Monday, May 12, 2008

GEMMA - Herbert Bayer


“Every period, if true to itself, must create its own cultural expression out of its specific place in history.”

Herbert Bayer was an Austrian Graphic Designer, Painter, Photographer and architect. Richly involved in the arts and crafts movement, Bayer’s work revolved around abstract and surrealist painting, sculpture, environmental art, industrial design, architecture, graphic design, lithography, photography and tapestry. Born in 1900, his style revolved around the ever progressing process of industrialization, with new tools, techniques and mediums being introduced at the hands of such more modern artists and in particular designers such as Bayer himself.

Bayer apprenticed under George Schmidthammer in which was the artist who first introduced Bayer to the arts and craft movement. Bayer was here presented with new techniques such as lithography and the era’s tools for graphic design. Here Bayer developed a crisp visual style and adopted use of all-lowercase, sans serif typefaces for most Bauhaus publications and in 1925 he developed the geometric sans-serif typeface, Universal. It is during this year that Bayer, while on a vacation in Paris, gained an appreciation for the art of photography and began to experiment with his camera.

Bayer then moved on to become art director of Vogue magazine's Berlin office. His work here was very popular, working with modern fashion ideals and stylistic compositions in terms of tonal balance and emphasis on physical features through the use of colour. In addition, the typography and ideas on typography he introduced to the magazine were foundational to contemporary graphic design. Bayer most efficiently explored the emerging creative possibilities of photography at the time.

When Bayer was 38, he came to the United States and began a new career of great distinction in advertising. In succession, he became consultant art director for J. Walter Thompson and art director of Dorland International. While here, Bayer was instrumental in moving the Bauhaus to purely sans serif usage in all its work. Bayer believed that art, technology, and nature should share a unity.

True to the Bauhaus ideal, Bayer was a “total” artist, contributing to the Expressionist, Constructivist, Cubist and Surrealist painting, drawing and sculpture. His work is found in collection in such institutions as the Bauhaus Archiv in Berlin, Switzerland, the Bayer Archive at the Denver Art Museum, and may more.


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