Historical Investigations: Warhol & Greiman
Andy Warhol is an internationally known and praised designer who flourished during the Pop Art movement. Art enthusiasts have no trouble visually connecting the sixties to Warhol’s persona and designs.
This distinct movement had been illustrious for its eager and bright colours. It didn’t shy away from comic and animated themed designs either. It was a time where political movements became overwhelmingly apparent in everyone’s day-to-day lives. Where Black Lives Matter became more discussed and peace signs raised in the air by free individuals defying against political decisions about war. This hippie-like culture was engulfed in bright colours that would distinctly stand out amongst a crowd.
Warhol’s series titled Marilyn Monroe (Warhol 1962) demonstrates the use of bright colours throughout each piece. Each print has a different set of four colours that all complement each other. As an audience, we can see Warhol’s focus on contrast and tertiary colour matches. Not only does this piece visually scream colours, but it also highlights an actress, a past and present icon, Marilyn Monroe. She highlights the era of Hollywood during the 1950 and early 1960s and her reputation was desirable to all. She had died within the same year of the beginning of the production of this series and now encompasses the sorrow of her passing.
It is demonstrated to viewers that Warhol’s practice consisted in taking or collecting simplistic images of highly recognisable objects or persona’s and transform them into bright and electric colours, as seen with Marilyn Monroe. His work Channel No.5 (Warhol 1980) reflects the high society and popular fashion brands in the 1980s. Warhol again carried on a consistent and fluent colour pallet and repetition. Not only do these highly intense colours grab the audiences’ attention but they also enhance all of the elements upon the image.
Warhol was also seen as a commercial artist. This was due to his focus not only being on the glamorous lifestyle of Marilyn and Channel but also the lifestyle of middle-class citizens during this time in society through depictions of everyday objects. The famous work Campbell’s Soup Cans (Warhol 1962) was not only a piece that increased Warhol’s popularity but reflects commercialism through the repeated image of a Campbell’s soup can. Unlike the previous works mentioned, this series of prints maintain the original colours of the ordinary soup can. Neu’s weblog post (2017) discusses that the public had applauded Warhol for his display of a new artistic style and stated that it was the new genre of Pop Art. This work could reflect the growth of mass commercial productions in the sixties. The art-making practice of all of Warhol’s repetitious series would’ve been like a production line, printing numerous of ‘products’ in a quick and efficient process. Being displayed in his studio named ‘The Factory’ would’ve enhanced the production-like aesthetic that Warhol was communicating. Overall, it demonstrates Warhol’s creative abilities and artistic perspective that transforms an overlooked object in everyone’s cupboards into a colourful masterpiece.
April Greiman began her graphic design career during the 1970’s. Her design aesthetic really took shape during her educational path within this decade. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (1998) stated that she began studying at the Kansas City Art Institution and then continued to a graduate school in Basel were she was taught by Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart. This helped Greiman steer away from traditional and European design styles, which she had never necessarily favoured. It was through her education that she was made aware of modernistic styles, but her teachers exposed her to techniques of design that are less modern and more surrounded around ‘post industrial society’ (1998). It was through this practice that she became obsessed with using large spacing between letterforms and more bold and geometric compositions. Though she also was able to incorporate emotive elements to her designs through bright primary colours and changed the shaping of letters, for example through italics. She was later able to further explore her artistic identity during the early 1980’s when Macintosh released new forms of technology that could be used for creative purposes. Unlike most artists that were wary of this invention at the time, Greiman welcomed it and was in awe of this change to design practices. “The digital landscape fascinates me in the same way as the desert”; She has previously stated that the desert is a display of evolution growth and change (The American Institute of Graphic Arts 1998). This was a pivotal time during her career and was what assisted her in creating some of her most recognised designs.
Greiman explored this new found era of digital design through her work titled ‘Design Quarterly 133, Does it Make any sense?’ (Greiman 1989). This black and white digital design explores a futuristic aesthetic that would’ve been granted through the exploration of the new era of technology. This is shown through the incorporation of what seems like coding and pixilation that makes a shape of a woman. This gives the audience a sense of symbolism that could communicate the arise of technology and how it had started to surround our everyday lives. We can see Greiman’s fascination in technology as she enthusiastically displays as many futuristic elements onto the image as a scattered collage using an array of different scaled elements layered on top of one-another.
This next image is a logo produced for ‘Inventing Flight’ and is joined with Ohio Bicentennial ‘Din-zen’ logotype (Greiman 1984). The top logo demonstrates Greiman’s practice of spaced lettering. Not only is this appropriate for the images composition but it again emphasises a futuristic aesthetic. The angled lettering captures the audience’s attention and is successfully recognisable through the use of warm primary colours. It also communicates a sense of power, which can be recognised a lot throughout different designs in the 1980’s as it was a time where political and social movements continued to demand attention through protests, for example, black rights protests.
These two digital designs reflect Greiman’s awareness and curiosity of new styles and design practices through technology. Although her artistic motive was more focused upon new digital aesthetics, her designs were still seen appropriate for the era it was found in through strong compositions.
Greiman, A 1984, Logo for Inventing Flight, a centennial celebration that will coincide with the Ohio Bicentennial; Di-zin logotype, image, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, viewed 19 May 2019, <https://www.aiga.org/medalist-aprilgreiman#slideshow-0-5>.
Greiman, A 1989, Design Quarterly 133, Does it Make any sense?, image, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, viewed 19 May 2019, <https://www.aiga.org/medalist-aprilgreiman#slideshow-0-4>.
Neu, R 2017, ‘Andy Warhol Biography – Life, Death, and Inspiration’, Stencil Revolution, weblog post, 16 June, viewed 5 May 2019, <https://www.stencilrevolution.com/blogs/profiles/andy-warhol>.
The American Institute of Graphic Arts 1998, April Greiman, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, viewed 20 May 2019, <https://www.aiga.org/medalist-aprilgreiman>.
Warhol, A 1962, Campbell’s Soup Cans, MoMA Learning, viewed 5 May 2019, <https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/andy-warhol-campbells-soup-cans-1962/>.
Warhol, A 1962, Marilyn Monroe, image, Masterworks Fine Art, viewed 5 May 2019, <https://news.masterworksfineart.com/2017/10/10/andy-warhols-marilyn-monroe-series-1967>.
Warhol, A 1980, CHANEL no.5, Weidman Gallery, viewed 5 May 2019, <https://www.weidmangallery.com/product/chanel-set-of-4/13236550087/>.
Warhol, A 1989, Self-portrait no. 9, image, NGV, viewed 17 April 2019, <https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/4456/>.