*we luv ming-ming*

Feb 5, 2011

Ornamentation:Cool or Cold???

Hi all,

Almost 2 weeks I didn't post anything...It's been quite hard weeks for me to handle myself (bipolar mood....duhhhh~). I hope I will get back to my form and strive harder in the future. Amin~. Ok, let's get back to work!!!KYAAAAAA.......(quick recover...hahaha~)

Last Monday (24th Jan), in design history class we discuss about Gustav Klimt and Adolf Loos. These two characters play important role during the era of Art Nouveau in German and Austria. Although they were under the same influence of art, but their way of thinking was completely opposite.

It would be hard for me to tell it in one sentence. So.....I will start with Gustav Klimt.

Gustav Klimt(1862-1918)- he love cat!
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter during the Art Nouveau period. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public building. But he was largely interested in painting figures. Klimt's primary subject was a female body and marked as a frank eroticism.

The Maiden (1912-1913)

Klimt’s style was miscellaneous variety of influences including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek and Byzantine. He also inspired by the engravings of Albrecht Durer and Japanese Rimpa school. While his mature works are make use of symbol or symbolic elements to express psychological ideas and highlight the ‘freedom’ of art.

Klimt’s work is famous by elegant gold or coloured decoration, spirals and swirls, and phallic shapes; to conceal the more erotic positions of drawings. Two of the Klimt’s famous paintings were The Kiss (1907-1908) and portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 (1907). Below are the other paintings that been made by him.

The Tree of Life (1909)
The Golden Knights (1901)
The dancer (1918)

Klimt was one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and the group’s magazine Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring) but he remained with the Secession until 1908. The group’s goals were:

  1.  To provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists,
  2. To bring the best foreign artists’ works to Vienna.
  3.  To publish its own magazine to showcase members’ work.

There was no policy on any particular style in this group; Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The group’s symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom and the arts.

Pallas Athena statue (left) and painting by Klimt (right)

There is a film about Klimt that has been made to contribute his life.

Klimt Movie

Now, Adolf Loos section …

Adolf Loos (1870 - 1933)

Adolf Loos was an Austrian architecture. He was one of the important pioneers of the modern movement in architecture. Adolf Loos was particularly interested in the works of the classicist Schinkel and above all the works of Vitruvius. He developing tasted was considerably broadened during three year living in United States. He’s passion is for smooth, un-ornate, sleek and simple. His influence was based on a few interior designs and a body of controversial essays. His buildings were exacts example of server beauty, variety from conservative country cottages to planar compositions for storefronts and residences.

Ornament and Crime Poster
Ornament und Verbrechen (Ornament and Crime) is an essay written in 1908 by Adolf Loos. The essay was written during the Art Nouveau movement. In 1913, it was translated into English: “The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects”.
In the essay, Loos’s expressed philosophy that ornamentation can have the effect of causing objects to go out of style and thus become out of date. He adds it was a crime to waste the effort needed to add ornamentation, when the ornamentation would cause the object to soon go out of style. Loos introduced a sense of the “immorality of ornament, describing it as “degenerate”, and its suppression as necessary for regulating modern society. In his essay also he wrote, “Since ornament is no longer a natural product of our culture, so that it is a phenomenon either of backwardness or degeneration” which mean that the modern man should eliminate the ornament to reach the highest evolutionary potentialOther than that, he states that the lack of ornament in architecture was a sign of spiritual strength.

According to Loos, ornamentation can be considered if this means that labourer finds joy through his artwork. But if it possible for the labourer to also find joy outside of his work, then the ornamentation no longer has valueHe argued that because ornament was no longer an important manifesto of culture, the worker dedicated to its production could not be paid a fair price for his labour. This essay has become a theoretical manifesto and a key document in modernist literature and was widely circulated abroad.

Another point of argument decried by Adolf Loos was the masking of the true nature and beauty of materials by useless and indecent ornament. He wrote in his 1898 essay entitle ‘Principle of Building’, that the true vocabulary of architecture lies in the materials themselves, and that a building should remain ‘dumb’ on the outside.  

Below are the furniture, kitchenware and building design by Adolf Loos: 

A "Knieschwimmer“ armchair (1906)
Glass service (1931)
Villa Muller, Czech Republic (1930)

Whew………ok! Now, I want to give my own opinion based on my background in jewellery design. In jewellery design it can be either Klimt or Loos philosophy. For example this picture below:

More details on necklace
Simple necklace

Ornamentation jewellery should be wear with plain attire. While the crowded motive on attire should avoid the ‘heavy’ jewellery design.

As for me, most of my designs are probably based on Loos but I’m not hated the details or ‘kerawang-kerawang’ on jewellery. I’m just feel that more details on jewellery, it look complicated. (It’s like my brain is tangled ...its hurt) Creativity in designing jewellery is not only can be developed by adding more and more design on it. Sometimes the simpler is better. See these pictures and make comparison. Which one do you prefer to wear?

Platinum ring with Aquamarine gemstone (Klimt)


Platinum ring with Aquamarine gemstone (Loos)

If you ask me....without hesitation...I'll choose the second ring (Loos)!!!hahahaha...However, be careful!
Don’t ever wear artistic jewellery; it wrecks a woman’s reputation (Gigi Colette)

Artistic necklace

You can check more information about Gustav Klimt, Vienna Secession, and Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime (Original translated essay) by clicking these links below.

That’s all for now. Adieuuu....

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