ARTH 191 History of the Avant Garde



This course is focused on the contributions of the Avant Garde to the field of Graphic Design. The fearless investigations of new technologies, combinations of unlikely mediums, and new theories of form and communication by small groups of artists and designers have historically pushed the envelope of what is possible and acceptable. Those investigations typically followed very specific and sometimes quite narrow thesis or manifestos as modes of thinking. Truly experimental, the results were dogmatically followed to their logical conclusions, sometimes with less than useful results but many more times with achievements that to this day remain truly magnificent and highly influential.

To enroll in this course: register for an Independent Study as ARTS 191

As a student of this course you will be asked to produce four “books”, each which will focus on a specific era of avant grade design. Those eras are loosely defined as:

  1. The European Avant Garde of the Early 2oth Century
  2. 1980 Memphis Style
  3. Guerrilla Girls
  4. Digital Typography

You will create a separate book for each of these four eras. Find specific directions for each of these from the links found below. The Hyperlink will redirect you to each specific assignment.

Each “book” must explore the following major areas:

  1. An experimental “avant grade” approach to use of materials/mediums in creating your book—Form
  2. An understanding of the style from the specific era utilizing the required copy supplied for each—Content
  3. Based on your understanding of the individual artist or art movement, imagine what they would be doing today—Analysis


  1. The European Avant Garde of the early 20th Century
    Due Friday, February 17

    1. Futurism
    2. Dada
    3. Berlin Dada
    4. Suprematism
    5. Constructivism
    6. DeStijl
    7. Bauhaus
    8. Merz
    9. Art Deco
    10. Russian theater/set/costume Design
  2. 1980’s Memphis Style
    Due Friday, March 10 

    1. Ettore Sottsass
    2. Michele De Lucchi
    3. George Sowden
    4. Wendell Castle
    5. Carmen Nácher
    6. Nathalie du Pasquier
    7. Michael Graves
    8. Michael Vanderbyl
  3. Guerrilla Girls
    Due Friday, April 7
  4. Digital Typography
    Due Friday, May 5

    1. David Carson
    2. April Greiman
    3. Cranbrook
    4. Wolfgang Weingart
    5. Dan Friedman
    6. Rosmarie Tissi