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09 NOVEMBER 2013

Superstudio: the radical Italian architectural group

"The collective emerged in 1966 at the moment when the technocratic optimism of the first half of the 1960s was souring. The watershed was the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China in 1966 when Mao Tse–tung gave Western intellectuals a new cause to believe in after a decade of disillusion since their faith in communism was shattered by Khrushchev's exposure of Stalin's brutalities. Events in China made Western society seem spiritually barren at a time of growing concern about the Vietnam War. In the visual arts, radicals rebelled against the extrovert imagery of Pop Art in favour of the politically engaged work of Fluxus artists like Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik. The rising tide of political frustration culminated in the 1968 student riots in Paris and copycat protests in London, Tokyo and Prague. Women formed fledgeling feminist movements such as the Women's Liberation Front in the US and Mouvement de Libération des Femmes in France. Decades of oppression against gay men and women erupted in a pitched battle in New York, when the police tried to close the Stonewall, a gay bar in the West Village and a politicised gay rights movement exploded.

Superstudio's response was to develop its 'Anti–Design' projects: themes from which were echoed in the work of other radical architects and designers, notably the members of Archizoom, a fellow Florentine group consisting of Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, Dario and Lucia Bartolini and Massimo Morozzi. Both groups were founded in 1966 and their first important project was to express their theories about the crisis of modernism in the Superarchitecture exhibition in Pistoia, Italy. A year later, they refined the ideas aired in Superarchitecture in a joint follow–up show in Modena."

(Design Museum)

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1966 • Adolfo Natalini • Alessandro Magris • Andrea Branzi • Anti-Design (agenda) • Archigram • architectural thinking • Archizoom • avant-garde • avant-garde thinking • Cristiano Toraldo di Francia • Cultural Revolution • Dario Bartolini • design museum • disillusionment • FlorenceFluxus group • Foreign Office Architects • Gilberto Corretti • ItalyJoseph Beuys • Lucia Bartolini • Mao Tse-tung • Massimo Morozzi • Modena • modernismmodernist ideals • Mouvement de Liberation des Femmes • Nam June PaikNikita Khrushchev • Paolo Deganello • Peoples Republic of Chinaphotocollage • Piero Frassinelli • Pistoia • political frustration • pop artPragueradical architecture • radical design • Rem Koolhaas • Roberto Magris • scientific method • Studio Alchymia • Superarchitecture (exhibition) • superfluous objects • Superstudio • technocratic optimism • Toraldo di Francia • University of Florence • Vietnam war • visionary scenarios • visual arts • vociferous • Womens Liberation Front

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
04 OCTOBER 2013

Filippo Brunelleschi's (re)discovery of Linear Perspective

"When Brunelleschi (re)discovered linear prespective circa 1420, Florentine painters and sculptors became obsessed with it, especially after detailed instructions were published in a painting manual written by a fellow Florentine, Leon Battista Alberti, in 1435. John Berger, an art historian, notes that the convention of perspective fits within Renaissance Humanism because 'it structured all images of reality to address a single spectator who, unlike God, could only be in one place at a time.' In other words, linear perspective eliminates the multiple viewpoints that we see in medieval art, and creates an illusion of space from a single, fixed viewpoint. This suggests a renewed focus on the individual viewer, and we know that individualism is an important part of the Humanism of the Renaissance."

(Beth Harris and Steven Zucker, Smarthistory)

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1420 • 3D spaceAncient Greeceart historyEuropean Renaissance • Filippo Brunelleschi • fixed viewpoint • Florence • Giotto di Bondone • Greece • horizon line • illusionistic spaceindividualismJohn BergerKhan AcademyLeon Battista Alberti • linear perspective • mathesismedievalmedieval artmultiple viewpointsperspective viewrediscovered • Renaissance Humanism • Rene Descartessingle perspective point of view • Smarthistory (site) • vanishing point • viewpointvisual illusionvisual perspective • volumetric

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 DECEMBER 2012

Privileging the collective: the tradition of the atelier method in art and design education

"Art and design education has broadly settled on two categories of pedagogical frameworks, both evolutions from historical precedents. The first of these categories is driven by the spirit of the 'design collective', and comprises the art school studio or atelier model. This was established by the private Florentine art schools of the renaissance from around the 15th Century (King, 2003), always with a focus on making as well as learning from the group – from both peers and Masters. Later, this model of learning through practice carried over to the art schools of England: in his 1858 inaugural address for the Cambridge School of Art, John Ruskin (Ruskin, 1858) spoke about the relative futility of formal teaching per se and instead the pressing need for students to learn by repeated and applied making. For applied craft and design, this studio approach was the method under the influential Bauhaus School (1919–1933) in Germany (Droste, 2005). The second category derives from the teaching of industrial arts and is typically driven by the far greater student volume processing needs of the institution. This category comprises the 'hot desking' or increasingly the 'no–desking' model, with large taught classes in lecture format, and occasional group tutorials. Such a model is often the norm for universities' academic courses. The model spread to the creative courses that were more typically offered by polytechnics in the UK. The first polytechnic dates back to the early nineteenth century (Fox, 1832–1854), although most were established in the 1960's with a remit of applied education in industry and science for work. In many countries, the term 'technical college' is the same as a polytechnic – in both the UK and Australia, many of these colleges converted into universities in the last 30 years."

(Ashley Hall and Tom Barker, 2010)

Hall, A. and T. Barker (2010). "Design collectives in education: evaluating the atelier format and the use of teaching narrative for collective cultural and creative learning, and the subsequent impact on professional practice". In Alternative Practices in Design: Past Present and Future. H. Edquist and L. Vaughan. Melbourne, Victoria, RMIT University: Design Research Institute.

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2010academic coursesapplied craft and designapprenticeshipart and design educationart schools • artists studio • atelier methodatelier modelbaseroomBauhaus School • Cambridge School of Art • craft and designcraft skills • creative courses • creativity skillsdesign and makingdesign collectivedesign educationdesign studio educationdistance learningEuropean RenaissanceFlorence • Florentine art schools • formal teaching • group tutorials • Guild system • hot desking • industrial artsindustrial design • industrial practices • John Makepeace • John Ruskinlearning model • learning through making • learning through practicelecture formatlecturers • no-desking • Oxfordshire • Parnham • pedagogical modelpolytechnicremote learning • Rycote Wood • self-learning • studiostudio approachstudio practice • taught classes • technical collegetutorialsUKvocational trainingWilliam Morris • working environment • workspace

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 APRIL 2011

Art Project: take a virtual (Google) tour of famous art museums

"Simply select a museum from the homepage and then either choose 'Explore the museum' or 'View Artwork'. Once you are in the main site use the drop–down menus or the side info bar to navigate between artworks and museums. Finally create and share your own collections online."

(Google Art Project, 2011)

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2011 • Alte Nationalgalerie • Amsterdam • App Engine • art • Art Project (Google) • artistsartworkBerlincollectiondetailFlorenceFrance • Freer Gallery of Art • Frick Collection • gallery • Gemaldegalerie • Google Art Project • Google IncGoogle Street Viewhigh resolutionintegrationLondonMadridmappingmasterpieceMetropolitan Museum of ArtMoMAMoscowmultimedia • Museo Reina Sofia • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza • museum • Museum Kampa • National GallerynavigationNew YorkNew York CityobjectsPalace of Versailles • Picasa • Prague • resolution • RijksmuseumsearchSt. Petersburg • State Hermitage Museum • State Tretyakov Gallery • Tate Britaintechnologytool • Uffizi Gallery • Van Gogh Museum • Versailles • viewvirtual heritagevirtual tourvisual depictionvisualisationWashington DCweb application • zoom

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 FEBRUARY 2004

La Specola: Anatomies In Wax

"The wax collection, unique in the quantity and beauty of its pieces, was created in order to teach anatomy without having to directly observe a cadaver. [...]The over 1400 models, contained in 562 cases, were made between the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century by the artisans Clemente Susini, Polychrome plaster cast of Clemente Susini, the most famous Florentine wax modeller Francesco Calenzuoli, Luigi Calamai and Egisto Tortori. Guided by Fontana himself these talented modellers worked under the anatomists Tommaso Bonicoli, Filippo Uccelli and the great Paolo Mascagni who dissected cadavers obtained from the Santa Maria Nuova hospital and exposed the part to be modelled. Then the part was reproduced in clay from which a plaster cast was made. Into this the wax – really a mixture of waxes, resins and dyes of which the exact composition is unknown – was poured. Finally, the model was assembled and refined."

(Saulo Bambi)

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anatomyautopsybody • Bonicoli • cadaver • Calamai • Calenzuoli • clay • diedissectionexamination • Firenze • Florence • Fontana • history of medicineItaly • La Specola • Mascagni • resin • reverse-engineerscientific medicinesurgical • Susini • taking apart • Tortori • Uccelli • waxwax models
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