In 1919 the poster Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge by Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky. Lissitzky noticed the stimulating power of red with black and continued to use this colour combination in his further works, he had carefully created the perfectly balanced layouts to create the most ubiquitous, all purposefully and universal colour code. Lissitzky put meanings behind the colours, red stood for the revolutionary forces while black represented the darkness surrounding the White monarchists. He was able to exemplify the tension between the two colours by using geometric shapes.
Graphic designers ever since have been using this concept in collages, flags and posters and portraits. After the 1940’s after the concept had been used for the Nazi party’s branding American designers used the concept to indulge on their shameful past and recast them as the yin-yang of a new modern aesthetic.
Theatre De Cornouaille (2003) Alain Le Quernec
“Captures the complex interaction between performers – actors, musicians, dancers – in this avant-grade theatre”
The design on the right above I have chosen to look at explores the concept of Red with Black. Alain Le Quernec has created this poster for advertising an avant-grade theatre that showcases dancers, actors and musicians. So he has created shape of movement and joy in the foreground. In this poster the designer has used the concept by using a red background against a combination of hand and body that has been edited darker but leaves some subtle details. The red background has been used to emphasise the shape of the foreground silhouette. The concept helps convey the meaning that all art forms are passionate and seductive, but also can be powerful. This has also been done through the way the hand has been positioned as it symbolises ballet dancing. This therefore makes the design work extremely successful than having quite natural colours and actually images of ballet dancers and artists.
I find this design piece exciting and intriguing as the colours complement the forms that have been created and is something I would like to experiment with my own ideas. This design also looks at lateral thinking as the artist hasn’t used imagery of the theatre or ballet dancers but has still been able to communicate the idea that this is a theoretical poster, this is something I have looked at in some detail and I find this design particularly interesting in the way it has been able to use lateral thinking.
A Season In Hell (1944) Alvin Lustig
“A black and red assemblage of stark and wobbly forms characterustuc of Lustig’s highly abstract visual vocabulary, is a graphic equivalent of the tormented prose of poet Arthur Rimbaud.”
Lustig created lithograph print for Rimbaud’s Season in Hell in 1945. The aim of the book cover was to have the same affect as a poster, drawing the audiences attention, creating a sense of confusion and wanting to know but to also stand out from all others, this is something Lustig managed to do perfectly with the help of the Red with Black concept. The concept has been clearly used in this peice with a deep red background flowing down the page, with abstracted flowing shapes of black and white breaking up the colour and allowing some drama to be created. Lustig has taken the concept one step further and included typography of the alternate colour in the shapes.
As I haven’t read the book the message and meanings that comes through from the research I have done into the concept and the book lets me know that the colours used suggest the heart break and emotion that Arthur Rimbaud felt whil writing the poem, the use of the concept has meant that only the purest and strongest of emotions are convey, and has left the book to expand on these and what other emotions are attached to the passion and pain. The use of the concept and the emotions it allows to be conveyed inspires me deeply as is something I highly want to experiment with.
Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge (1919) El Lissitzky
“Accurately predicts that the conservative White Russians will be beaten by the progressive communist forces, whose red wedge is a symbol of innovation and transformation.”
- Describe the piece of design and its purpose/background info?
- How has the designer used this idea/concept within their work?
- How does this idea/concept help convey the meaning and messages?
- What successes does this bring to the piece?
- What is your opinion of the work? Is it successful, does it inspire you?