Futurism and Cubism | Contextual Theory for Designers

7 Feb

Gesamkultur – a new universal culture existing in a totally reformed man made environment.

Gesamkultur (Gesamtkunstwerk) is the attempt to create art which uses a wide range of art forms. it attempts to be a total or ideal work of art. the term was initially used by K. F. E. Trahndorff in 1827, although Richard Wagner used the term in essays in 1849, but it is not certain whether Wagner was aware that Trahndorff used it too. The term is commonly related to Wagner who generated a set of Aesthetic ideals. Wagners use of the term in his two essays was used to unify all works of art within the theatre.


Influenced greatly buy Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). they stated that they should “treat nature in terms of the cylinder and the sphere and the cone”. the paintings created that were based on Cubism opened a new door to being able to use space, as well as picturing human emotions. The works that have been created previously are extremely ambiguous, as they have split apart the normal idea of a human portrait. Cubism is closely related to shapes, colours, textures and values in spacial relationships. It also plays with human vision, where we can still scan an object or painting that may not be perfectly obvious, but can still combine the fragments into a whole.

Paul Cezanne was focused on making images through the use of geometric shapes like cylinders, cones and spheres. This was seen within Fernand Leger (1881-1955) who moved away from the initial ideas of Cezanne and Picasso. he took the use of geometric shapes to another level, picturing trees as long cylinders and so on.



Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso – Man with violin (1911-1912)

Picasso played with planes of a subject from vantage points, split them apart then put them onto a canvas. They are extremely ambiguous in nature.










Definition of the futurist Manifesto is “A revolutionary movement in which all the arts were to test their ideas and forms against the new realities of scientific and industrial society” (Meggs, 2012)

The futurist manifesto was a way of explaining the new era of Noise and Speed, the development of the internal combustion engine, flight as a form of transport, development of automobiles and so on. These forms were expressed using Futurist poetry (below).


Filippo Marinetti, Cover for Zan Tumb Tumb, 1912

The title is a sound poem.









The futurists saw this era as a way of freedom of design, going outside the normal structures or horizontal and vertical lines and avoiding such constraints. the use of diagonal lines to create a sense of direction was also used, using nonlinear compositions to animate pages and bring them to life. They attempted to use typography as the sole visual form of communication which was not particularly common before this period.

They used variants of word spacing, changed font sizes, irregular capitalisation, as well as using multiple punctuation marks for emphasis and meaning.


set of cultural tendencies and associated cultural movements originally arising from wide-scale and far reaching changed to Western Society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


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