The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstnerby Karl Gerstner; Henri Stierlin

  • Published on
    16-Jan-2017

  • View
    212

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

  • Leonardo

    The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstner by Karl Gerstner; Henri StierlinReview by: Roy OsborneLeonardo, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring, 1983), p. 155Published by: The MIT PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1574832 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 23:57

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

    .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

    .

    The MIT Press and Leonardo are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toLeonardo.

    http://www.jstor.org

    This content downloaded from 195.78.108.40 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 23:57:33 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

    http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpresshttp://www.jstor.org/stable/1574832?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

  • theatrical effects and only a brief acknowledgement is given to the impact on movies and TV. The approach is conservative reportage, more like a stockholder's report, rather than exploitive or imaginative about revolutions in performance and effects of lighting.

    This is a most useful vanity publication. The concluding diagram on pages 214-215 summarizing the development of lighting from oil lamps to modern arcs, fluorescents, incandescents, and flash lamps is a treasure. Too bad graphics were not used more liberally.

    When one realizes the many production areas other than lamps (railroad engines, aircraft turbines, consumer electrical appliances, etc.) that are also the General Electric story, the care in choosing a focus for this history must be admired. Such a glowing tale of a truly general industry is a most rewarding read.

    The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstner. Karl Gerstner and Henri Stierlin (eds.). The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1981. 225 pp., illus. $39.95. ISBN: 0-262-07084-7. Reviewed by Roy Osborne*

    The subtitle of this sizeable book might better have been exchanged for its title: while the entire volume is about "The Art of Karl Gerstner", barely half of its 80-page text concerns itself directly with colour.

    A most valuable feature of the book is a set of 64 colour plates, superbly presented and printed, and organized in a series of 9 picture chapters. This extensive cross-section of Gerstner's work shows him to be an artist obsessed with precision of form and of colour gradation and contrast. This is not so much the visually intuitive precision of a Bonnard or Barnett Newman, but a logical, geometrical order, shared by Gerstner's Swiss compatriots Max Bill, Richard Lohse and Camille Graeser. The artist makes numerous references to his interest in the affinity between art and mathematics, and devotes his final chapter to ideas generated by the Swiss mathematician Andreas Speiser. Among other tributes are those to Goethe, Kandinsky, Duchamp and Albers. (There is no mention here of "Bauhausmeister" Paul Klee, arguably Switzerland's greatest draughtsman and colourist.)

    The first 14 pages of biographical material are followed by 7 essays in which Gerstner tends to avoid stating his own ideas directly in favour of presenting the thought-provoking quotations of others, selected apparently to confirm or strengthen his own stance as a visual artist. The 4 essays which deal with the subjective experience of colour include a precis of Goethe's colour symbolism and collected thoughts on the relationship between colour and form. Reference is not made to physical aspects of colour theory.

    Each picture chapter is accompanied by an informative introduction and notes (in one instance contributed by the Swiss psychologist Max Liischer). Gerstner has worked with serial images since the early 1950s, often employing a practice which Albers called "the art of given form," that is, one in which the format remains the same while colour combinations are changed. This device is intended to throw emphasis from form to colour, though the linear beauty of the designs, such as the "Color Reliefs" and "Color Sounds," is such that one is tempted to feel that any colour combination will look pleasing, if not extremely attractive.

    The emotional impact of these works (which give greater relevance to the title of the book) is immediate and powerful. They confirm that visual art need not be overtly expressionist in its use of colour and form in order to communicate strong feeling between artist and observer. In the early "Aperspective" series (the only series so far completed), an attempt is made to compensate for the non-original nature of a manufactured artwork by making each picture alterable: the appearance of each example can be extensively changed by the observer while the underlying formula remains constant and intact.

    Editor Henry Stierlin deserves congratulation for his initiative in giving Gerstner-an accomplished artist in mid-career-such a free hand in organizing his own material. This is not just a book about Karl Gerstner but a work of art in itself, a stimulating extension of the artist's oeuvre. One hopes that the success of this undertaking may prompt other editors to offer similar opportunities elsewhere.

    "The Spirit of Colors" is available in hardcover and paperback in German, French and American-English editions.

    theatrical effects and only a brief acknowledgement is given to the impact on movies and TV. The approach is conservative reportage, more like a stockholder's report, rather than exploitive or imaginative about revolutions in performance and effects of lighting.

    This is a most useful vanity publication. The concluding diagram on pages 214-215 summarizing the development of lighting from oil lamps to modern arcs, fluorescents, incandescents, and flash lamps is a treasure. Too bad graphics were not used more liberally.

    When one realizes the many production areas other than lamps (railroad engines, aircraft turbines, consumer electrical appliances, etc.) that are also the General Electric story, the care in choosing a focus for this history must be admired. Such a glowing tale of a truly general industry is a most rewarding read.

    The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstner. Karl Gerstner and Henri Stierlin (eds.). The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1981. 225 pp., illus. $39.95. ISBN: 0-262-07084-7. Reviewed by Roy Osborne*

    The subtitle of this sizeable book might better have been exchanged for its title: while the entire volume is about "The Art of Karl Gerstner", barely half of its 80-page text concerns itself directly with colour.

    A most valuable feature of the book is a set of 64 colour plates, superbly presented and printed, and organized in a series of 9 picture chapters. This extensive cross-section of Gerstner's work shows him to be an artist obsessed with precision of form and of colour gradation and contrast. This is not so much the visually intuitive precision of a Bonnard or Barnett Newman, but a logical, geometrical order, shared by Gerstner's Swiss compatriots Max Bill, Richard Lohse and Camille Graeser. The artist makes numerous references to his interest in the affinity between art and mathematics, and devotes his final chapter to ideas generated by the Swiss mathematician Andreas Speiser. Among other tributes are those to Goethe, Kandinsky, Duchamp and Albers. (There is no mention here of "Bauhausmeister" Paul Klee, arguably Switzerland's greatest draughtsman and colourist.)

    The first 14 pages of biographical material are followed by 7 essays in which Gerstner tends to avoid stating his own ideas directly in favour of presenting the thought-provoking quotations of others, selected apparently to confirm or strengthen his own stance as a visual artist. The 4 essays which deal with the subjective experience of colour include a precis of Goethe's colour symbolism and collected thoughts on the relationship between colour and form. Reference is not made to physical aspects of colour theory.

    Each picture chapter is accompanied by an informative introduction and notes (in one instance contributed by the Swiss psychologist Max Liischer). Gerstner has worked with serial images since the early 1950s, often employing a practice which Albers called "the art of given form," that is, one in which the format remains the same while colour combinations are changed. This device is intended to throw emphasis from form to colour, though the linear beauty of the designs, such as the "Color Reliefs" and "Color Sounds," is such that one is tempted to feel that any colour combination will look pleasing, if not extremely attractive.

    The emotional impact of these works (which give greater relevance to the title of the book) is immediate and powerful. They confirm that visual art need not be overtly expressionist in its use of colour and form in order to communicate strong feeling between artist and observer. In the early "Aperspective" series (the only series so far completed), an attempt is made to compensate for the non-original nature of a manufactured artwork by making each picture alterable: the appearance of each example can be extensively changed by the observer while the underlying formula remains constant and intact.

    Editor Henry Stierlin deserves congratulation for his initiative in giving Gerstner-an accomplished artist in mid-career-such a free hand in organizing his own material. This is not just a book about Karl Gerstner but a work of art in itself, a stimulating extension of the artist's oeuvre. One hopes that the success of this undertaking may prompt other editors to offer similar opportunities elsewhere.

    "The Spirit of Colors" is available in hardcover and paperback in German, French and American-English editions.

    theatrical effects and only a brief acknowledgement is given to the impact on movies and TV. The approach is conservative reportage, more like a stockholder's report, rather than exploitive or imaginative about revolutions in performance and effects of lighting.

    This is a most useful vanity publication. The concluding diagram on pages 214-215 summarizing the development of lighting from oil lamps to modern arcs, fluorescents, incandescents, and flash lamps is a treasure. Too bad graphics were not used more liberally.

    When one realizes the many production areas other than lamps (railroad engines, aircraft turbines, consumer electrical appliances, etc.) that are also the General Electric story, the care in choosing a focus for this history must be admired. Such a glowing tale of a truly general industry is a most rewarding read.

    The Spirit of Colors: The Art of Karl Gerstner. Karl Gerstner and Henri Stierlin (eds.). The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1981. 225 pp., illus. $39.95. ISBN: 0-262-07084-7. Reviewed by Roy Osborne*

    The subtitle of this sizeable book might better have been exchanged for its title: while the entire volume is about "The Art of Karl Gerstner", barely half of its 80-page text concerns itself directly with colour.

    A most valuable feature of the book is a set of 64 colour plates, superbly presented and printed, and organized in a series of 9 picture chapters. This extensive cross-section of Gerstner's work shows him to be an artist obsessed with precision of form and of colour gradation and contrast. This is not so much the visually intuitive precision of a Bonnard or Barnett Newman, but a logical, geometrical order, shared by Gerstner's Swiss compatriots Max Bill, Richard Lohse and Camille Graeser. The artist makes numerous references to his interest in the affinity between art and mathematics, and devotes his final chapter to ideas generated by the Swiss mathematician Andreas Speiser. Among other tributes are those to Goethe, Kandinsky, Duchamp and Albers. (There is no mention here of "Bauhausmeister" Paul Klee, arguably Switzerland's greatest draughtsman and colourist.)

    The first 14 pages of biographical material are followed by 7 essays in which Gerstner tends to avoid stating his own ideas directly in favour of presenting the thought-provoking quotations of others, selected apparently to confirm or strengthen his own stance as a visual artist. The 4 essays which deal with the subjective experience of colour include a precis of Goethe's colour symbolism and collected thoughts on the relationship between colour and form. Reference is not made to physical aspects of colour theory.

    Each picture chapter is accompanied by an informative introduction and notes (in one instance contributed by the Swiss psychologist Max Liischer). Gerstner has worked with serial images since the early 1950s, often employing a practice which Albers called "the art of given form," that is, one in which the format remains the same while colour combinations are changed. This device is intended to throw emphasis from form to colour, though the linear beauty of the designs, such as the "Color Reliefs" and "Color Sounds," is such that one is tempted to feel that any colour combination will look pleasing, if not extremely attractive.

    The emotional impact of these works (which give greater relevance to the title of the book) is immediate and powerful. They confirm that visual art need not be overtly expressionist in its use of colour and form in order to communicate strong feeling between artist and observer. In the early "Aperspective" series (the only series so far completed), an attempt is made to compensate for the non-original nature of a manufactured artwork by making each picture alterable: the appearance of each example can be extensively changed by the observer while the underlying formula remains constant and intact.

    Editor Henry Stierlin deserves congratulation for his initiative in giving Gerstner-an accomplished artist in mid-career-such a free hand in organizing his own material. This is not just a book about Karl Gerstner but a work of art in itself, a stimulating extension of the artist's oeuvre. One hopes that the success of this undertaking may prompt other editors to offer similar opportunities elsewhere.

    "The Spirit of Colors" is available in hardcover and paperback in German, French and American-English editions.

    careers as painters but because they considered the graphic impact of their publications as significant as the verbal content. C. Douglas approaches this topic by tracing the ideas of the poet Kruchenykh and the painter Kazimir Malevich to the explosion of new scientific ideas at the beginning of this century. There are also two good comparative essays on Russian and Italian Futurism. John Bowit, who has almost single-handedly brought early 20th century Russian art to the attention of the European and American public...

Recommended

View more >