Last week I took advantage of one of the cultural and intellectual landmarks just outside my doorstep and made a visit to the CCS Galleries at Bard College. The subject matter: a retrospective of the unexpectedly graphic art of the German-born abstract painter self-nicknamed Blinky Palermo.
The artist was unfamiliar to me, most likely overshadowed in Art History classes by more well-known names such as Joseph Beuys or Gerard Richter. Despite how unprepared I was upon entering, the show proved to be a great source of graphic design inspiration, as well as a site of great art. I’ve always been a sucker for bold colors and geometric forms, and Blinky’s work filled the space with life in a way that I won’t soon forget.
Here is a short list of ideas that popped in my head thanks to Blinky:
Color sets the mood
A number of the paintings on display reminded me of the master of color, Mark Rothko. If you’re ever enticed to use gradients in web design work, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas or reading this nifty article from Colourlovers: Rothko in Web 2.0. Even better, head to a museum and take a look at his Color Field painting in person.
Blinky Palermo exhibits a keen notion of color that can either smack you in the face or melt in your mouth (all metaphorically, of course). In art as in design, color is one of the most fundamental elements of communication, and it should be used to warrant an appropriate response or feeling from our audiences. I also love infographics, so here’s one on color: Infographic: How to Use Colors in Graphic and Web Designing
When you abruptly juxtapose colors, the result can be an interesting optical illusion. As soon as I walked into the retrospective exhibition, my eye caught a pair of blue, red, and white paintings that seemed to vibrate with energy. I had just been working on a mood board for a website inspired by Icelandic well-being, so when the first set of paintings on display resonated with the same colors of the flag that had occupied my computer screen during a good portion of the day, I had to smile.
Check out these color optical illusions and make color a source of visible energy in your work!
Use form to achieve emphasis
The painting I fell in love with at the show was a small green rectangle with ever so slight a curve on the bottom edge and top right angle of the canvas and frame. Although difficult to notice at first, that delicate shift in form from what my eyes expected to see (straight lines) and what was really there (subtle curves), kept my attention for a very long time.
The eye is trained to facilitate interpretation by the brain. By switching things up a little bit, the viewer will be forced to take a closer look at your visual and figure it out. Read some more suggestions in this PDF called Design Basics.
Thanks to Blinky, and Bard, for an excellent exhibition. My next stop will be Dia Beacon.