The relationship between art, design and handicrafts as the main feature of identity in Classic Contemporary Culture

Miranda, C.

Retirado de: http://convergencias.esart.ipcb.pt

RESUMO: A identidade é uma qualidade que nos define, legado direto da cultura em que nascemos e que, em parte, formou nossa personalidade. O design é cultura, porque expressa valores e qualidades. Os herdeiros dos países clássicos do mundo são quem constituem a identidade da Cultura Contemporânea Clássica. Espanha, Itália e Portugal, e também todo o continente americano refletem as características que definem essa identidade. O uso de arte, design e artesanato para fabricar seus produtos, é a sua principal característica. As barreiras entre os conceitos de arte e design realmente fazem cada vez mais a pesquisa em direção a um ponto de vista comum, e é, de fato, um elo que os liga fortemente, como eles compartilham um caráter comum, uma raiz comum. Nesses conceitos há mais aspectos que aderem do que aspectos que se separam, sem esquecer cada singularidade particular.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: arte, design, identidade, cultura, cultura contemporânea clássica.

ABSTRACT: The identity is a quality that defines us, direct legacy of the culture in which we were born and which, in part, has formed our personality. The design is culture, because it expresses values ​​and qualities. The heirs of the classical world countries are who constitute the identity of Classical Contemporary Culture. Spain, Italy and Portugal, and also the whole American continent reflect the characteristics that define that identity. The use of art, design and craftsmanship to manufacture its products, is its main feature. The barriers between the concepts of art and design really do more and more to research toward a common point of view, and that is, indeed, a link that ties them strongly, as they share a common character, a common root. In these concepts there are more aspects that adhere than aspects that separate, not forgetting each particular uniqueness.

KEYWORDS: art, design, identity, culture, classic contemporary culture.

1. Introduction

The links between the concepts of art, design and craft are related to the passing of time, to the traditions of each country and to the way of working of artists and designers. These artisans have captured their ancestral techniques with perfect mastery in the pieces they create, and the artist has managed to draw on that knowledge to their works have the added values of warmth and style.
It was the culture which has transmitted this knowledge to artists as part of a common personality. This cultural heritage is reflected in the work some of the most contemporary designers as they express human and cultural values by mean of their designs.
This cultural reflection in how artists design has resulted in what is called Classical Contemporary Culture. This concept of identity is the direct heritage of the classical culture of all the Mediterranean countries of old Europe and the New World conquered countries. Those are Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as Latin American and North American countries. The Latin roots of their respective languages in not the only link between the countries but also their common history after being Romanized.


Fig. 1 – Burro. Christian Vivanco (Mexico 2014)

 

The expeditions to the New World enabled the implantation of common Latin languages favoring relations among countries.
 “Aunque difícil de evaluar, se reconoce generalmente a los factores lingüísticos y culturales un papel de gran importancia en las relaciones de España con América Latina, y en especial con los países hispanohablantes de esta región. Esto se advierte entre otras cosas en la evolución reciente de los intercambios sociales (migraciones) y económicos (inversiones) entre ambas partes [1].”
As heirs of the Roman and Greek cultures, already they have the capacity of absorbing other cultures and a predisposition to miscegenation. This Latin culture [2] has an open, cheerful, social and vindictive nature.


Fig. 2 – Cabinet. Fernando y Humberto Campana (Brazil 2015)

 
The design is culture, as it expresses values and qualities, and is linked to the individuals. Wilches, shows us different thoughts about the concept of culture under the human point of view. The culture is associated to the human beings, who have developed and maintained it, and not with the animals, or at least is not a thing attributed to them.
 “ la cultura está intrínsecamente conectada con la capacidad del ser humano de relacionarse de manera consciente y/o inconsciente con la otredad. El acto y la forma como un individuo social se relaciona con la otredad, es lo que entiendo por cultura. En la acción misma y en los sistemas de valores que se apliquen para cada uno de estos procesos encontramos la esencia del concepto Cultura
… Las manifestaciones simbólico expresivas o las manifestaciones valorativas y de sentido y significación, las costumbres y tradiciones, los códigos, los rituales y los hitos, son solo eso: manifestaciones, productos de un tipo particular y específico de relacionamiento entre el individuo societal humano y “lo otro”, o lo que llamamos aquí “otredad [3].”
Culture is the basis of all societies; it expresses the way of thinking and behaving of the individuals.
The design is a tool by which the amalgamation of cultures can be expressed. And it is in Latin America [4] where this mix of world cultures has been shown with the highest relevance. The referred amalgamation has led to the definition of this aesthetic and open identity, being one of its main characteristics the usage of art, design and craft work as a way of performing its compositions.
While it is true that the intent of each profession separately may be seem and, in many cases, are different from the other, it is also true, that design and craft are intimately related as a basis of a multidisciplinary game. As, for example, when industrial pieces have been crafted using traditional techniques.


Fig. 3 – Inferno. Davidelfin in collaboration with the painter Santiago Yañez (Spain 2015)

 
In general, the importance of the visual aspect of the products has gained importance through the years in comparison to the quality of the materials. The current industry makes these products to grow in mass, forgetting their traditional character and develops pieces that convey emotions beyond their materiality. To develop products with an expiration date is a contemporary activity that many industries choose as a way of creating.
The word design [5] is already consolidated in Spain in 1775, much earlier than in the rest of the world where it was consolidated after the Industrial Revolution. Currently both art and design are returning to modernism as it can be seen in some pieces exposed on the fairs held in Madrid (ARCO) or on the Milan Furniture Fair. That era was marked by the use of minimalism, and the complete exploitation of resources, to define what could have been called "simplicity".
Many artists have based their work on a traditional usage of materials for their designs, such as the brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana. Or the graphic designers Pepe Gimeno or Isidro Ferrer, the architect César Manrique or Heloisa Croco artist whose work involves both art, design and craftsmanship.

 
Fig. 4 – Heloisa Crocco (Brasil)



This material quality of the products is not a random choice, it is defined by the idea that the designer wants to express with the object, among other features.
“La elección de material entraña una enorme responsabilidad. Hasta ahora decidíamos un material por sus cualidades físicas, simbólicas, y sensoriales, pero la actualidad proponer un material supone asumir responsabilidades éticas que hasta ahora soslayamos. No es lícito consumir recursos no renovables, esto es injustificable porque siempre hay otra opción. Diseñar es elegir entre todas las posibilidades la más beneficiosa en un contexto global. El material ha de ser contemplado en todo su ciclo de vida. Un material define un paisaje nos pone en contacto con la diversidad del medio natural. El entorno artificial es también natural, no existe esta dualidad [6].”
Artisanal values were claimed by artists and designers, to claim the manual values of the objects, trying to remove the cold repetitiveness of industrial processes, and providing a personal identity in their designs.


Fig. 5 – Rebotijo.  Martín Azua (Spain)


 
The Arts & Crafts movement, which was developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, is considered as the real founder of the industrial design. Supported by Ruskin and by the designer William Morris [7] it denounced, in a sense, the industrialization and claimed the artisan creation of objects, providing them dignity. Dignity that has been lost due to mass production. In the exhibition of Barcelona in 1888, many businessmen began to realize that this loss of artistic value could reduce their competitiveness in the future.
Also the German Bauhaus [8] with its methodology based on the creation of functional objects, has affected the shape of the designs and the way of thinking of the designers and artists and it has also been a foundation of the definition of what is  a good design. The German Bauhaus school inculcated its students the importance of the creation of practical objects, intended for industrial progress, where economic value was adjusted for an universal enjoyment. In this way it promoted the creation of pieces with little ornamentation, with straight and simple lines that should not be out of their canon both in the development methodology as on the finished products.
The workshops were taught by two teachers, the artist and the craftsman. The first one, the artist, gave instructions on the formal aspects that the piece should possess, while the artisan taught about the proper functioning of the manufacturing processes or about the production means. The student’s work was based on the experimentation and the personal discoveries. This methodology has its origin in the works of the mathematician Leibniz, who thought that all the truths of science are based on experience, and for whom nothing happened by chance, as everything has an explanation or a reason to be assimilated. This methodology would also be applied later in the School of Design in Ulm.
This educational system was a model for many design schools, not only German ones but also in countries such as France, India, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, still being used nowadays in many commercial brands who design products or furniture. This German design is more functional and technical, in opposition to the identity of the Classical Contemporary, more aesthetic and artistic, absorbing this one knowledge from the first one.
The industrial revolution sparked two thoughts that were already considered by Walter Benjamin in 1936 in his writing La obra de arte en su época de reproductividad técnica [9]. In this book, some supporters of the artisan perspective and the supporters of innovative techniques express themselves.
In this way was how Jean Baptiste Bracelle creates a series of works in 1624 representing mechanic men, or how artists belonging to this movement created paintings very similar to metal objects in organic objects. Raymond Duchamp-Villon, brother of Marcel Duchamp, creates a machine-like horse in 1914.
It is this kind of conceptual artist [10] based their works, immersed in a state of the art thinking idea his art creation, in eliminating the purely artistic part and leaving the work in its barest sense. Priority was given to mental conceptualization.
Nevertheless, every moment has followed a trend influenced by political, social, economic, and even personal events that have been transmitted in the work of artists as these works are part of their identity, which can not be separable of their artistic expression.


Fig. 6 – Poster in support of Angela Davis. Félix Beltran (Cuba-México 1971)


The identity is reflected in these kinds of human expressiveness. The referred identity defines the individual in contraposition of the others, showing their personality in artistic creations or designs.
The designers have used their work as a means of expression of, in some occasions, vindictive societies [11]. They, with their own individual identity, also have a social conscience and take advantage of their profession to show popular demands.
The graphic design has been a great diffuser of those ideas and claims, when other formats could not be used, transforming it into a cultural artifact [12]. The poster has been a tool used by transgressive societies.
In Italy, Ettore Sottsass [13], who was the founder of the Memphis group, transforms the design concept, its world and its idea in order to deal with the rationalism of modernity in contraposition of the standardized universes. Sottsass is a clear example of social intentionality due to his aim of contradicting what was culturally accepted at his time.
“Toda su obra sugiere la idea de inmenso collage; sus muebles, sus objetos y sus espacios – impregnados de elementos de la vida cotidiana, surgidos de toda una serie de fragmentos de imágenes, de recuerdos de viajes, de culturas lejanas y guiados por un trazo casi infantil- son el fruto de una búsqueda casi incesante y de una gran sensibilidad artística [14].”



Fig. 7 – Tahiti. Ettore Sottsass (Italy)




These designs were created in Italy, with designers from different countries, show the ability of the Classical Contemporary of taking features from other cultures, and creating pieces that, while remaining industrial, are exhibited in museums and are considered as art pieces.


2. The intentionality of art, design and craft concepts.

The link between art and design is present from their origins and evolutions and, in some specific periods of time, the art has been the raw material of the design.
In art the choice of the materials may or may not be a goal, while in design this decision is adapted to the foreseen function of the final piece, not being subject to any given prejudice.
Sigmund Freud [15] developed the psychoanalysis in the early twentieth century, coinciding with the beginnings of modern art, sharing both concepts, not only their date of birth, but also coinciding in different aspects during the twentieth century. This psychoanalysis or "the science of the unconsciousness" has been used by artists for searching for ideas, as Surrealism artist did in the 1920s and 1930s, or for criticizing their own ideas, from a theoretical and political perspective, as the feminist movement did in the 70s and 80s. Both art and psychoanalysis are fascinated by the origins, by dreams and fantasies, by "primitive" children and fools, by how subjectivity and sexuality work, among other interests that lead them on the same path.
Clinical work and analysis of the symptoms of actual patients was what started psychoanalysis, and in this case, in its close relationship with art, one wonders who occupies the position of the patient, maybe the work, the artist, the viewer, critical or a combination or succession of them. The Freudian criticism reflected the symbolic interpretation of modern art as if it was a dream to decode, in which there is a hidden and latent message behind the content in which it manifests itself, and it is here the use of art as a coding system.
The Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg has shown the affinity that both art and psychoanalysis have towards knowledge, as both share a great concern regarding subtle details that, in psychoanalysis, reveal aspects that the subjects cannot express freely and, in art, are the attribution of the artist.
“En tales interpretaciones el artista es la fuente última a la que apuntan los símbolos: la obra se toma como su expresión sintomática, y se usa como tal en el análisis. Así, en su estudio Un recuerdo infantil de Leonardo da Vinci (1910), Freud nos lleva de las sonrisas enigmáticas de su Mona Lisa y sus Vírgenes Marías a postular en el artista un recuerdo relacionado con su madre, perdida mucho tiempo atrás. De este modo Freud y sus seguidores buscaban signos de alteraciones psicóticas en el arte (su predecesor Jean-Martin Charcot hacía otro tanto). No quiere decir esto que Freud considere al artista como psicopatológico; de hecho insinúa que el arte es una manera de evitar ese estado. <<El arte libera al artista de sus fantasías>>, comenta la filósofa francesa Sara Kofman, <<del mismo modo que la “creación artística” burla la neurosis y toma el lugar del tratamiento psicoanalítico>>. Pero es cierto que esta crítica freudiana tiende a la <<psicobiografía>>, es decir, a trazar una semblanza del artista en la que la historia del arte se remodela como estudio de casos psicoanalíticos [16]”.
The art is created for delighting a humanity that takes pleasure in the plastic creativity, where the final end is the expansion of this creativity that reigns in the mind of the artist, where art can develop into design and design can be art by itself.

 
Fig. 8 – Fantasmico. Jaime Hayón (Spain)


If we are referring to craft, we cannot forget the gifts shops found at the entrances of churches, museums or tourist areas, where a multitude of gadgets are exposed with a clear intention. It is here where, according to Enrique Loewe Lynch [17], change must occur. Here is where research should be done, in the relationship between art and craftsmanship in the characteristics that make an object functional while keeping those cultural traits and in the identity that is rooted to the place from where the craftsmanship comes. Those values that, in addition to design, new techniques and materials and new concepts we have nowadays, provide greater intrinsic value to the creations of designers and artists can not be lost.
Aznar defined the art offices, as for instance crystal carving, as those artistic productions could not be framed either as art or as craftsmanship, highlighting their cultural heritage and the need for a revaluating them. This character does nothing but enriching the product is created.
“La tradición de un pueblo no es el pasado muerto, sino lo que del pasado sobrevive en él. Este legado, extenso y valioso, trasmitido de generación en generación, constituye su Patrimonio artístico y cultural, como genuina materialización del genio y el quehacer ancestral de nuestros artistas y artesanos [18]”.
 

Fig. 9 – Camper. Curro Claret (Spain)

 
Art, craftsmanship and design could be thought as separate entities, but each one feeds the previous one, and so in a cycle in which, while the differences they present, they have the same intention, which is to transmit emotions and to be used for a final goal.
Even in ancient times, the difference between the craftsman artist [19] and art artist as it can be understood nowadays under distinctive connotations, were not separatist concepts. Nowadays who formerly was consider as an artist is what is currently considered as offices man, and something called "art" is as if we adequate to what currently is considered as "scientific". The work of former craftsmen/artists developed something with specific purposes, providing the crafted pieces with a given functionality, what closer to what nowadays is considered as industrial design. The design is based on invention, playing with the concept of originality and based on their autonomy and on creative intuition.
The designer Emilio Gil uses a quotation from Ortega y Gasset 's essay ”La deshumanización del arte" to show what he meant by a good design, and how the designer’s mentality must possess certain characteristics and how all should considered design as art [20].
“En cambio, el arte nuevo tiene a la masa en contra suya y la tendrá siempre. Es impopular por esencia; más aún, es antipopular. Una obra cualquiera por él engendrada produce en el público automáticamente un curioso efecto sociológico. Lo divide en dos porciones: una, mínima, formada por un reducido número de personas que le son favorables; otra, mayoritaria, innumerable, que le es hostil.”
Gil shows how in those years a series of events happened, where the creators had new aesthetic and distinctive attitude. With a summary of what happened at the time when Ortega lived, several movements in regards to art and design arose, which marked the history.
In this technological age in which we are immersed currently, the experience of buying an object consists in a self-identification between object and user. The artists investigate in the shape and in the materials choice to create beautiful objects.
In this way, as Garcia –Garrido [21] points out, a person can be identified with an artistic piece, rejoicing by merely appreciating its beauty and its overwhelming visual wealth. This identification is the one of the purposes of artists, who creates a game of interaction between his work and people. Considering the design as the vanguard of contemporary art, the artistic aesthetics in design pieces is greatly appreciated by the population.

 
Fig. 10 – Kaleidoscope table. André Theomán (Portugal 2015)

 
Formerly, many works of artists were not signed, they were anonymous, free of identification signals. The marking helps in the purpose of differentiating a piece between being art or design, where there is not an original or a distinctive signal that decontextualized it and puts it into a different world for which it has been created . The design applied to a creation is mostly to reproduce it and in a way it can be used by end users.
“La intensidad creadora del diseño no es menor que la del arte. Al contrario, hacer una cosa que no sea solamente bella sino también ajustada, supone capacidades creativas adicionales. El arte es ajeno al valor de uso. El arte es sin sentido. No necesita tener inmediato significado, es ajeno al sentido. El diseño se mide en la cosa, con el sentido de ésta, con su inmediatez social, con su funcionamiento técnico y su economía. El arte puede renunciar a todo esto [22].”
 

3. Conclusions

The concepts of art, design or craft should not be limited only to use or to their commitment to the materials that are most used on each field. Art, design or even craftsmanship go beyond the limitations that the material confers. The fusion of both of them is the perfect combination for a more fruitful future tandem
The intrinsic culture of an artist can be seen as a raw material from which he is fed. A raw material that cannot be unlinked from the artist as it is inherently related with him as he is born in that environment and conditions his intellectual development and way of working. In past centuries, the difference between the work of the artisan, artist or designer was not as big as it may be nowadays as more delicate design assignments were ordered to artists and the most skilled craftsmen were simply true artists.
The Industrial Revolution improved in many ways the lives of people, but it did not helped to keep the taste for aesthetics. The Arts&Crafts movement tried to overcome this disadvantage of the revolution by promoting a more manual design, centered on a more artisan point of view of the objects, by recovering the old way of creating, so valued and full of artistic sense, outside the industrial, repetitive and cold characteristics that the machinery will endow to each industrial piece.
But the conceptual desire of separating the designer of the artist has, indeed, united them in a way the avant-garde designs link both figures in contraposition to the technicality of the Bauhaus, the Neo Dutch or Central European Secession or Italian movements.


Fig. 11 – Lámpara Pomi. Luca Nichetto (Italia 2015)

 
The artist and designer make use of traditional craftsmanship techniques, highly valued in design objects, providing them with certain cultural nostalgia, typical of conservative societies and makers of quality works, carefully tended and where patience and well done work are part of the intentions of the artisan. But if the art work is unique it should be considered as a piece of art, nourished by the experience of craftsmanship, while if the work of art is crafted with a practical purpose in mind is should be considered as an industrial design piece.
There are many open or closed discussions about what is art or design, their combination or their separation, or the professional mixture that can be the starting point for the creators of objects. But one common aspect that both fields share is their ability to thrill who, with wisdom and enough attention, is able to assimilate the creativity and the message that the designer himself sends, in a way object and client privately indentify and mutually understand each other, which would be the functional purpose, where the artistic discourse ends.


Notes

[1] OTERO, J. De Bogotá a Rosario. La lengua española y la política regional de España en América Latina. Madrid, Real Instituto Elcano, DT Nº 36/2004, p. 19.
[2] GARCÍA GARRIDO, S, Op. Cit.
[3] WILCHES MAHECHA, E, “Cultura o actos y formas del relacionamiento humano. Base para entender la lógica de la interculturalidad”, colaboración colectiva en El descubrimiento de América Latina: diversidad de saberes en diálogo hacia un proyecto integrador, Editorial Signo Latinoamérica, España 2005, pp. 145-150.
[4] BECK, H. “América latina como encuentro cultural creativo”, en INVENIO, Noviembre 2005.
[5] GARCÍA-GARRIDO, S, “Afinidad con los objetos y valores de nuestro hábitat. Revalorización del objeto y el material en desuso, en arte y diseño contemporáneos” en Arte y políticas de identidad, Vol. 10-11, Jul-Dic 2014, pp.172-190.
[6] AZÚA, M, “Del producto al objeto. Por una revalorización del entorno material” en Temas de Diseño: Diseño en el siglo XXI. La forma del futuro, Nº 27. Barcelona: Elisava, 2011.
[7] CAPELA, J, LARREA, Q. Nuevo diseño español. Editorial Gustavo Gili SA Barcelona 1991.
[8] DROSTE, M, Bauhaus, Taschen 2006.
[9] BENJAMIN, W, “La obra de arte en su época de reproductividad técnica”, en BENJAMIN, Walter Discursos Interrumpidos I, Taurus, Buenos Aires 1989.
[10] COMBALIA, V, Comprender el arte moderno. DeBolsillo, Barcelona 2003,p.103.
[11] FARGAS, G. prólogo del libro de F. TABORDA/J.WIEDEMAN, Latin American Design Graphic, Taschen, Köln 2008, p. 6.
[12] VERGARA-LEYTON, E, GARRIDO-PEÑA, C, UNDURRAGA-PUELMA, C, “La gráfica como artefacto cultural. Una aproximación semiótica al cartel social en Chile” en Arte, individuo y Sociedad, 2014, Nº 26 (2), pp. 271-285.
[13] FITOUSSI, B. Memphis, Editorial H. Kliczkowski 2003.
[14] FITOUSSI, B. Memphis, Editorial H. Kliczkowski 2003.
[15] FOSTER, H; KRAUSS, R; BOIS, Y.-A Y BUCHLOH, B. Arte desde 1900. Ediciones Akal 2006, p.15.
[16] FOSTER, H; KRAUSS, R; BOIS, Y.-A Y BUCHLOH, B. Arte desde 1900. Ediciones Akal 2006, p.19.
[17] LOEWE LYNCH, E, en Mora, T, Artesanía española de vanguardia. Innovación y diseño en las industrias artesanas contemporáneas, en Fundación para la innovación de la artesanía- Lunwerg, Madrid 2011, p. 9.
[18] AZNAR, F, “Los oficios de arte: significado y perspectiva” en Arte, Individuo y Sociedad, vol 21, pp.165-170, Universidad de la Laguna 2009, pp.166-167.
[19] SHINER, L, La invención del arte: una historia cultural, Paidos Ibérica, 2004.
[20] GIL, E, Mentalidad del diseñador, en De lo bello de las cosas. Materiales para una estética del diseño. Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona 2007.
[21] GARCÍA GARRIDO, S, "Arte & Diseño como transmisores visuales de Identidad & Felicidad", en CRESPO FAJARDO, J.L. (coord.) Estudios sobre Arte y Comunicación Social. Sociedad Latina de Comunicación Social. Tenerife 2011.
[22] GIL, E, Mentalidad del diseñador, en De lo bello de las cosas. Materiales para una estética del diseño. Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona 2007.


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Reference According to APA Style, 5th edition:
Miranda, C. ; (2017) The relationship between art, design and handicrafts as the main feature of identity in Classic Contemporary Culture. Convergências - Revista de Investigação e Ensino das Artes , VOL X (19) Retrieved from journal URL: http://convergencias.ipcb.pt