Cultural and Contextual Referencing


IMMA Trip:

We went on a class trip to the Irish Museum of Modern Art ( IMMA ) to see the El Lissitzky exhibition and the ‘What We Call Love: Surrealism to Now’ Exhibition. Both exhibitions we great but I preferred the second exhibition about Surrealism.


The Surrealist movement was founded in Paris in the 1920s by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. The aim of surrealism was to reveal the unconsicious and reconcile it with rational life. Surrealism also aimed at social and political revolution and for a time was affiliated to the Communist party.

The Exhibiton:

The exhibition itself was really interesting. It had a wide selection of work displayed from sculptures, paintings, drawings and installations created by a selection of some of the greatest artists of the 20th Century.

The exhibition seeks to understand current perspectives on what love is. It includes almost 200 artworks, many of which are being shown to Irish audiences for the first time.


Here are some images from both of the exhibitions below.

El Lissitzky:

El Lissitzky – Cover Design for journal ‘Broom’


El Lissitzky – Cover and typography ‘Kunstismen: the isms of art: 1914-1924’



‘What We Call Love’ – Surrealism to Now:

Pablo Picasso – Le Baiser (The Kiss) – 1931


Salvador Dali – Couple au tete de nuages ( couples with there heads full of clouds ) – 1937


Felix Gonzalez-Torres ‘Untitled (March 5th #2 ) – 1991





( ‘What We Call Love’ Surrealism to Now – Brochure/Leaflet )


De Stijl:

Dutch for The Style, De Stijl was founded in 1917. The artists most recognized with the movement were the painters Theo van Doesburg, who was also a writer and a critic, and Piet Mondrian, along with the architect Gerrit Reitveld. The movement proposed ultimate simplicity and abstraction through which they could express an idea of harmony and order.

The harmony and order was established through a reduction of elements to pure geometric forms and primary colors. De Stijl was also the name of a publication discussing the groups theories which was published by van Doesburg. The publication De Stijl represents the most significant work of graphic design from the movement, but the ideas of reduction of form and color are major influences on the development of graphic design as well.


Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937-42

This is a typical de stijl style, with lines and minimal colours used. It is a nice simple design that works well, and was different from the art movements that came before it.

Piet Mondrian:

Dutch pioneer of abstract art, who developed from early landscape pictures to geometric abstract works. He was born in Amersfoort, Utrecht. He studied painting at the Amsterdam Academy from 1892-40 and again, part-time in 1896-70. He began to work in a more vividly coloured and sometimes pointillist style in 1908 and then lived in Paris from 1912-14 and was influenced by Cubism, which he carried to the point of abstraction. He returned to Holland in 1914 and step by step evolved a more simplified abstract style which he called Neo-Plasticism which was restricted to the three primary colours and to a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines on a white ground; associated with van Doesburg in the De Stijl movement 1917-25. He lived from 1919-38 in Paris where he joined the group Abstraction-Création in 1931. He then moved to London in 1938-40, and then in 1940 to New York where he started to develop a more colourful style, with coloured lines and syncopated rhythms. He died in New York.

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Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43)

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Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue (1921)




Art Nouveau:

Art Nouveau was a decorative arts movement which came about in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was aimed at modernising design and seeking to escape of historical styles that had been created previously. Artists got inspiration from both geometric and organic forms which became elegant and intricate designs. Eventually the style went out of fashion after it gave way to Art Deco in the 1920s, but it experienced a popular revival in the 1960s.

The Peacock Skirt (1894) – Aubrey Beardsley


Jupiter and Semele (1895) – Gustave Moreau


L’Indolence (Laziness) (1896) – Felix Vallotton





Poster Design-‘More Opportunities for Woman’:

As part of a museum trip to see propaganda posters, we had to come up with a poster design based on a topic of choice, in a group. Myself and a fellow classmate, firstly began to brainstorm on a topic that our poster could be based on. We then decided that we wanted to base our poster on equality in the workplace for woman. After this we made a mind map, having a list of jobs mainly associated with men on one side and woman on the other:


We came up with the idea of having a silhouette of a woman with a builder’s hat on her head. We decided to go with a builder’s hat as there are a very small amount of woman working as a builder. We then put the type going around the image.



Dadaism (Powerpoint):

Dada or Dadaism was a form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics. Dada was not so much a style of art like Cubism or Fauvism; it was more a protest movement with an anti-establishment manifesto.

Raoul Hausmann was an artist and writer from Austria. One of the key figures in Berlin Dada, and created experimental photographic collages.


ABCD (Self-portrait) – A photomontage from 1923-24

Hannah Hoch is known for her incisively political collage and photomontage works. She rearranged text and images from the mass media to critique the failings of the Weimar German Government. She drew inspiration from Pablo Picasso and fellow Dada artist Kurt Schwitter’s collages.

Though she created art based on the politics of Germany, she often focused on gender issues and is recognised as a pioneering feminist for works such as,

Das schone Mädchen ( The Beautiful Girl ) -1920

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It was a visual reaction to the birth of industrial advertising and ideals of beauty.

Raoul Haussman was Höch’s partner for a period of time too.




Art Deco (Packaging Essay):

Art Deco is a movement in the decorative arts and architecture  that originated in the 1920s and developed into a major style in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s

The Chrysler Building, New York:


The Chrysler Building is an Art Deco style skyscraper located on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. At 1,046 feet (319 m),  the structure was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. It is still the tallest brick building in the world, with an internal steel skeleton. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it was again the second-tallest building in New York City until December 2007, when the spire was raised on the 1,200-foot (365.8 m) Bank of America Tower, pushing the Chrysler Building into third position.


The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen for a project of Walter P. Chrysler. . At the time it began to be built, there was an intense competition in New York City to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. Van Alen’s original design for the skyscraper called for a decorative jewel-like glass crown. When the building was completed in May 20, 1930, the added height of the spire allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure. It was the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 m).

Chrysler_Building_Midtown_Manhattan_New_York_City_1932        NY_Height_Comparison


The Chrysler Building is considered a leading example of Art Deco architecture. The corners of the 61st floor are graced with eagles; on the 31st floor, the corner ornamentation are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps. The building is constructed of masonry, with a steel frame, and metal cladding. The building currently contains a total of 3,862 windows on its facades. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and a New York City Landmark in 1978. He drew inspiration from machine technology for the ornamental details on the Chrysler Building.


‘Eagles’ – Chrysler Building


‘Radiator Caps’ – Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building is also renowned and recognized for its terraced crown. Composed of seven radiating terraced arches, Van Alen’s design of the crown is a cruciform groin vault constructed into seven concentric members with transitioning setbacks, mounted up one behind another. The stainless-steel cladding is ribbed and riveted in a radiating sunburst pattern with many triangular vaulted windows, transitioning into smaller segments of the seven narrow setbacks of the facade of the terraced crown.

terraced crown

Up Close look at the terraced crown arches – Chrysler Building


Top of the Chrysler Building

There are two sets of lighting in the top spires and decoration. The first are the V-shaped lighting inserts in the steel of the building itself. Added later were groups of floodlights that are on mast arms directed back at the building. This allows the top of the building to be lit in many colours for special occasions.


The Chrysler Building lit up at night




Punk Subculture:

Punk is a subculture in which punk rock musical style is based and associated with. The subculture consists of history, culture, lifestyle and community. It first emerged in the United States and United Kingdom in the mid 1970s and then spread globally and evolved into a number of different forms. Punk culture style is distinct from other popular cultures/subcultures. It has its own styles of music, fashion, dance, visual art, ideology, literature and film.

 Several subcultures have developed out of punk such as goth, psychobilly, and emo.





Is Mainstream Culture the Culprit Behind the Death of Punk?


Jessica Hische – Contemporary Designer:

Jessica Hische is a contemporary graphic designer. She specializes in lettering and type.

I have always had an interest in lettering and type, and when I seen her work, I knew I wanted to find out more about it and her.

I decided to watch her Offset talk first, which was really interesting. Her work is amazing and her work ethic to create stuff that you love to design is really inspiring.

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Here is the link to the Offset Talk;


Jessica Hische attended the Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania, where in her senior year she created a board game titled ‘ Pack your Baggage’. This was the first time she had properly used her own typography for a project she had done.

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Here is some letter forms she done as part of