenting information.
The magazine is divided into three parts. Part One shows the origins of the Swiss style, general information about the style, political and social influences. The following part represents the central figures in this movement and the New typography.6 swiss style
In the post war period, modern design began more significant with development of industrialized society. Switzerland bacame an appropriate site for growth of an International style, by means of the country s position in the centre of Europe and its political neutrality.
However, Swiss style started to grow in after the First World War in Europe. Henry van de Velde (1863 1957) was a famous Belgian architect and designer. He was also one of the most successful and important practitioners of the Art Nouveau style. He was known as the first Art Nouveau artist to work in an abstract style and developed the concept of the union of form and function. His idea was to bring art to industry. Van de Velde was the main graphic designer who influenced young Swiss designers. He was one of the founders of the decorative arts school of Weimar. This school was later called the “Bauhaus”. In 1907 he designed the new building of The School of Arts and Crafts and became the first director of this school. Among the teachers there were Russian, Wassily Kandinsky, Swiss Paul Klee and Johannes Itten. Young Swiss graphic designers attracted the school and many of them studied at the Bauhaus. The influence from the Bauhaus was apparent in Max Bill (1908 1994) and Theo Ballmer (1902 1965) works. Max Bill, a painter belonging to the Concrete Art movement in Z rich applied mathematical systems for the organization of space to his graphic design work. Another style which had an effect for the growth of an International style was Constructivism. Constructivism art refers to the optimistic, non-representational relief construction, sculpture, kinetics and painting. The artists did not believe in abstract ideas, rather they tried to link art with concrete and tangible ideas. Constructivist art is committed to complete abstraction with a devotion to modernity, where themes are often geometric, experimental and rarely emotional. El Lissitzky (1890 1941) was the main represetatives of Russian Constructivism. He brought a New Typography and photomontage to Switzerland. Lissitzky attended to the fundamental transformation of perception of literature. From acoustic percept of the past became visible words. Optical character of the new typography was defined in his book from 1923. His work greatly influenced the Swiss style. Not only Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klle who were teachers at Bauhaus, but also L szl Moholo Nagy (1895 1946) had notable position there. He had similar visual conception as Lissitzky. He was oriented in interaction of photography and text. Moholo Nagy perceived photography like an objective representation which can rescue obscurdity of words. He brought typography to question, he defined a new revolutionary idea – typofoto combination of typography and photographic images.It is an objective form of representation based at princip of communication.
Both of these movements influenced a new directions of art and development of graphic design.
A book of modern graphic design Gefesselter Blick (Captured Glance) was published in Stuttgard in 1930. It was Sponzored by the Swiss Werkbund s Advertising Designers Circle. Design from 1920s publications were displayed in the book.. The book was edited by architects Heinz Rasch and Bodo Rasch. They rounded up a work of twenty six artists of the avant garde. Most of them were Germans (Werner Graef), three Swiss (Otto Baumberger, Max Bill and Walter Cylian), two Dutch (Paul Schutema, Piet Zwart), Russian (El Lissitzky), and Czech (Karel Teige). Even though, the Swiss were influenced by many styles, their own style became unique.Gefesselter Blick displays the origins and growth of the Swiss style. 8 swiss style
In the first part of the magazine we introduced the origins and problems of the Swiss style in Graphic design. In this part we will mention the main artists, designers and propagonists of this movement.
Ernst Keller (1931 2006) the father of Swiss design, was a graphic designer, artist and teacher. From 1918 and for four decades onward Keller taught a professional course in graphic design at the Kunstgewerbeschule Z rich (The Zurich School of Design) rejecting the notion of style in favor of design solutions derived from content. Keller was the most important single influence on the development of Swiss graphic design. The economically drawn images and inventive lettering of his posters designed in the 1920s and early 1930s made an important contribution to Modernism. He mentored Armin Hofmann (fig. 1), Emil Ruder, and Joseph-Muller Brockman, all of whom were important figures in what became the International Typographic Style. Significance of the International Typographic Style has been unfairly reduced to the aesthetic preferences evident in the outcomes of work by designers identified with the movement. To recognize its substance one needs to study the specifics of its origin rooted in the curriculum developed at the Basel School of Design.
One of the important figures of origins of the Swiss style was also Theo Ballmer (1902 1965). He was a designer, photographer and teacher. Ballmer studied at Bauhaus and at Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich. He is known for his political posters and exhibitions, using only simple images and lettering (fig. 4).
Otto Baumberger (1889 1961) was one of the first Swiss who can be correctly described as a poster designer. He designed more than two hundred posters, which helped to modernize the style. In its variety, Baumberger s work embodies and exemplifies the history of Swiss poster art in the first half of the twentieth century, as the painterly artist poster gradually evolved toward graphically oriented corporate design.
Max Bill was another Swiss graphic artist, industrial designer, architect, sculptor, and painter, primarily important for his sophisticated, disciplined advertising designs. He studied at the Bauhaus until late 1920 s when he moved to Zurich where he became a teacher and prime member of the Allianz group of graphic designers. Max Bill belonging to the Concrete Art movement in Z rich applied mathematical systems for the organization of space to his graphic design work.
Herbert Matter was a pioneer in the use of photomontage. His talented use of type earned him great international acclamation (fig.5). After working for the Swiss National Tourist Office and Swiss resorts he moved to the United States in 1936 and started teaching Photography at Yale University in 1952.12 swiss style was a leading German graphic designer who also exerted a strong influence on the Swiss school.
Johannes Tzschichhold (Jan Tschichold) was born as a son of a Leipzig lettering artist and sign printer Franz Tzschichhold and his wife Maria Zapff, in April 1902. His father s profession gave him an early introduction to the many forms of written scripts. Young Tschichold often helped his father and also attended a printing museum in the Buchgewerbehaus (Book Industry Building) which were in the town. Consequently he had knowledges of typography from early age. Despite of his parents ideas, to have their son a professional art teacher, he decided to be educated as a lettering artist. While he studied (from 1919 to 1921) with Walter Tiemann, director of the Staatliche Akademie fur graphische Kunste und Buchgewerbe (Academy for Graphic Arts and Book production), he also attended courses in printmaking and bookbinding. Tschichold supported his education of the books of Edward Johnston (Calligraphy, Ornamental Script and Applied Script) and Rudolf von Larisch (Study in Ornamental Writing) and created a number of calligraphic writings.
Before leaving for Bauhas from 1921 to 1923 he worked in Leipzig as an assistant in teaching courses of calligraphy at the Academy. In 1923 he became a freelance designer in Leipzig. In the same year he visited Bauhaus exhibition and influenced by the modern artists and designers Wassily Kandinsky (1866 1944) and L szl Moholo Nagy, he started to propagate a new visual thinking. It was an inversion in his actual life. Soon, he was also introduced to the work of the Dutch graphic designer Piet Zwart 13 swiss style
Exhibition poster, 1937 While getting acquainted with work we can fall into deluge of varied geometrics and simple effects. This poster looks like an absolutely pure example of New Typography. The design is simple and arithmetical.
Tschichold, J. (1927) Napoleon [Poster]15 swiss style (1885 1977), and the Russian constructivists El Lisstzky. He worked with an assymetric composition, geometric shapes, the use of photography instead of illustrations and sans serif typefaces (fig. 11).
In the light of my knowledge, it was a juvenile opinion to consider the sans serif as the most suitable or even the most contemporary typeface. Jan Tschichold (Jong, Purvis, Le Coultre, Doubleday and Reichardt, 2008 : 19)
Tschichold was so impressed by Soviet constructivism and Russian Revolution, that he changed his name to Iwan (or Ivan) Tschichold in 1923.
Tschichold became an important figure in the new movement known as the New Typography. A first spectacular publication of these views, Elementare typographie (Elementary Typography) , appeared in a special October 1925 issue of the German magazine Typographische Mitteilungen (Typographic News). This was a kind of typographic manifest and caused an uproar in the world of design. In the book Tschichold described the new ideas on typographic design.
Artists and designers had various opinion at the publication. Lissitzky was delighted at the beautiful brochure. The book was received well at the Bauhaus, but the German constructivis reacted critically. Nevertheless, the book had an impact on the future design. The second book

The purpose of the New Typography is functionality.
The purpose of any typography is communication (the means of which are visualized).This communication has to appear in the shortest, simplest and most compelling form.
For typography to serve social purposes, the inner form of the material employed must arrange the content whereas the outer form must establish a relantionship between the different typographic means.
Inner organization means using as few basic constituents as possible; typefaces, numbers, signs, l ines from the type cases, and the typessetter. In the modern world focused on optics, the precise picture, i.e. photography, must be considered as a basic constituent of the New Typography. (Jong, Purvis, Le Coultre, Doubleday and Reichardt, 2008 : 39)16 swiss style
was the most important, Die neue Typographie (The New Typography) was published in 1928. This book explained the function and communication of the New Typography. The book was used as a handbook for printers and publishers and even at the Bauhaus. In a small A5 format he described a modern typography in a short essay. Tschichold inspired by the functional determination of Bauhaus, formulated the basics of the modern visual communication in which aesthetics of modern abstract art were combined together with requirements for legibility, simplicity and subject information. His manifest the New Typography reflected the dynamism of life time, preferences of precision and clarity of sensatial visual. He preferred objective resources as the sans serif and geometric typeface (Grotesk), assymetric composition and whitespace. His book was widely read and highly influential as a major step in modern ideals. The book became the bible of every young typesetter.
From 1927 until 1933 Tschichold constituted the New Typography in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and France. Because of the influence of the Nazis in 1933 Tschichold submitted his registration to the Munich Meiterschule, to assume a teaching position at the new Hohere Graphische Fachschule der Stadt Berlin (Berlin Higher Vocanional School for Graphic Arts). Although Tschichold had a post in Berlin, he changed his mind and decided that he would rather stay in Munich. After the Nazi victory in March 1933, Tschichold and his wife Edith were arrested and they were denounced as a Kulturbolshewist (cultural Bolshevists). Shortly after their arrest, they were released. Tschichold with Edith and their four year son immediately left Munich and on July 28, 1933 went to Basel in Switzerland. Their friend Hermann Kienzle, the director of the Allgemeine Gererbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Basel,
Poster for The Professional Photographer exhibition in Basel, 1938. A clear logic organization of the elements. The poster has geometrical structure, strict horizontal and vertical alignments. He used Akzidenz typeface (consended) and only lowercase.

recommended Tschichold for a teaching post at the School of Arts and Crafts. Between 1933 and 1946, Tschichold produced numerous journal articles, in part due to financial pressure.Two years after he had moved to Switzerland, he published the most important book Typographische Gestaltung (Typographic Design). At this time he began to work with more traditional typefaces and layout arrangements. This book was not only about the New Typography but also about use of photography as a design component. According to Eskilson (2007:302) In this new book, Tschichold reiterated his support for the New Typography but also suggested that the assymetric, flush left layout was not only suitable design formula.
Jan Tschichold was not only a typographer and a book designer. He was also poster designer. Before he left for Switzerland he had been makink posters for publishing houses or some film posters. But his first large commission was the poster for Phoebus Palast cinema in 1927. It was the largest cinema in Germany. He created for them posters, newspapers, advertisements and programs, we would called this as a corporate identity today. The other commisions were for the Volksverband fur Filmkunst (People s Association for Film Art), or The exhibition Das Internationale Plakat.
A poster is a relatively independent area of graphic design, which is the most similar to creative art by using means of expression. The large format increases the effectiveness of communication of the poster. Tschichold tried to complete the primary concept by using of the principles of the New Typography, minimalism and whitespace. His posters are organized into vertical and horizontal fields. He often worked with geometrical structure, each element is in plan type, spacing, colour, and even the meaning. In the organization of the elements, meanings are connected. Tschichold s poster designs rank among the finest in the history of graphic design. His background in typography permitted him to achieve preeminence with minimal means while consistently maintaining elegance and a maximum of expression.
In the post war period, Tschichold worked for Penguin Books in London (fig. 14, 15, 16). This London s publishing looked for the best typographer and offered designers from Europe. Penguin,
The New Typography, in its concern to satisfy the needs of our own period and to make sure that every single piece of printing is in harmony with the present …
Jan Tschichold (Jong, Purvis, Le Coultre, Doubleday and Reichardt, 2008 : 133)

founded in 1935, was the first commercially successful paperback book company in Britain. (Eskilson, 2007 : 314) Penguin Books publisher Allen Lane and the famous English book printer Oliver Simon were suprised by Jan Tschichold s work. Tschichold established a fixed set of typographic standards, the Penguin compositions rules. He installed strict typesetting rules and raised them to the formal level of the printing and publishing. These rules directed attention to next composition, indenting, punctuation marks, spelling, capitals, small capitals, italics, folios, figures, references, footnotes, make up, and the printing plays and poetry. (Jong, Purvis, Le Coultre, Doubleday and Reichardt, 2008 : 269 270) In the few years spent working in London, Tschichold gained much respect and was named an honorary member of the London Double Crown Club, a selective group of English typographers and printers.In 1949 Tschichold felt that his work in Penguin was completed, it was the reason why he returned back to Switzeland.
Between 1950 and 1954 he was an independent typographer in Basel. In 1955 Tschichold took a position as typographer at the Hoffmann-La Roche company in Basel.
Jan Tschichold died on August 11, 1974, in Locarno, Switzerland.

Josef M ller-Brockmann was a Swiss graphic designer. One of the leading graphic and typographic designer since the 1950s.
Josef Muller was born on 9 May, 1914, in Rapperswill, Switzerland. His father Christian M ller had a successful career. His company CH. M ller Baugeschaft (building firm), employed dozens of men from Rapperswill and workers from abroad. Unfortunately, Christiann died two yers after his son was born, on 24 August, 1916. Mother of Josef was Ida M ller Shmucki a strong, independent woman. After her husband s death she became a widow at the age of thirty two. She stayed alone with eight children. Josef s talent emerged at the age of fourteen when attending high school. His teacher recognized his natural 25 swiss style aptitude for drawing. Because of his mother s financial situation, Josef could not study at college. His older brother Paul (firstborn) was sent to university, although he was not as talented as his younger brother. Then Josef continued developing his illustration skills himself. Later an enthusiastic teacher at the Rapperswil Middle School recommended that Muller apply for an apprenticeship as a photographic retoucher. (Purcell, 2006 : 16) Muller spent only one month in a local printer s office than he left. He felt a need to continue with his artistic desires. The period between the world wars strongly influenced M ller s development of art Tschichold s The New Typography and also the work of El Lissitzky or Otto Baumberger. M ller even advocated the opinion that Baumberger was the ingenious, unsurpassed master of large, often monumental, picture language with the minimum of illustrative and chromatic means he was the first and unsurpassed master of the objective informative poster. (Purcell, 2006 : 21)
In 1931 M ller became an apprentice to the designer and advertising consultant of Alex Walter Diggelmann at Studio Diggelmann s Zurich offices.
Although Josef M ller had the financial problem, in 1932 he was registered as a student at the University of Zurich and at the city’s Kunstegewerbeschule. Josef went to the Keller s graphic class to ask him for entrance to the class. Nevertheless, Ernst Keller had a full class and threw him out. M ller was relentless and went to the school every day, and finally Keller allowed him to the course. The young student was delighted at the studies. He was interested in studies of painting, sculpture and design, anatomy, experiments in perpective, and studies of typography. In spite of that he was still unsure about his future direction. At the age of twenty M ller deemed advisable to establish himself, he would need to find a future work. At this time he replied to an offer to work as a designer for Mauser Seeds Ltd. to create a series of shop windows decorations. Josef M ller was convinced that his teachers Ernst Keller and Alfred Willimann strongly influenced him.
In the era of World War II Josef M ller continued to work on the projects in Zurich, although he was a member of army. Because of the Switzerland position and its neutrality he was relatively calm. However, influenced by the anxienty about Naciz, influenced by the Swiss population isolated from the rest of the world he began to investigate his work in depth and sought of merits of the case. During this period M ller met the violinist Verena Brock

mann, his future wife. Together with her father, Professor Dr. Heinrich Brockmann Jerosch and architect Johann Albert Freytag, he found a system of form and function. The products of graphic design are compromise between form and function, consequently analogous to architecture. The form would follows the function. So graphic design did not have only function to inform but also an education mission to cultivate an everyday life of person. During this period Josef married with Verena, he changed his name to M ller Brockmann. On 8 May 1945, M ller Brockmann, along with the rest of Europe, celebrated the end of war. (Purcell, 2006 : 51)

Swiss designers reputedly confused graphic design and advertisement. Despite of the visual communication is closely associated with advertisement. Graphic design and advertisement are components of general questions for common visual communication. In the post war period M ller Brockmann focused on visual identity. For the first time he used advertisement for propagation of Hermes typewriter. Josef M ller Brockmann worked for Hermes for six years. The work for Hermes was influenced by surreal aesthetics as most of his work from this period for example Die Kleine Freiheit (small Munich theatre).
As a young person I had no clear perception of my future I only knew that my professional career depended on my energy, self criticism, discipline, and permanent desire to learn.
Josef Muller Brockmann
(Purcell, 2006 : 11)
Afterwards he switched the direction of his work and began to think about constructivism and international language. Nevertheless, instead of abstraction M ller Brockmann used to work with simplicity, geometric forms and to create a harmony of space similar to music. This harmony between art and music he firstly used in commission for the poster for concert of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1950. The same principle was consequently used for Zurich Tonhalle posters. (fig. 23, 25). This transitional style – abstract shape or drawn illustration still evoked his influences than the international Swiss style. M ller Brockmann continued with work for Zurich Concert Hall for more than twenty – five years. He has modernized his style in 1953 for exhibition poster titled Das Plakat (fig. 24). The commission consists of six posters, each one was a single letter of the exhibition title P , L , A , K , A , T . Each letter was given to different designers such as Hans Falk, Adolf Fl ckiger, and Celestino Piatti. M ller Brockmann made T , he underlined his illustration by using light. The title of the exhibition is in Akzidenz Grotesk typeface, placed in the highlited T. He used capital letters for both words of Das Plakat. Information about the opening times and dates are vertically down the main stroke. M ller Brockmann did not use only illustrations but he exposed these two images (illustrations) in the darkroom, photo its and retouched the protography.
In 1952 he designed public signage for the Swiss Automobile Club Accidens Gauge. This Accident Gauge was installed on the Paradeplatz in Zurich, where it warned of the hazards of driving by presenting a numerical summary that highlighted each week s total automobile related accidents and deaths. It was designed and constructed in an abstract three dimensional designs influenced by Russian Constructivistics in the 1920s. (Eskilson S. J. , 2007 : 303) M ller Brockmann made also an excelent use of Akzidenz Grotesk. This typeface is actually appropriate for this kind of advertisement the numerical statistics without emotions. Josef M ller Brockmann also collaborated with Automobile club of Switzerland for a poster design that would refer to padestrians, cyclists and drivers in one traffic (fig. 18, 21). These posters have wonderful use of perspective, the yellow road urge the situation figured at the poster it made it effective. Brockmann worked with E. A. Heiniger on most of the Automobile Club of Switzerland posters. M ller Brockmann continued to create unconventional designs for them for several years.
M ller Brockmann s geniuses grew in and through the years he became a modernist. For the Zurich Concert Hall posters he used all lowercase for the text and geometric abstract forms instead of the illustrations. Beethoven poster (fig.26) for the Zurich Tonhalle represents the epitome of the Swiss style: curves and asymmetry. By the 1950s, he was established as the leading practitioner and theorist of the Swiss Style, which sought a universal graphic expression through a grid-based design purged of extraneous illustration and subjective feeling. His Musica viva (fig. 20, 27) poster series for the Zurich Tonhalle drew on the language of Constructivism to create a visual correlative to the structural harmonies of the music.
In 1960 M ller Brockmann designed a typographic poster for exhibition at the Zurich Kunstgewerbemuseum, der Film (fig. 28). It is perharps one of his most celebrated designs. The poster type and space communicate in an inventive and original manner.
The grid system is used by typographer, graphic designer, photographer and exhibition designer for solving visual problems in two and three dimensions.
(Brockmann, 2001 : 13)34 swiss style
One important part of the Swiss Style is its remarkable use of photography. Following the modernist ideas in which photography was a much better tool to portray reality than drawings and illustrations, the Neue grafik magazine, a very important Swiss graphic design publication at the time, dedicated a big part of its content to photography and its application in design.

tem. The grid system allowed him to organize his subject matter to create more effective design, not to be overwhelmed by the seeming chaos and complexity of design decisions. The predecessor of this system was Piet Mondrian, the grid is often recognized in his paintings. His compositions are composed of horizontal and vertical lines and rectangular planes. According to M ller Brockmann the grid system is about structure and mathematical thinking. This is the expression of a professional ethos: the designer s work should have the clearly intelligible, objective, functional and aesthetics quality of mathematical thinking. (Brockmann, 2001 : 10)
M ller Brockmann was a professor of graphic design at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Zurich from 1957 to 1960. Later he was a design consultant to IBM Europe from 1967 1988. He published various books about his work and won a lot of awards. He is the author of The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems (1961), History of Visual Communication (1981) or A History of the Poster. He also founded the Muller-Brockmann

Wayne Thiebaud’s Art Style | Essay

Wayne Thiebaud is an artist that has been associated with the Pop Art culture and also was part of the realism that came out of the United States west coast. Thiebaud’s real life representation of his subject has been seen as one of many beginnings photorealism. Before becoming a painter, Thiebaud worked in New York City as a sign painter and also as a cartoonist. He only began to paint in 1949, incorporating skills from his former occupations. Thiebaud is best known for the paintings that are associated with the production line of objects that can be found in diners and cafeterias, such as pies and pastries and others objects of common everyday life.
The Neapolitan Pie that I found in the Norton Museum embodies the techniques that he often used in his paintings. This painting with its thick paint adding to the depth and character led me to want to learn about the artist behind it. Thiebaud chose to celebrate and embrace the delights of the common place and rendered his realistic paintings with a “brilliant eye for abstraction.” Thiebaud’s painting technique can be described as a “cookbook chronicling those that have added sizzle, seasoning or even sprinkle to its prolific palette” What he wanted to set out to do was to create a different visual species, which he described as being the ultimate accomplishment for all painters. Thiebaud says that art needs constant movement of different aspects of itself in order to stay alive. He also states that art draws inspiration from everything around it. He is not afraid of showing in his paintings aspects from other artists who inspired him, “My world is one crime… I steal from every artist around the world.” This may be why Thiebaud completely followed artists that were before him and also artists who were painting in his time period. Wayne Thiebaud had many artists in Abstract Expressionism and artists from Pop Art that he gathered techniques from. There were artistic time periods that he borrowed aspects from and combined with others to produce his own characteristic style. In this paper I will describe all these aspects and how their combination gave rise to the famous work we know Wayne Thiebaud for today.
Thiebaud was a realist painter and painted at a time between Abstract Expressionism movement and the Pop Art era. His growth as an artist started from when he was a young child and as a teenager made poster designs and on stage sets for theatre. Thiebaud worked at Universal Studios and also as an illustrator for the advertising department in New York. He later earned a degree from California State College in Sacramento and this was where he learned and became fond of the fine arts. After this he began to study art history books intensively and the paintings in them, including the transitions in the works from period to period. Thiebaud, while working, became friends with and interested in the works of art from Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline who were abstract expressionist painters. This was a “American post World War II art movement.” the predecessor of this art movement is surrealism, which features elements of surprise and unexpected juxtapositions. Willem De Kooning also was involved with action painting, whose characteristics are spontaneous, splashed, or smeared onto a canvas. Kooning states, “People are always trying to break the backs of paintings by expecting things which paintings cannot do…it’s just a painting. A God damned painting. Just a little thing you smear stuff on. You just hope in the smearing that you haven’t insulted people that you’re asking to look at it.” This statement was a great influence in shaping the thoughts of Thiebaud. He saw this as a quintessential idea for producing works of art
By the early 1960’s the paintings he had produced now began to gain tension, balance, and grace. He placed the forms first and objects were pushed forward and put in a relevant order. He had been making statements like this with his Neapolitan Pie for years before others but was packed together with other artists in the Pop Art period when the movement surfaced. Pop Art was a tradition that challenged the artwork at that time and wanted to show that anything the artist used, which was of mass-production of popular culture could can be connected with fine art. It was widely seen as a reaction and expansion of the dominant ideas of abstract realism, which was a spontaneous or subconscious creation. Pop Art does not refer directly to the art that they made, but the ideas that moved the whole movement itself. During this time, Thiebaud also saw works of art from the earliest pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns whose paintings were based on Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. What Thiebaud did was abandoned most of the ideas that Pop Art committed itself to and react against it, which is surprising since he was seen as a vital part to this period. The work that Thiebaud produced is described as “nostalgic views of popular culture and the American scene with which viewers of all kinds can easily identify.” Most paintings in the Pop Art period were more intimidating for those viewing the work in museums and sometimes were too harsh to appreciate. What Thiebaud said was “I am not a card carrying Pop artist… I don’t like much of it.” Pop to him was more of a business than an operation of honorable painting and he had too much respect for the original products that they played off of to be a part of Pop Art. So while this art period was taking off Thiebaud decided that he was going to move on and became a professor at U-C Davis.
Another influence of Wayne Theibaud was of Abstract Expressionism, which was going on in the time he produced work, and can be seen “in the thick brushstrokes and bold use of colour” which was a constant theme in his works. Thiebaud began to paint images based on food that he would see displayed in windows, focusing not on what he was painting but more on the shape of the objects. What impacted his painting this way was his inclination for simple objects, borrowing aspects of layouts for ads that he did while working as a cartoonist and sign painter. His simplicity to his designs could be understood and recognized as a method that he took into his paintings. This would also be around the 1960’s and Thiebaud wanted to show depictions of the everyday American life while showing a new approach to art, representational art. Artists such as Stuart Davis and his Odol Bottle and Gerald Murphy and his Safety Razor were visions of the coming pop culture era even before Thiebaud began to paint work that would fit into it. As Thiebaud continued to work influences from other artists could be seen in his work like the paintings of Giorgio Morandi like his Still Life. Thiebaud long admired Giorgio’s work “for their contemplative quiet, the palpable sense of protracted looking that they convey, and their delicate, varied effects achieved with seemingly minimal means.” The influence of this was not just in how Thiebaud structured his work, but also by how he manipulated the light and the slow moving strokes to enhance the form of the object. This aspect of manipulating light also was something he used in his signs and works, making a shadow where there is none to draw the eye to areas that there would be none and giving the work depth. This aspect was also borrowed from the tromp l’oeil (fool the eye) painter John Peto, who painted the Letter Rack, who also was said to have an influence on Thiebaud. Due to this influence, Thiebaud would never have any space of where the object would leave the page it would be represented in its entirety showing the readers that it would not be real. He would arrange the object in his painting into a shallow space and used shadows, as previously stated, to suggest some form of depth without there actually being any depth; tromp l’oeil.
The Neapolitan Pie and all the works Thiebaud has produced had notable influences from his background and artists whom he studied and who had an influence on what he produced. Thiebaud had a way of dragging his paint across his canvas in a smooth way that would enhance the luscious textures of oil and transform itself into the very object that he was trying to portray. This, by the artists, refers to object transference and roots can also be traced to Morandi, but also in artists such as Joaquin Sorolla. He painted objects that are common placed around any individual as those of Stuart Davis and Gerald Murphy. Thiebaud had a strong inclination in painting common objects much earlier than those of the Pop culture movement. When Thiebaud first began to paint these common objects though he found it humorous and channeled his cartoonist abilities with his row of pies:
“When I painted the first row of pies, I can remember sitting and laughing – sort of a silly relief – ‘Now I have flipped out!’ The one thing that allowed me to do that was having been a cartoonist. I did one and thought, “That’s really crazy, but no one is going to look at these things anyway, so what the heck.”
However with all of his pastry paintings he handled the paint in a way that makes his work very distinctive. His paintings bring forth a realism of complete visual delight. He made anew the representational subject matter with a bold palette and used his skillful display of brushwork acquired from the Abstract Expressionists he admired.
Wayne Thiebaud copied from the masters because he respected art so much that he wanted to learn from those greats that came before him. What he did was add his own style to it so as to expand on what he learned into a different category, so as to be seen in a new light. He delighted in the works of other art periods like Abstract Expressionism and Realism and saw it as an honour to study an be apart of the art movement. He rejected the ideas of the Pop Art movement that he was classified in because he respected the art work they ridiculed too much to make a mockery of it. He was said as feeling honoured that he was able to apply himself and that he became a force in the artistic movement that is still evolving today. His work will forever be a staple and used as a tool for artist that come behind him to study learn from and elaborate on.