What Was the Reason of Modernist Indifference Towards Ornamentation?
The world of art in twentieth century was full of innovation, more than every other century and the artist tried to influence on addresser more than ever. Also in this century, art has been widely away from decorative and aristocratic function and it has been constantly tried to receive respousible role.
Evolution of the schools of art is not in the from of revolutionary jumps and mere ruptures in a tradition. Any innovative artist belongs to a custom which expresses the artist's innovations. It is not necessary, for emerging one school and starting new period, to ignore all previous customs and start from beginning. In fact artist's innovations are not imposed, but others gradually will accept it and after passing times, attentions turns to the newer and fresher thoughts.
Aesthetics of functionalism that resulted in elimination of ornaments from design, is a recent phenomenon in modernism. In fact, the main part of disagreement with ornamentation in new modernism movement shaped according to tendency which reformists accept that as a kind of choosing approach to the nineteenth century inventions, in which ornamentation was with less or without importance. Excessive tendency of modern art to artistic technique and concepts cause that seriously ignored social and human problems until art was only bound to itself.
However, disput for decorate have mixed with subjects including culture taste joy. Many people who were promoter of modernism in the course of years ending to the second world war, follow ideals and beliefs which improve tastes and promote and propagandize good design between factories, sellers and consumers. Recently modernism aesthetics with excessive bore ornamentations, prominented a kind of industrial designing which have been presented in museum and have propounder itself as a powerful cultural factor.
One of the main promoters who gave continuation to belief of axial Europe plainess(or without ornamentation covering productions "amiss") was the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This museum was founded in 1927, and it has an important role in advertising modernism ideals and tendencies by it architectural and industrial arts.
Encountering with soaring consumption changes, was not just in cultural and designing reformer situations which tried to propagandize modernism aesthetics. After the Second World War, multinational companies emerged as an economical force and converted presence in public domain, these organizations employed a kind of refined modernism aesthetics with efficiency rationality background.
"Nikolaus Pevsner" says in his book(1): Initial architectors who appreciated machine and comprenensed natural identity and as result of that in relation to ornamentation in designing and architectural were two Austrian, two Americans and one Belgian: Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Louis Sullivan, Frank LIoyd Wright, Henri Van de Velde. Although these pioneer have imitated from England in their ideas, they took a lead from England in their enmity with ornamentation, not considering Middle Age, support machine and recognition of that progress. A point which have contrary to Pevsner's opinion from many directions is that designing inventions in late nineteenth century was based on power of resistance against continuous attack of machine. In that persons like William Morris and the rest of follower of Art and Craft Movement, had possessed such a power, in many cases is that preserved continuous tradition of Gothic and didn’t permit aesthetics production was replaced by mechanism. Those who are interest in handicrafts, although Modernism gradually comprehensed that future of machine-made productions based on functionalist is the opposite of ornamentation. Morris believed that human energies consume for creation of decorative works. Because for this course can not suppose any ending, although in many others can believe in a extent easily.
Adolf Loos(2) in his famous essay called "Ornament and Crime" advanced so far forth that introduced emergence of Modern Ornament as a sign of cultural giving in or a kind of Pathology. He introduced them as people who were out of a event which Avant-grade movement reminisced from that as a real style of twentieth century. This style paid attention to materials and new ways of production in modern industries. And looked at them as a device to prepare a kind of aesthetics in which form and function stand exactly along each other. Beside this approach, there was this belief that abstract from and without ornamentation of primary
Machine era, intermixed with a kind of democratic ideal and because of that majority of people was able to enjoy from standards of better life in relation to modern environment, health, cleanliness. This approach was not exceptional at all. Disagreement with ornamentation, recently was one of the basic features of Modern Art and Designing movement.
But many people controverted with Adolf Loos opinion about elimination of ornamentation: Peter Fouler, contrary to him claimed that elimination of ornamentation in modernism designing was one of crimes of our era and introduced this critic about modernism completely. Fouler believed that modernism endangered its credit radically with its partiality from this idea that development is quantitative corresponding of generative good.
But it is not bad to note reasons which Loos had for his disagreement with ornamentation.
In the first place, he didn’t like ornamentation, because he supposed, they are lustful. He looked at all the forms of ornamentation as suppression of sexual or multiform diversion in Froid concept of that. He supposed, ornamentation is feature of those groups which feeling and sexual pleasure of those is a dirty one. And they can not adjuct themselves with social needs of modern world. Ornamentation is symbol of childhood disease which is like scrawl body of elevator. Ornamentation is a sign of crime, there are jails which have tattooed eighty percent of prisoners. Just like amiss aristocrate who persisted on unproductive usage of shininess and pastiche. But Loos, introduce protest about ornamentation based on economical background, he believed: lack of ornamentation means less business hours and as a result more salary. Therefor, claimed that decorative work is wastage of work.
Nevertheless, in late decade of 1980, surface ornamentation and decorative designs often have been changed by minimum efforts such as changing TV program by one handy remote control.
Today, have passed years from come in to play of modernisms and the fact that we are for or against them,is a completely personal idea.
The most important issue is that have been put aside Bazar and machine aesthetics and have been replaced by a kind of aesthetics which have been received exactly from the levels of work that Loos and further advocator of modernism tried to reduce that. Because in general, usage of ornamentation in designing of things and from point of view of customer can be as a device for
transfer social and cultural beliefs and it used as a good which is ready for offer in market. But ornamentation often miss initial credit of messages which intend to transfer that. And more, change to a device for profitability and it will be a power carrier for one special idealogy.
1-Pioneers of Modern Design
2-Adolf Loos: Austrian author and architect(1870-1933)
1-Woodham,Jonathan, M. Ornament and Industrial Designe,paris,1993(trans. Farhad Goshayesh)
2-Fuller, Peter, The search for a Postmodern Aesthetic, UK, 1988( trans. Farhad Goshayesh)
3-Gaut, Berys, The Routledge Companion Aesthetics, 2001