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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/47247
- Starting from zero
- Robertson, Keith
- Starting from zero. The will to eradicate the past with a new set of values and establish a new age is the Modernist mythology we inherit from the art books. These were political idealogues who rewrote history with a new brush. It was the Bauhaus groupies and Constructivists who designed a radical new workers' paradise and these movements helped create a new age; a future where the recycling of the past would be eradicated because the new theory exposed the past as corrupt and passe. Theory was above all a belief that justified action. Theory WAS ideology. Starting from zero was not the obsession of the Dada anarchist nor the naive optimism of the Futurists. 'Starting from zero' was the catchphrase of one of the most influential, opinionated and ultimately conservative group ot architects and designers who were ideologically working out theories of functionalism in design. Here was design governed by an idea. Much of the nineteenth century was spent coming to terms with the machine age. The idea of being true to the materials of manufacture and of being utilitarian was the principal criticism of nineteenth-century British design and manufacture made by John Ruskin and William Morris whose ideas were later taken up by the Germans. Reeling after the death and destruction of the First World War, it is not surprising that the next generation should take a more hard line, apply the theory to their art, be supermen creating a bold new future. They, after all, created the new Modernism and called it the 'International Style'. It was international because it transcended the parochial national styles and traditions. It was the new art which expressed what was universal in the world---the new technology of mass production and standardization. In the past, it was claimed, the machine was used to express the foibles of fashion victims who chose historical motif for ornament. A truly utilitarian art, they argued, would be based on an accurate appraisal of mechanical production in order to develop the truest, purest mechanical aesthetic. Standardization and streamlining were the key to this approach.
- Publication type
- Book chapter
- Look closer: critical writings on graphic design / Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller and D. K. Holland (eds.), pp. 77-80
- Publication year
- Aesthetic; Bauhaus; Critical theory; Graphic design; Modernism; Helvetica; Poor zero
- Allworth Press
- 9781880559154, 1880559153
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 1994 Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller, D. K. Holland. All rights reserved.
- Peer reviewed