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The form of Design:

Influences of the Gestalt theory, due to the Bauhaus, in Max Bill’s works Student: Lorena Moreta Sanz Student ID 11281

Tutor

Ă ngel Cordero Ampuero

Department of Architectural Composition

Group TFG 4

Jorge Sainz Avia, coordinator ETSAM

Technical University of Madrid


Index

Summery and key words Introduction 1. Gestalt psychology -What is Gestalt?

-Gestalt main principles

-Balance -Form

2. The school of Bauhaus -History of Bauhaus

-Teachers at Bauhaus

-Semi-sphere around two axes, 1977. (Sculpture)

-Poster for the exhibition «konkrete kunst, 50 jahre entwicklung», 1960.

3. Max Bill -Biography 4. Objetives and methodology 5. Analysis of Max Bill’s works -12 groups of four in a white field, 1982. (Painting)

-Rounded-Squared table, 1950. (Furniture design) (Poster design)

-Poster for the exhibition «pevsner, vantorgerloo, bill, kunsthaus zürich»,

1949. (Typography design)

-Exhibition of the swiss section of the Triennale de Milano, Italy, 1936.

(Ephemeral architecture)

-Fleckhaus House, Odenthal, Germany, 1960 - 1961. (Individual hou-

sing)

-Collective housing Cinevox with cinema Neuhausen, Switzerland, 1957.

(Collective housing)

-School of Ulm (Hochschule für Gestaltung), Ulm, Germany, 1950-1955. (Public use building)

6. Conclusions Sources Bibliograph and digital resources Ilustrations


Summery

Max Bill was a versatile artist, who excelled in numerous artistic facets, such

as painting, sculpture, furniture design, exhibition poster design, typography, and above all as an architect. He was born in Switzerland in 1908 and studied at the Bauhaus School between 1927 and 1929.

Once he was in Dessau, he became interested in mathematics and cons-

truction, and later devoted himself to painting, architecture and design, and in

1951 he founded the School of Ulm, which continued with the tradition of the

Bauhaus. He was rector and director of the departments of architecture and design from 1951 to 1956. He defended functionalism and mathematical forms.

This work focuses on the figure of Max Bill as a versatile artist, to better un-

derstand his work and his thought. For this, an analysis of his stage as a student at the Bauhaus is made and information is collected on the teachers who

most influenced him. In this time in the Bauhaus classes of form, color and ba-

lance are taught. The learning consisted mainly of the analysis of simple forms

and basic colors, combining them and understanding the nature of each one.

This educational method had its basis in the Psychology of Gestalt, which is translated as the Psychology of the form.

This paper aims to demonstrate, through the analysis of different works of

the artist, that Gestalt Theory influenced Max Bill’s work, mainly due to his passing through the School of the Bauhaus.

Key words Design

Form

Max Bill

Gestalt Psychology Bauhaus

Art


Introduction

«I remember vividly that morning when, before entering the Dessau station, I suddenly had before my eyes the facade of the Bauhaus building. It was something never seen: white walls and large dark glass facades and, in the foreground, the student residence, with the red note of the balcony doors» 1 Max Bill

Max Bill was an architect, painter, sculptor and designer born in Switzer-

land in 1908. He studied at the Bauhaus school, where he forged his personali-

ty and his character as an artist. He was influenced by great personalities from

the art world, such as Johannes Itten, Vassili Kandinsky, Paul Klee or Josef Al-

bers, who would be his teachers during his training period.

During his stay at the Bauhaus, Max Bill first undertook a preliminary cour-

se, obligatory to continue studies at the school. It was in this course where he

had greater contact with the theories of Gestalt Psychology, which had emer-

ged in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.

For Gestalt theory there are numerous principles that identify how the human

mind configures the sensory elements that reach it. And these are the postula-

tes that are present in the work of Max Bill, thanks to the influence that his time

at the Bauhaus school left on the artist.

This is what the present paper intends to explore, first investigating and

gathering information about what is the Gestalt and what are its basic princi-

ples, and then find out how Max Bill’s stay in the Bauhaus influenced him and his work.

Once all this information is known, we will try to demonstrate through the

analysis of their works, the relationship they have with some of the principles of

Gestalt Psychology, due to the knowledge acquired by Max Bill in the school of 1.  BILL, Max . Description, years later, of his first impression about the Bauhaus. DROSTE, Magdalena.

Bauhaus. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2013.

the Bauhaus. It is intended to deepen not only into the facet of the artist as an

architect, but also to include works that belong to other areas of art in which he

was prolific, such as painting, sculpture and furniture design, exhibition posters and even typography .


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In spite of analyzing these other artistic fields, it will be the architecture that

will feature the greatest number of analyzes carried out, including ephemeral projects, housing and public works.


1 Gestalt Psychology

What is Gestalt? Gestalt psychology emerged in Germany at the beginning of the 20th cen-

tury. The main authors that are included in the beginning of this psychological

current are Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka and Kurt Lewin. The

word Gestalt is usually translated in Englsih as ‘form’, although it could also be translated as ‘figure’ or ‘structure’.

For the Gestalt theory, the human being perceives the images that he recei-

ves as a whole formed by smaller elements, as if it were a set of components.

However, the Gestalt is not limited to studying these elements independently, separated from each other, since the real perception of the images is obtained

with the union of all these components, understood as the totality they form. .

In this way, although to understand an image or an object it has to be analy-

zed in its entirety, if it is possible to identify which are the minimum and minimum elements that make it up, which give it its special and concrete charac-

ter, which makes it possible to distinguish it from other images or objects.

The human being perceives in an organized manner, with essential and com-

plementary elements that con fi gure the totality of what is perceived. The scenes are organized with two kinds of elements: figure, the most important and

1.1 (Left) Image that represents

figure-background duality.

Web: www.ilusionario.es

representative elements, and background, the secondary elements that finish

configuring the whole scene. We see examples of this figure - backgroung organization in the following images. (Figures 1.1 y 1.2)

1.2 (Right) Three

circumferences form the

scene creating a triangle. Web: alumnos.unir.net

2. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

It is interesting to know what the forms say as visual objects. As it is said in

the book «Art and visual perception» by Rudolf Arnheim, «it is generally admitted that the foundations of our current knowledge of sensory perception were

established in the laboratories of Gestalt psychologists.» 2


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Gestalt main principles Within the psychology of Gestalt, there are many principles that identify how

the human mind shapes the sensory elements that reach it. These are some of the postulates that make up the theory:

1. Principle of pregnancy, of good form, which asserts that the mind more

easily understands the simplest forms. (Figure 1.3)

1.3 Principle of pregnancy.

LUPTON, Ellen y ABBOTT, J,

The ABCs of [triangle, square,

circle]: The Bauhaus and design theory. Gustavo Gili, 1994

2. Principle of similarity, by which our mind groups those similar elements

together. (Figure 1.4)

1.4 Principle of similarity. Web: alumnos.unir.net

3. Principle of proximity, in which our mind groups those elements that are

closest to each other. (Figure 1.5)

1.5 Principle of proximity.

ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

4. Law of closure, our mind is able to complete figures that are incomplete,

until we fully recognize the figures represented. The more complete they are, the easier they will be to recognize. (Figure 1.6)

1.6 Law of closure. ARNHEIM

Rudolf, Art and visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

5. Principle of symmetry, we tend to recognize more easily those elements

that are symmetric, due to the repetition of the element. The more elements that are equal to each other, the easier it is to recognize them. (Figure 1.7)

1.7 Principle of symmetry Web: www.emaze.com


G estalt P sychology

9

Balance In the book «Art and visual perception», Rudolf Arnheim explains that «To

see something involves assigning it a place within the whole: a location in spa3. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

ce, a score on the scale of size, luminosity or distance.» 3

As already explained within the postulates of the Gestalt Psychology, an in-

complete drawn circle will be perceived as a complete one that is missing a piece. Our brain is able to deduce it based on knowledge that it has previously 4. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

acquired. This is what Arnheim defines as «perceptual inductions.». 4

When there are relations between objects in space, the eye intuitively sta-

blishes the distance that is considered correct to which these elements must

be. When there are several elements in a single composition, in the center of it

the forces will balance each other, so that central position will correspond to a

resting position. If we take again the words of Rudolf Arnheim, «in general, any location that coincides with a constitutive feature of the structural skeleton introduces an element of stability. If influence predominates from a particular di5. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

rection, it is a pull in that direction. 5.

Therefore, not only the clearly visible elements are the only ones that form

a composition, but the perceptual forces that we find will also form part of the components. These forces will give the composition balance or imbalance, depending on its position and its directions.

1.8 and 1.9. Balanced positions

inside the composition structure. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception.Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

We can see how in the center all the forces balance each other, and there-

fore the central position translates into rest. In general, any location that matches an element of the structure of an object introduces a stability element. If we move this central location, we will perceive imbalance. (Figures 1.8 and 1.9)

Except in regular forms, there is no method of calculation that can replace

the intuitive sense of balance that the human eye possesses. Still, there are fac-

tors, such as size, color or direction that contribute to the visual balance of the elements in the compositions.


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If we look at the two figures with a white background, we can clearly say

that in the fi gure on the left the lines are not centered, however, it will be harder to know in the figure on the right. (Figure 1.10)

1.10 Balance and imbalance of

black lines in white background. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

The same happens in black background figures. In the one on the left we

do not know clearly if the lines are straight or curved, or the direction they have, however in the one on the right these issues are perfectly recognizable. (Figure 1.11)

1.11 Perception of curves

and straight lines in diferent

compositions. ARNHEIM Rudolf,

Art and visual perception.

Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

Arnheim describes in his publication two properties of visual objects that

exert special influence on balance: weight and direction. It calls weight to the

intensity of the gravitational force that pulls the pictorial and sculptural objects. However, the visual weight is also exerted in other directions. The weight influences the location, since a strong position on the structural frame can support more weight than one that is off center or away from the central vertical or horizontal 6

6. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999

Another factor that according to Arnheim influences equilibrium is spatial

depth. «Ethel Puffer has pointed out that the views, which take the view to the distant space, have a great counterbalancing power: the greater the depth at which an area of the ​​ visual field reaches, the greater its weight will be. It is also

possible that the volume of the empty space in front of a distant part of the scene carries weight.»

7

The weight also depends on the size, so the object that is bigger will weigh

the most. As for color, light colors are heavier than dark colors, as Josef Albers

says in his book «The interaction of color» 8. (The theme of color will be discussed later, in the section of the Bauhaus).

7. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999

8. ALBERS Josef, The

interaction of color. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1996


G estalt P sychology

11

The balance is achieved when the forces that exist in one system compen-

sate each other. This compensation, according to Rudolf Arnheim, depends

on three properties of the forces: the location of its point of application, its in9. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

tensity and its direction. 9

visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

As explained in his book, «In all works of art, the factors we have just enu-

merated can act with each other or against others to create the balance of the whole. The weight per color can be counteracted by the weight per location.

The direction of the form can be balanced by the movement towards a center of attraction. The complexity of these relationships contributes greatly to len10. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art

and visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

ding animation to the work.»

10

But, as a conclusion to these postulates we must ask ourselves: why is the

balance searched, and why specifically does the artist seek it in his works? In the book «Art and visual perception» of Arnheim we can also find an answer to this question.

According to the author, «man seeks balance in all phases of his physical

and mental existence, and this same tenure is observed not only in all organic life, but also in physical systems. [...] The balance achieved in the visual ap11. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art

and visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

pearance, not only of paintings and sculptures, but also of buildings, furniture and ceramic objects, is enjoyed by man as an image of his broader aspirations.» 11

In this way we could deduce that man seeks balance in his life. It is the final

goal to achieve, but without forgetting that this equilibrium is obtained through

the interaction of forces previously discussed. The combination of forces, which we can consider as movement, as energy, is what moves the human being, and with which he finally achieves the desired balance.


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Form In the book «Art and visual perception», Rudolf Arnheim explains that

«Seeing means to apprehend some salient features of objects. These features determine not only the identity of a perceived object, but also make it appear to us as a complete and integrated scheme.» 12

As we have seen before in the basic principles of Gestalt, the similarities

12. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and

visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

of form also unite distant elements in space, as well as the similarity of directions.

Therefore, in addition to balance, the form is also essential when it comes

to perceiving an element. The form is determined by the limits of an object that

can be simplified to obtain the most characteristic features of the objects, be-

coming a very simplified visual representation, like the one we see below, of a person, drawn by a small child, by artists of the Mesolithic or in the Chinese ideogram of the word man. (Figure 1.12)

1.12 Simplified representation

of a person. ARNHEIM Rudolf,

Art and visual perception.

Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

In conclusion we obtain that in spite of the simplification of forms, the ob-

jects that are represented will be easily recognizable by our mind as long as the main characteristics of the object are collected and can be interpreted. If

we exceed the elimination of information, it will be too difficult to perceive the real object, even making it impossible to recognize it.


2 The school of Bauhaus

History of Bauhaus

The school of the Bauhaus was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Wei-

mar, Germany, as a school of crafts, design, art and architecture. It had three

different seats. First Weimer, then Dessau, where Max Bill studied, and finally Berlin.

It would lay the foundations of industrial design and graphic design that we

know today. The teaching in the school was taught by teachers of all the arts,

who gave classes in theater workshops, of fabrics, of mural painting, etc.

Gropius defined the program and the goal of the Bauhaus school: ÂŤthe

14. DROSTE, Magdalena.

Bauhaus. Cologne,

Germany: Taschen, 2013.

group of artists and artisans should together build the construction of the futureÂť 14.

The syllabus of the Bauhaus followed a very clear scheme. First, a prelimi-

nary course was held for 6 months, which was later extended to a whole year,

which students had to pass in order to continue their education at the school.

Once passed, three years of training in workshops dedicated to the different arts were accessed (Figure 2.1) .

2.1 Logo of Bauhaus. The

syllabus of the Bauhaus.

LUPTON, Ellen y ABBOTT, J,

The ABCs of [triangle, square,

circle]: The Bauhaus and design theory. Gustavo Gili, 1994.

Bauhaus through time. LUP-

TON, Ellen y ABBOTT, J, The AB-

Cs of [triangle, square, circle]: The Bauhaus and design theory. Gustavo Gili, 1994


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Teachers at Bauhaus The main teachers of the preliminary course were renowned artists such as

Vasili Kandinsky, Paul Klee or Johannes Itten, who became the director of this

preliminary course. A brief review of what the classes of each one of them was,

in order to understand the way in which Max Bill was influenced by them, is pro-

posed below.

Classes by Johannes Itten: «Itten’s pedagogical principle can be described

with pairs of opposites: intuition and method, capacity for subjective living and

Johannes Itten. Web: http:// culturacolectiva.com

capacity for objective recognition. Movement and breathing exercises initiated

classes. The students had to relax; Only then could Itten get direction and order in the flow. [...] The class hours structured around three points: the sketches

of nature and matter; the analysis of old masters and the nude class. [...] At the

same time, there was the learning of contrast, form and color. [...] In the form class we started with the elementary figures circle, square and triangle and each

one was given a certain character [...] Itten taught the laws of color and the form of composition and configuration [...] sought to reach inside the person » 15

Classes by Paul Klee: «Transformed the Learning of the form in a pictorial

Paul Klee. Web: artrepublic.com

learning of the form. [...] Klee started the class with exercises on the theme of

basic forms, later he followed the theme of basic colors. [...] He recommended a

synthesis of the study of nature and the intensive observation of matter » 16

Classes by Vasili Kandinsky’s: «For him, the starting points of the work were

synthesis and analysis. [...] The color course announced by Kandinsky as part

of the course of form, came to fill an important gap. His starting point were the

red-yellow-blue colors and the circle-triangle-square shapes. [..] He was interes-

ted in the effect of color. [...] Another point of his class was the analytical drawing,

the students had to copy, in different stages, the main lines and the compositio-

Vasili Kandinsky. Web: http:// www.kunstdetektei.de

nal tension of a still life, until obtaining the structure of a coherent abstract pic-

ture. »

17

But who undoubtedly in fl uenced Max Bill was Josef Albers, director of the

preliminary course from 1928 to 1933, coinciding the two during Max Bill’s stu-

dies at the Bauhaus between 1927 and 1929.

In the work that we see next page, belonging to one of Albers’ classes in the

Bauhaus, he tries to explain the color mix, how some weigh more than others,

and how to know which is the dominant color. (Figure 2.2)

15, 16, 17. DROSTE,

Magdalena. Bauhaus. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2013.


T he

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B auhaus

15

Josef Albers. Web: http:// www.albersfoundation.org

2.2 Mixture of colors on paper.

Albers’ class at Bauhaus’

preliminar Course. ALBERS

Josef, The interaction of color.

Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1996

The mixture of colors on paper; chapter IX «When painting, it is easy to mix pigments by pouring them together and sti-

rring them, with which an intermediate color is obtained as a mixture. Since this

can not be done with paper, we have to imagine a possible «intermediate color».

In Plate IX-1 we superimpose part of a brown rectangle on a pinkish-red rectangle. First we pass the view several times from left to right through the overlapping area, which is where the mixture should appear. After several passes in

one direction and another we see that the red seems to come out through the

brown on the left, and that the brown seems to come out through the red on the

right edge of the overlap. This proves that we have a true mix. It is easy to see

that the right edge of the brown rectangle has a heavier boundary than the left edge of red. Therefore, this mixture contains more brown than red. Thus, brown

18. ALBERS Josef, The

interaction of color. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1996

is on top; In other words, brown is the dominant color in this mixture. [...] » 18

As we can see from all the information gathered about the teachers and their

methodologies when teaching, it is easy to understand that the Theory of Ges-

talt, form, function, color, was present in all these classes of the Bauhaus school.

They based their apprenticeship mainly on the analysis of shapes and colors, a fact that influenced Max Bill in his professional career as an artist.


3 Max Bill

Biography Max Bill, was born in Switzerland in 1908. He studied at the Bauhaus School

between 1927 and 1929 (Figure 3.1), but before joining this institution, he studied silversmithing in Zurich.

Once he was in Dessau, he became interested in mathematics and cons-

truction, and worked in scenography. Mathematics is a fundamental part of his

training at the Bauhaus, since he later becomes an artist very interested in pro-

portions. This is due to the fact that during his stay at the school he attends a

3.1 Max Bill’s as a student at the Bauhaus. Web: http://www.metalocus.es

class of technical subjects taught by the mathematician Walter Köhn.

Despite having great masters of painting as professors, Max Bill describes

painting as something almost clandestine in school, where instead of a course,

students went to the homes of teachers. They were the so-called «free pain-

3,2 Image of the School of

Bauhaus. Web: http://www. vanguardia.com.mx

ting classes». After leaving the Bauhaus (Figure 3.2), he created his own ar-

chitecture studio in 1930.


18

THE FORM OF DESIGN He then dedicated himself to painting, architecture and design, and in 1951

he founded the School of Ulm (Figures 3.3 and 3.4), which continued with the

tradition of the Bauhaus, and which was closed in 1933. He is rector and director of the departments of architecture and design from 1951 to 1956. He defen-

ded functionalism and mathematical forms.

3.3 Max Bill at the School of Ulm. Web: http://dissenycv.es

3.4 Max Bill at the School of Ulm. Web: http://www. sanahujapartners.com

Max Bill was a versatile artist, who excelled in numerous artistic facets, such

as painter, sculptor, furniture designer, exhibition poster designer, typographer, and especially as an architect.


4 Objectives and methodology

With the information gathered in the previous sections, you can start the

analysis of Max Bill’s works to show the influence of the Gestalt theory, through his time at the Bauhaus school.

It has been chosen to analyze a work of each and every one of its facets

as an artist: -Painter

-Sculptor

-furniture designer

-Advertising posters designer -Typographic designer -Architect

His facet as an architect has been given special consideration, choosing

in this case four works, four architectural projects that fit into different categories:

-Ephemeral architecture -Individual housing

-Collective housing

-Public use building

In order to analyze the works, a series of Gestalt principles have been cho-

sen that are to be found in them. Obviously it is not intended that all works meet

all the selected postulates, but follow at least some of them.

The principles of Gestalt theory that have been chosen to proceed with the

analysis of the works are the following:

1. Law of closure: the human brain is able to complete simple geometric fi-

gures and schematic drawings without the need for them to be drawn completely. The strokes of the drawing can be recomposed if they are sufficiently close together, and if they are arranged so that the fi gure remains recognizable.

The more closed a form, the easier it will be to recognize. We tend to close and

finish the forms that are unfinished because they are more visually stable. Therefore, we can conclude that this law tells us that a form is better the closer its

contour is, so in the analysis we will look for this type of figures and forms.


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2. Principle of pregnancy: is related to what is considered the perfect form,

which is loaded with information, and with a simple glance we can know all its qualities. We could say that we are impregnated with it, and that we recognize

it more simply than if the form were more complex. Therefore, these forms take

more relevance in the compositions, given that they are recognized at the moment. In the analysis of Max Bill’s works, these forms, their strength and their

relevance within the composition will be analyzed, as well as their relationship

with the rest of non-pregnant forms.

3. Principle of proximity: we can consider grouped those elements that are

closer in space. Although these elements are different, either in form or size,

they are linked by their proximity to each other. In this way, in the same com-

position we can find different groups of elements that are grouped together forming compositions among themselves, but within a whole. Therefore, in order

to carry out the analysis, these relations of proximity between elements will be

sought, as well as the relationships that are created when different groups are

created in the same composition.

4. Balance of forces. Tensions: We can find compositions that the human

brain will consider in balance or imbalance depending on its structure, and the position of its elements within them. To see something implies assigning

it a place within the whole: for every spatial relation between objects there is

a ÂŤcorrectÂť distance, which the eye intuitively establishes. In general, any lo-

cation that matches an element of the structure of an object introduces a stability element. If we move this central location or coincident with the structure,

we will perceive tensions and forces that will lead to imbalance. In the analysis of the works we will look for these equilibria of forces, and we will identify

the forces that are in the compositions, their directions as well as the tensions they produce.

5. Principle of memory: the more times the forms are repeated in a compo-

sition, the easier they are to perceive. The same will happen if instead of com-

plete forms they are orientations of elements or directions, that mark the meaning of the composition. Although these same elements are not close, they will

be understood as linked by their repetition. To analyze the works we will look

for repeated elements as well as directions of elements, seeing their relationship in space despite their distance and if they manage to create balanced and stable compositions.

6. Principle of similarity or equality: if in a composition we find elements of

different classes, those that are of the same class will be linked together, grou-

ped into different compositions. These equalities do not have to be solely formal, size or color are also characteristics that influence this type of groupings.

In fact, it will be perceived more clearly if the inequality is based on color, that is, if the elements have the same shape, but have different colors.

It will be analyzed in the works if we find this principle, especially enhan-

ced in shapes and colors.


O bjectives

and methodology

21

7. Notable Mathematical Proportions: As previously stated, Max Bill was

clearly influenced by the mathematics classes he attended, being one of the

essential subjects during his stay at the Bauhaus. It is tried to find these mathematical proportions in the works, that will give rhythm to the compositions and

will make them easily comprehensible to the naked eye.


5 Analysis of Max Bill’s works

12 vierergruppen in weissem feld / 12 groups of four in a white field,

1982. (Painting)

It is a pictorial composition that to the naked eye represents a square made

up of linear elements of four different colors: red, blue, dark green and green-

yellow. Analyzing these elements we obtain that the proportions of these lines are 1/20. (Figure 5.1)

5.1 12 groups of four in a white field, 1982. Max Bill. Fundación Juan March, Catálogo de la

exposición Max Bill, 2015

At first glance two forms are pregnant in the composition. The perimeter is

formed by a square, inside which you can see four right triangles, with a pro-

portion of sides 3,4 and 5, and again a square in the interior. In this way we

could talk about the principle of the Gestalt pregnant form in this picture.

Analyzing the composition more thoroughly, we actually find that there are no

square fi gures, but that they are compounded with the juxtaposition of the four

aforementioned right triangles (Figures 5.2 and 5.3). However, due to the position of these triangles, the human brain interprets the square fi gures with the

naked eye more quickly and easily than the union of the four right triangles.

5.2 y 5.3. Squared figure

made of triangles


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These right triangles are formed by twelve linear elements, 3 in the minor

leg, four in the major leg, and five in the hypotenuse. Here Max Bill reveals

his great interest in the mathematics he already showed during his stay at the

Bauhaus, and which will be reflected in the proportions of his different works.

These twelve elements can be divided into four groups of three elements, depending on their color.

In this way, having four groups and four colors, it is concluded that the num-

ber of elements of each color is the same, thus obtaining four triangles that

would have the complete perimeter of each of the colors (Figure 5.4) .

5.4 Color disposition in the triangles according to the analisys that was made.

The distribution of colors is not done randomly. You can see a relations-

hip between the colors red and green, relating vertically, and blue and yellow,

which are related in a horizontal way.

However, if we can see that in each triangle colors are arranged in a linear

way, that is, repeating in a serial way, always in the same order.

In the following figures (Figures 5.5, 5.6, 5.7 and 5.8) you can see how the

colors are distributed in the geometry of the rectangle, and how the color corresponding to each of the triangles is reached. The analysis is based on the

color composition of the corners of the triangles, which, according to Gestalt

principles such as the Law of Closure, are sufficient to identify the triangular

shape. Thus, the most repeated color in these corners will be the one that assigns the color to each triangle.

5.5 Color disposition in the

corners of the upper triangle


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5.6 Color de disposition in the 5.6 DisposiciĂłn colores en las corners del of the lower triangle esquinas triĂĄngulo inferior

5.7 Color disposition in the corners of the left triangle

5.8 Color disposition in the

corners of the right triangle

The composition of the work is clearly formed in tone to a central vertical

axis perpendicular to the plane of the figure. The triangles are placed in a spiral, generating pairs of vectors in opposite directions and directions. If we consider the vectors in a mathematical way, we will obtain that the sum of them

creates a much larger vector in the center that balances the composition.

That is why we can say that this work is endowed with great dynamism, but

which in turn is balanced.


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Halbkugel um zwei achsen - Semi-sphere around two axes, 1977

(Sculpture)

In this work several of the postulates of the Gestalt that are intended to analy-

ze in the works of Max Bill are observed. The work consists of two quarters of black granite sphere resting on a re fl ective pedestal. Given the nature of the

pedestal, it can be considered that this does not belong to the work of art, sin-

ce it serves as a support for the sculpture, but with an interest to go unnoticed, by re fl ecting the environment that surrounds it. The size of the work is 39.5cm

x 39.5 cm. (Figure 5.9) 5.9 Semi-sphere around

two axes, Max Bill 1977

Image from the Catalogue Max

Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

In the first place, when analyzing the work, it is observed that the fi gure is

formed by two quarters of sphere, which are spatially equal. Thanks to these two repeated elements, the observer recognizes the elements more easily, since

by understanding one, he immediately understands the other. We can identify it

with the principle of similarity, which also helps explain why, despite understanding two different elements in the sculpture, it is perceived as a single piece.

The sculpture is understood as a part of a sphere, which despite not being

complete, the viewer is able to recognize in its entirety. Actually, only the two

quarters of the sphere mentioned above are visible, which intersect according

to two perpendicular axes. Therefore, we recognize here the Law of the Closing of the psychology of Gestalt. In spite of the fact that the outline of the figu-

re is not very closed, which usually hinders its recomposition, the two axes of

the sphere help to recognize it. (Figures 5.10 and 5.11)

5.10 Redrawing of

the global sphere


28

T he

form of

D esign 5.11 Redrawing of the global sphere

Being a sphere, although this is not complete, we recognize the principle

of pregnancy. Precisely because it is a pregnant form, it is easier to recogni-

ze at a glance. Possibly if the form was more complex, or it was a set of forms,

even if they were simple, the recognition and recomposition of the figure or figures would be complicated.

The fact that the sphere is recognized only by two quarters of it, and that the-

se are joined by perpendicular axes gives the composition of equilibrium (Fi-

gure 5.12). The axes, arranged in opposite directions, generate symmetry, and

therefore, the same ÂŤweightÂť is attributed to both sides. Therefore, although

the fi gure is not complete, and could tend to be understood as the union of

two separate elements, the perpendicular axes help to agglutinate the two pie-

ces, and that, in spite of being recognized as two different units, they do not separate and be able to manage to represent the whole of the fi gure in three

dimensions. These axes represent the balance of forces, they create a tension that helps the fi gure to be better understood by the spectator.

5.12 Perpendicular axes that

give balance to the composition

Therefore we can say that a dynamic piece is obtained again, but that it is

in equilibrium.


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Rounded-Squared table, 1950

(Furniture Design)

In the field of furniture design, a transformable piece is selected for analy-

sis, which is of great interest from the point of view of Gestalt principles. It is a

wooden table and linoleum, designed in 1950. The table, which is 74cm high,

offers two versions of itself: a round, with a diameter of 140cm, and a square, side 90cm. (Figure 5.13)

5.13. Rounded-square

table, Max Bill, 1950

Image from the Catalogue Max

Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

In the analysis of this case, we find that the two predominant forms descri-

bed above, a circle and a square, which is inscribed within the circle, predominate together in this work. Therefore, we can talk about a first conception of

the object in a mathematical way. Recall that one of the issues that Max Bill stu-

dies more in detail during his time in the Bauhaus are mathematics, which go-

vern much of his works. In this work we find great relevance of geometry and mathematics, not only to the naked eye re fl ected on the table top, but also in

the directions that mark the support legs.

The board combines two pregnantes forms, that despite being able to com-

pete between them and be able to end up subordinating one to another, they

are perceived in the same way and receive the same treatment. This may be

due to the fact that the square is inscribed in the circle, and therefore share

four points of its perimeter. In this way, the four points are particularly relevant,

as they are part of the two figures, visible when the table is extended, with a round shape, but also when folded, becoming the vertices of the square.

To support the table on the floor, it has four straight legs, placed obliquely

with respect to the board. It is really a same element repeated four times, which

we can understand as a principle of similarity. Thus this principle gives cohesion to this part of the design, and helps to understand it as a unit, despite being

composed of four different elements.


30

T he

form of

D esign

The elements are arranged facing two to two, obliquely to the board, crea-

ting stability. Four axes are obtained that diverge, but that obtain the balance

when dealing with pairs of elements facing each other. In this way, the composition is given tension, making it dynamic, but in a constant state of equilibrium,

easily perceived by the human eye.

Max Bill also pays attention to how board and support come together. In

this case, the support is placed towards the inside of the board, the joint being

hidden both when it is extended, since the board is larger, and when it is fol-

ded, since the pieces of circle that are collected cover it. In addition, this sup-

port rotates when the table is folded or unfolded, causing the placement of the legs to vary.

When the table is unfolded, and takes a round shape, the legs are placed

perpendicular to the sides of the square, making reference again to the tension with which Max Bill gives the work, but returning to achieve balance, fo-

llowing the Same guidelines discussed above, mainly the fact that the elements

are even and are facing each other. In addition, force tension is also generated

between the edges of the square of the board, and the axes of the legs of the table, since they are arranged perpendicularly. (Figure 5.14)

5.14 Table’s geometry when it has rounded shape. The

drawings show how we can find the same distance between floor and table board, than between table board and

the cone vertex, what gives

balance to the composition.

5.15 Tridimensional view of the volumes generated by the rounded shape table.


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If we analyze this variant of the table in a three-dimensional way, it is obser-

ved that the projections of the perimeter and the axes of the legs generate a

cylinder and a cone that surround the piece. As can be seen in the diagrams,

balance is achieved by having the same distance between the floor and the table top, that between this and the vertex of the projected cone.

On the contrary, when the table is folded and has a square shape, the legs

rotate and are placed at the vertices of the square. This achieves accentua-

te its vertices, and generate balanced stresses again. Three-dimensionally we

find that a pyramid and a prism are generated by projecting the perimeter’s legs guidelines. The vertex of the pyramid is the same as that of the cone, and

again, the balance created between the three planes is shown: floor, board and 5.16 Table’s geometry when it has squared shape. The

projected vertex. (Figure 5.16)

drawings show how we can find the same distance between

floor and table board, than

between table board and the

pyramid vertex, what gives

balance to the composition.

5.17 Tridimensional view of the volumes generated by

the squared shape table.

.

Because of this tension of forces that is present in all the elements of the de-

sign, it can be concluded that Max Bill creates a dynamic element, but in equi-

librium. (Figure 5.17)


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Poster for the exhibition konkrete kunst, 50 jahre entwicklung, 1960

(Poster design)

It is a linography on paper measuring 128x90cm, in which two parts are

clearly differentiated, thanks to the inclusion of color. A square of red perimeter is observed in the upper part, supported by a rectangle with a blue perimeter. Inside these figures there is a white background on which the letters of the

poster stand out in black. (Figure 5.18) 5.18 Poster for the exhibition konkrete kunst, 50 jahre entwiklung, 1960. Image from the Catalogue

Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

.

First, the form of the poster is analyzed. It is a triangle with a root propor-

tion of 2. As will be seen in successive analyzes, this proportion is recurrent in

Max Bill’s designs, including architecture. In addition to giving this proportion

in the poster as a unit, we also find it in the rectangle with a lower blue perimeter, formed by a root rectangle of two, to which is added a square identical to the one that originates that rectangle. (Figure 5.19)

5.19 Rectangles with a root proportion of 2 found in the geometry of the poster.

Analysis made over an ima-

ge from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

.

If we continue analyzing proportions, we find that the diagonal of the squa-

re generates a line whose direction indicates the placement of the written elements within the poster, if this line is placed as shown in the following scheme. (Figure 5.20)


34

T he

form of

D esign 5.20, Outlines delimiting the texts

of the poster. Analysis made over

an image from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

In this way, thanks to this direction, we find the beginning of the main text of

the upper square, as well as the main text of the lower rectangle.

If we place the same line in the lower right corner of the poster, and just the

opposite diagonal in the lower left corner of the square with red perimeter, we

will find a point through which a center circumference passes in the same left bottom vertex of the square with perimeter Red. This circumference cuts into a point on the side of the square by which a vertical line is drawn with which the

starting position of the secondary text of the red perimeter square is found. It

can be observed in the scheme (Figurs 5.20).

Once the proportions are analyzed, the color in this composition becomes

important. We can verify that there are two predominant colors, red and blue. Despite being different shades, the red color is brighter than the blue color, so visually, the blue color «weighs» more than the red color. We find here the

in fl uence of Josef Albers, who in his book «The Interaction of Color», wrote:

«The darkest [...] is visually the heaviest, or the one that contains more black or less white».

This statement is verifiable if we check what would happen if we alter the

colors of the poster, that is, if we make a negative version. As can be seen in

the diagrams, if we change the colors, a blue square would become too heavy,

and the lower red rectangle would not be able to «support» its weight. Howe-

ver, when the red color is arranged in the upper part and blue in the lower part, the weights are automatically counteracted, achieving a balance between the shapes and the color. (Figure 5.21)

5.21 Demonstration of

the weight of the colors used by their contrast.

Analysis made over an image from the Catalogue Max Bill

Fundation Juan March, 2015


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Poster for the exhibition pevsner, vantorgerloo, bill, kunsthaus zürich,

1949. (Typography design)

In this case the poster is made in a lithograph on paper, measures 100x70cm.

It is a poster with a black background on which white letters stand out with a typography designed by Max Bill, which will be analyzed. (Figure 5.22)

5.22 Poster for the exhibition pevsner, vantorgerloo, bill, kunsthaus zürich , 1949, Max Bill Image from the Catalogue

Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

Although what is intended to analyze is only the typography in this case, we

find, as in the previous poster, that the rectangle that forms the poster has a root

proportion of 2. In addition, not only is this proportion in the poster as a complete unit, but if we also analyze the lower part created with that proportion, we

find again a root rectangle of two, to which is added a square identical to the one that originates that rectangle. (Figure 5.23)

5.23 Rectangles with a root proportion of 2 found in the geometry of the poster.

Analysis made over an image

from the Catalogue Max Bill

Fundation Juan March, 2015

Once the proportions of the set have been analyzed, a complete analysis of

the typography of the poster is made. First, the position of the letters is analy-

zed with respect to the others, finding clear axes that delimit the height of the letters. (Figure 5.24)


36

T he

form of

D esign 5.24 Arrangement of the axes that determine the size of the typography

As can be seen in each of the lines of writing present in the poster, there is

a small variation between where letters begin and end, which gives dynamism to the composition.

However, these axes are repeated in each line, making the typography un-

derstood as unitary and unique, without modi fi cations of size in the poster.

If we analyze the letters more in depth, we find repetitions of angles, es-

pecially of 30º, 45º, and 60º, which generate numerous parallel directions.

If we start analyzing letter by letter, we will see that in many of them, double

30º angles are repeated, which are connected with those that have angles of 60º. A clear example would be the letters «E» and «V», which are essentially the

same strokes, but rotated in space. This makes these letters easily recogniza-

ble, since although they are different letters that do not repeat exactly the same

way, the repetition of the angles helps their understanding. (Figure 5.25)

5.25 Letters E y V

Another example of repetition of angles, in this case within the same letter,

we find in the «P». One creates, from three angles of 60º, an equilateral triangle, that we can consider a pregnant form, that causes that the letter is understood of simple form. (Figure 5.26)


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5.26. Letter P

.

On the other hand, we find letters with 45º angles, such as «N», «S» and

«Z». Turned symmetries are produced in them, which facilitate the understan-

ding of the forms. In addition, in the case of the letter «B», we find again the formation of a right triangle that endows the letter with a recognizable shape that

is recognizable to the naked eye. (Figure 5.27) 5.27. Letters Z, S y N

.

But despite all the similarities found between letters, with repetitions of an-

gles and directions, there are also exceptions. In this poster, we find two, one

in the letter «G» and one in the letter «K». In the first case, the lower part of the

letter is not parallel to the upper part, creating an angle of 50º, different from the

rest. This may be due to the need to fit the letters in the guides, giving priority to

the whole typography that the letter. In the case of the K we also find variations of angles, of 50º, 55º and 75º, again to fit the letter in the axes. (Figure 5.28)

5.28 Exceptions. Letters G y K

.

In short, we find that typography is based on repeated angles, which help

to speed up reading and comprehension.


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Exhibition of the swiss section in the Triennale de Milano, Italia, 1936

(Ephemeral architecture)

In the book «MAX BILL. DPA 17 «, we find a broad description of the work,

collected below:

«The exhibition was located on the ground floor of the Palazzo del Arte, in a

room adjacent to the rectangular lobby, 11 by 23 meters and 6.30 meters high,

with a side niche of 5 by 7 meters with the lowest ceiling ( 3 meters). [...] The

floor was oak parquet and whitewashed walls. The exhibition consisted of a selection of objects from the field of applied arts and industrial production. [...] The

disposition of the set is such that the visitor must necessarily pass before all the

exhibits. The architectural organization of space is achieved only with added

elements, designed to contain and display objects. The exhibition has the following parts: 1) entry, with the spatial element «Switzerland»; 2) three successive sections, the first dedicated to decorative arts and industrial objects, the

second to graphic arts, typography and photography, and the third section is

devoted to architecture; 3) a resting room.1) Entrance: it is separated from the rest of the exhibition by a photographic panel hanging from the ceiling. This

panel is composed of thirty photographic elements, 1 meter by 1 meter juxtaposed leaving a space between them: the set represents the Haute-Engadine

and Saint-Moritz. 2) Sections: the first of the three sections comprises, on the

left, a low showcase for the tissues; towards the wall on the right a curved dis-

play case containing jewelry, watches, fashion items, etc. Below is a column of

advertising posters. In the second section, on the left, a low display case contains books and printed materials; the typographical works are placed on the

right wall and the artistic photographs on the oblique panel. The third section

presents photographs of modern housing buildings in Switzerland. «

Max Bill narrates in an architectural way the routes he proposes with the ele-

ments he introduces into the project.

First, it introduces a series of very fine pillars with no structural function. It

is always the same element, whose repetition, according to the laws of Gestalt, helps its understanding, as well as serving as a guide for the pavilion. (Fi-

gure 5.29)

5.29 Tour created by the

repetition of an element.

Axonometry and plant used

as a base from the book DPA

17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona


40

T he

form of

D esign

We find them first to the left of the entrance, guiding the visitor directly into

the enclosure. However, this line of pillars is interrupted by a new line of pillars

perpendicular to the first, which allows observing what happens inside the exhibition, but in a veiled way, forcing the visitor to take a detour to access.

In turn, this vertical element is repeated in a disorderly manner to the right

of the entrance to the exhibition. This makes the access route is marked by these milestones, which gradually guide the visitor inside.

These elements mark the entrance, the beginning of the route. But we still

find one more element, a unique pillar inside the exhibition, which refers us to

those we met at the entrance, and which makes this tour take a presence inside the pavilion.

In this way, with the repetition of a single element, Max Bill gets on this oc-

casion to guide the visitor at all times, making visible a tour of the exhibition that apparently is non-existent.

In addition to this repeated element analyzed, Max Bill plays in this pavilion

also with the concave and convex forms. These curved shapes are repeated

again in elements that serve as a guide, both at the entrance and in the path, hanging from the ceiling, and also in the exhibition elements. Therefore, we can

also consider this fact as belonging to the Gestalt traits, due to the repetition, in this case, of forms. (Figure 5.30)

5.30 Route created by the

repetition of concave and convex elements. Axonometry and plant used as a base from the book

DPA 17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona

Continuing the analysis of compositional elements, we find a set of three

pilasters that serve as a pedestal to sculptural works. These pedestals form a

triangle in plan, being visible from all points due to the low height of the rest of the elements that we find in the pavilion. In this way, this triangular shape is

perceived by the visitor in a three-dimensional way, thanks also to the fact that it is a simple, pregnant form, which is more easily recognized. (Figure 5.31)


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5.31 Tour created by the

repetition of exhibition elements. Axonometry and plant used

as a base from the book DPA

17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona

Finally, an analysis of the pavilion is carried out as an architectural object,

paying special attention to the proportions of the building. These proportions

are the same as those already found in other works analyzed, specifically, rectangles with root proportion of 2.

Likewise, we find a proportion in the elements that make up the last band

of spaces of the pavilion, creating three equal rectangles, which give rhythm

to the composition and which make these proportions easily perceivable. This

proportion is re fl ected in the following schemes, both in the plant as a whole

and in parts of it. (Figure 5.32)

5.32 Rectangles with root

proportion of 2. Plants used

as a base from the book DPA

17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona


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Fleckhaus House, Odenthal, Alemania, 1960 - 1961

(Individual housing)

It is a detached house with two floors above ground and a basement, lo-

cated in the town of Odenthal, Germany. The material used is brick, facing the exterior of the house, and also in some areas of the interior. (Figure 5.33)

5.33. Photographs of the

Fleckhaus House.

Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

.

The two upper floors are analyzed, both individually and as a whole. On the lower floor, we find again the mathematical proportion that has been

analyzed in all the previous works, a rectangle of root proportion of 2. We find it on the ground floor, obtaining the approximate dimensions of the plant of the set. Likewise, if we only take into account the left part of the house, subdividing

it into four equal squares, it is verified that the addition of the porch is also in-

cluded in the proportion of the root rectangle of 2. (Figure 5.34)

5.34 Rectangles with root

ratio of 2 on the ground floor.

Plants used as a base from the

web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

.

Following the analysis of these proportions, on the upper floor we find it

again. Looking at the top of the plant, we see that the root rectangle of 2 reappears, including the width of the upper floor and also the chimney. On the

other hand, it is also observed that the upper floor is clearly divisible by three

equal vertical bands.

This repetition of proportions and bands makes the whole more easily un-

derstood, making the space easier to understand. Therefore, we find again this

repetition of elements, in this case of proportions, characteristic of the Gestalt.

(Figure 5.35)


44

T he

form of

D esign 5.35Rectangles with root ratio

of 2 on the ground floor. Plants used as a base from the web: TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

.

If the project is analyzed from a three-dimensional point of view, we conclu-

de that part of a single rectangular piece with root proportion of 2, pregnant and

easy to understand, which have been subtracted and added different pieces. In

this way tensions are created in different directions, which the blocks themsel-

ves compensate for each other. (Figure 5.36)

5.36 Analysis of subtractions and addictions that make up

the ground floor of the project.

.

These tensions occur horizontally, but also in vertical and horizontal opposi-

tion. Thus, the composition is achieved in equilibrium, both individually in each plant, as the three-dimensional set that forms. (Figure 5.37)

5.37 Three-dimensional analysis of the forces arising from the movements of the different

parts of the proposal, both as a whole, and isolated low floor

.


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Collective housing Cinevox with cinema, Neuhausen, Switzerland,

1957

(Collective housing)

The project chosen to analyze is located in Neuhausen Switzerland, and

was built in 1957. It consists of two clearly distinguishable elements. On the one hand, we find two blocks of houses, each with five floors, with a common

ground floor, to which is attached a movie theater, with approximately 350 seats,

by means of a covered porch. (Figure 5.38) 5.38 Photograph of the Cinevox

apartment building with cinema

in Neuhausen Switzerland, 1957. Image from the book : max

bill, pittore, scultore, architetto, designer,. BUCHSTEINER,

Thomas y LETZE, Otto, Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2006

.

Max Bill designed this project in its entirety, including the furniture, as shown

in the following image. (Figure 5.39)

5.39 Photograph of Max ill

supervising the construction of one of the cinema seats.

Web: www.ernst-

scheidegger-archiv.org

.

On this occasion we find again the proportion of the root triangle of 2. It can

be seen how it has been reconstructed in the plant, and how it fits into the sectioned axonometry. To be able to reconstruct axonometry, we have found the ratio between the true magnitude and the three-dimensional axes.


46

T he

form of

D esign

As shown the the proportion found ishallada 0.8 to 1esondethe y axis, and Tal y comoinse vediagram, en el esquema, la proporción 0,8 a 1 en el 0.82 to 1 on the x axis, while the proportion is still 1 to 1 on the z axis , the vertieje y, y de 0,82 a 1 en el eje x, mientras que la proporción sigue siendo de 1 a

way, it is possible to lower thees root rectangle ofel2 rectángulo in the planeraíz of the 1cal. en In el this eje z, el vertical.De esta manera, posible abatir de axonometry, in order to verify that this proportion is also present in this work. 2 en el plano de la axonometría, para así comprobar que esta proporción está (Figures 5.41enand 5.42) presente5.40, también esta obra. (Figuras 5.40, 5.41 y 5.42)

5.40. Rectangle with root ratio of 2 on the project floor

5.41, Scheme of flattened

planes of the lower axonometry, . showing the ratio ratios

between each of the axes and their true magnitude.

. 5.42 Base axonometry

from the book : max bill,

pittore, scultore, architetto, designer,. BUCHSTEINER,

Thomas y LETZE, Otto, Milán: Mondadori Electa, 2006

On it it is demonstrated, using

the proportions found previously in the scheme, the root

proportion of 2 of the project

.


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In addition to this proportion, it is also found that the square that make up

the spaces destined for public spaces is subdivided into 6 vertical longitudinal

pieces, which help to distribute the project. This repetition of elements helps

again to the understanding of spaces at a glance, which are understood as balanced and in order. (Figure 5.43)

5.43 Floor layout of the

spaces. Proportion of spaces in repeating bands

.

Another factor that makes the whole project understand as balanced is the

contrast of horizontal forces of the element of the cinema, and the vertical elements of the elements of the houses. In this way Max Bill manages to stabilize

the architectural proposal. (Figure 5.44) 5.44 Distribution of opposing forces in horizontal and

vertical that balance the

architectural proposal

.

If we take into account the external aspect of the project, we find in turn se-

veral repetitions of elements. In the first place, taking into account the cinema

envelope, the clear repetition of the constructive module is observed. In addition, these modules are not repeated elsewhere in the proposal, so they confer

a distinctive character to the cinema, which makes it possible to understand the function of the volume at a glance. Secondly, in the facades of the vertical

blocks of houses we find repetition of windows, terraces and balconies, giving unity to the whole.


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School of Ulm (Hochschule für Gestaltung), Ulm, Germany,

1950 -1955

(Public use building)

The school of Ulm was designed by Max Bill, and was built between 1950

and 1955. It was founded as a continuation of the Bauhaus School, with some

of its former teachers, and adding new approaches in the design, uniting diverse arts, including architecture, construction and even cinematography. The cu-

rriculum of the Ulm school was quite similar to the one we found at the Bauhaus school; in this case, it lasted four years. A first year of basic course, which was mandatory, to then continue with two years of specialization, and finish with a

year dedicated to the thesis. (Figure 5.45)

5.45. Photograph of

the School of Ulm.

Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

.

The inauguration of the school building took place on October 2nd, 1955. It

had extensive workshops for students and teachers, dormitories for students

and a cafeteria. The spaces were flexible to be able to dedicate themselves to

different activities. Nowadays the building is still in operation, being dedicated to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ulm. (Figure 5.46)

5.46.Photograph of the

School of Ulm.

Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

.


50

T he

form of

D esign

The building is developed in a linear manner, unfolding along a slope. In this

way we can distinguish two parts in the building. The first one is at a higher le-

vel, and contains classrooms and offices. As can be seen in the plant, the organization of the classrooms is repeated, finding on several occasions the same compositional and organizational scheme. (Figure 5.47)

5.47 Repeating elements of organization and furniture.

Plants used as a base from the web: www.urbipedia.com

.

Likewise, this part of the building has 6 patios that provide light to the inte-

rior. The shape of these patios is also repeated, finding three square patios in

the right area, aligned vertically. Similarly, in the left area there are three rectangular patios, also aligned vertically. All these repetitions give rhythm to the composition, and facilitate its understanding. (Figure 5.48)

5.48 Repetition of quadrangular and rectangular courtyards

Plants used as a base from the web: www.urbipedia.com

.

We also find the proportions of the root rectangle of 2. In this case, they are

more complicated to find, since the rectangles grow, and a root rectangle of 3

appears, as you can see in the diagram. (Figure 5.49)


A nalisys

of

M ax B ill ’ s

works

51

5.49 Rectangles with root ratio of 2 and root of 3.

Plants used as a base from the

web: www.urbipedia.com

.

At a lower level we find the second part of the building, less compact, and

with a linear development on the slope. First we find a piece that is shaped in

plan with a rectangular and a square. These two pregnantes forms are easily

recognizable, and although they appear intersected, their form can be unders-

tood with a simple glance. (Figure 5.50)

5.50. Plant as an intersection of pregnant shapes

Plants used as a base from the

web: www.urbipedia.com

.

After this initial piece, the project is developed through the repetition and

intercalation of workshop modules and student housing. These pieces are joined by connectors, which are fundamental for the journey to be made in spa-

ce. The route is completely linear, being necessary to go through each piece

to reach the next. The repetition helps to better understand the modules that

form the development, both in form and function, since having the same spatial characteristics it follows that what will be found inside will be similar. (Figures 5.51 and 5.52)


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5.51 Repetition of threedimensional elements.

Workshops and homes linked by connectors.

Base axonometry from the

web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

5.52 Repeating elements in

plan. Workshops and homes linked by connectors.

Plant used as base from the web: www.urbipedia.com

.

In spite of the repetitions of forms and modules, the project is not perceived

as static, since there are turns of pieces that create tensions in the composition.

These tensions are controlled, so Max Bill achieves an equilibrium dynamism.


6 Conclusions

Once the nine works belonging to the different facets of Max Bill as an ar-

tist have been analyzed, a series of conclusions can be obtained that were intuited in a brief way from the beginning, but that have been confirmed with the

analyzes carried out.

Max Bill can be defined as a multi-faceted artist in part thanks to the sta-

ge he spent at the Bauhaus School, where students studied in different workshops different arts, with professionally recognized teachers. These teachers,

great artists such as Vasili Kandinsky, Paul Klee or Josef Albers, reflect in their

own works the precepts of the Gestalt, so when developing and teaching their

classes, these same principles were transmitted to their students. In this way,

Bill absorbed knowledge of many different arts, but with principles common to all of them, which he would put into practice throughout his life.

The fact that these classes at the Bauhaus school were taught as workshops,

encouraged the students to interact directly with each other and with the tea-

chers, learning from each other and directly from the teacher. Therefore, by reducing the theoretical classes and increasing the practices, learning was faster and more effective.

In addition, the school advocated personal learning, in which students had

to re fl ect in order to understand the philosophy of each of the teachers.

It can easily be understood that the Theory of Gestalt, with the principles

of form, function, color and balance, was present in all these classes of the

Bauhaus school. They based learning mainly on the analysis of simple shapes

and basic colors, combining them and understanding the nature of each one.

This fact in fl uenced Max Bill in his professional career as an artist.

In all the analyzes carried out, clear evidences of elements that can be in-

cluded within the basic principles of Gestalt have been found. We find clear

examples of repetition of modules, similarities of form and function, symmetries,

basic and simple forms that can be recognized at a glance ...

However, those patterns that are repeated continuously in each and every

one of the works are those that are related to mathematics. Mainly they have

found proportions that are repeated and balance of vector forces. It could be

concluded that in all its aspects, Max Bill is a mathematical artist.


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All works have clear axes that direct the whole composition and also each

of its parts. In this way tensions are generated that make the works become

dynamic, that have movement, but when building always with opposing axes

and with pairs of forces, balance is maintained. In general, any location that

matches an element of the structure of an object introduces a stability element.

Max Bill usually displaces this coincident location with the structure, so that tensions and forces are perceived that would lead to imbalance, but that compensate by repeating them, or by having the forces counteract.

The proportion with which Max Bill works in his works mainly is with rectan-

gles of root of 2. It is a reason that the eye is capable of assimilating directly, understanding it easily and quickly.

This coupled with the predilection for clear and simple forms, makes the

works are understood perfectly and with not too much effort.

From all of the above, it can be deduced that we can effectively label Max

Bill as an artist belonging to the Bauhaus school who was clearly influenced

by the theory of Gestalt through the teachers he had during his academic period in Dessau.

6.1 Relation between the works that have been analyzed and the Gestalt principles that appear in them


Bibliography

Written bibliography ADORNO, Theodor. «Ästhetische Theorie». Frankfurt : Suhrkamp Verlag, 1970; Versión española: «Teoría estética». Madrid: Ediciones AKAL, 2004; 546 páginas. ALBERS, Josef. «Interaction of color». New Haven: University of Yale, 1963; Versión española: «La interacción del color». Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1996; 108 páginas. ARNHEIM, Rudolf. «Art and Visual Perception - A Psychology of the Creative Eye - The New Version». Berkeley, California: Univerity of California Press, 1954; Versión española: «Arte y percepción visual». Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999; 553 páginas. BILL, Max y GIMMIK, Karin. «Architecture Words 5: Form, function, beauty = Gestalt». Londres: Architecture Words, 2010. CARLO ARGAN, Giulio. «Walter Gropius y el Bauhaus». Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión, 1977. COMUNE di Milano. «max bill: pittore, scultore, architetto, designer». Milán: Mondadori Electa Spa, 2006. Se trata del catálogo de una muestra acerca del autor realizada en Milán en 2006, que contiene textos de Thomas Buchsteiner y Otto Lezte. El libro ha sido consultado en la biblioteca del Museo Reina Sofía de Madrid. DPA ETSAB. «DPA 17. Max Bill». Barcelona: Departamento de Proyectos de la Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, 2001. Se trata de un número monográfico que contiene textos de Max Bill, Claudi Alsina, Ton Salvadó, Josep María Guix, Bruno Reichlin, Franz Graf, Carles Marti y Joan Llecha. DROSTE, Magdalena. «Bauhaus. Bauhaus archiv». Berlín: TASCHEN GmbH, 1991; Versión española: «Bauhaus. BAuhaus archiv». Berlín: Bauhaus-Archiv Museum für Gestaltung, 2013; 256 páginas. FRANCISCONO, Marcel. «Walter Gropius and the creation of the Bauhaus in Weimar». Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1971; 336 páginas.


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FUNDACIÓN Juan March. «max bill». Madrid: Editorial Arte y Ciencia, 2015. Catálogo de la exposición sobre Max Bill, que contiene textos de Max Bill, Jakob Bill, Manuel Fontán del Junco, María Amalia Garcí, Karin Gimmi, Fernando Marzá, Neus Moyano y Guillermo Zuaznabar; 329 páginas. KANDINSKY, Vasili. «Cours du Bauhaus». París: Editions Denoël Gonthier, 1975. Versión española: «Cursos de la Bauhaus». Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1983. KOREN, Leonard y MECKLER, Wippo. «Graphic Design Cookbook». California: Chronicle Books, 1989; 142 páginas. Versión española: «Recetario de diseño gráfico». Madrid: Gustavo Gili, 2015; 144 páginas. LATNER, Joel. «The Theory of Gestalt Therapy», EEUU: Edwin C. Nevis, 1991. Versión española: «Fundamentos de la Gestalt». Madrid: Cuatro Vientos, 1999; 271 páginas. LUPTON, Ellen. y ABBOTT MILLER, J. «The ABC’s of Bauhaus, the Bauhaus and Design Theory». EEUU, Princeton Architectural Press, 1991. Versión en castellano: «El abc de la Bauhaus y la teoría del diseño». México: Gustavo Gili, 2002 WICK, Rainer. “Bauhaus-Pädagogik” Colonia: DuMont Buchverlag, 1982. Versión española: “La pedagogía de la Bauhaus”, Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 4 ed. 1998.


B ibliography

57

Digital resourses www.albersfoundation.org www.metalocus.es www.march.es

www.texnh.tumblr.com www.urbipedia.com

Origin of illustrations 1. Gestalt Psychology.

1.1 (Left) Image that represents figure-background duality. Web: www.ilu-

sionario.es

1.2 (Right) Three circumferences form the scene creating a triangle.

Web: alumnos.unir.net

1.3 Principle of pregnancy. LUPTON, Ellen y ABBOTT, J, The ABCs of [trian-

gle, square, circle]: The Bauhaus and design theory. Gustavo Gili, 1994 1.4 Principle of similarity. Web: alumnos.unir.net

1.5 Principle of proximity. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and visual perception. Ma-

drid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

1.6 Law of closure. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and visual perception. Madrid:

Alianza Forma, 1999.

1.7 Principle of symmetry Web: www.emaze.com

1.8 y 1.9. Balanced positions inside the composition structure. ARNHEIM

Rudolf, Art and visual perception.Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999

1.10 Balance and imbalance of black lines in white background. ARNHEIM

Rudolf, Art and visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

1.11 Perception of curves and straight lines in diferent compositions. AR-

NHEIM Rudolf, Art and visual perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

1.12 Simplified representation of a person. ARNHEIM Rudolf, Art and visual

perception. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1999.

2. The school of Bauhaus

2.1 Logo of Bauhaus. The syllabus of the Bauhaus. LUPTON, Ellen y AB-

BOTT, J, The ABCs of [triangle, square, circle]: The Bauhaus and design theory.

Gustavo Gili, 1994

2.2 Mixture of colors on paper. Albers’ class at Bauhaus’ preliminar Cour-

se. ALBERS Josef, The interaction of color. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 1996


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3. Max Bill

3.1 Max Bill’s as a student at the Bauhaus. Web: http://www.metalocus.e mx

3,2 Image of the School of Bauhaus. Web: http://www.vanguardia.com. 3.3 Max Bill at the School of Ulm. Web: http://dissenycv.es

3.4 Max Bill at the School of Ulm. Web: http://www.sanahujapartners.com

4. Objetives and methodology

5. Analysis of Max Bill’s works

5.1 12 groups of four in a white field, 1982. Max Bill. Fundación Juan March,

Catálogo de la exposición Max Bill, 2015

5.2 y 5.3. Squared figure made of triangles. Own elaboration.

5.4 Color disposition in the triangles according to the analisys that was

made. Own elaboration.

5.5 Color disposition in the corners of the upper triangle. Own elaboration. 5.6 Color disposition in the corners of the lower triangle. Own elaboration. 5.7 Color disposition in the corners of the left triangle. Own elaboration.

5.8 Color disposition in the corners of the right triangle. Own elaboration.

5.9 Semi-sphere around two axes, Max Bill 1977. Image from the Catalogue

Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

5.10 Redrawing of the global sphere. Own elaboration. 5.11 Redrawing of the global sphere. Own elaboration.

5.12 Perpendicular axes that give balance to the composition. Own elabo-

ration.

5.13. Rounded-square table, Max Bill, 1950. Image from the Catalogue Max

Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

5.14 Table’s geometry when it has rounded shape. The drawings show how

we can find the same distance between floor and table board, than between table board and the cone vertex, what gives balance to the composition. Own

elaboration.

5.15 Tridimensional view of the volumes generated by the rounded shape

table. Own elaboration.

5.16 Table’s geometry when it has squared shape. The drawings show how

we can find the same distance between floor and table board, than between

table board and the pyramid vertex, what gives balance to the composition.

Own elaboration.

5.17 Tridimensional view of the volumes generated by the squared shape

table.

5.18 Poster for the exhibition konkrete kunst, 50 jahre entwiklung, 1960. Ima-

ge from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

5.19 Rectangles with a root proportion of 2 found in the geometry of the pos-

ter. Analysis made over an image from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan

March, 2015


B ibliography

59

5.20, Outlines delimiting the texts of the poster. Analysis made over an ima-

ge from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

5.21 Demonstration of the weight of the colors used by their contrast. Analy-

sis made over an image from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March,

2015

5.22 Poster for the exhibition pevsner, vantorgerloo, bill, kunsthaus zürich

, 1949, Max Bill. Image from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation Juan March, 2015

5.23 Rectangles with a root proportion of 2 found in the geometry of the

poster.Analysis made over an image from the Catalogue Max Bill Fundation

Juan March, 2015

5.24 Arrangement of the axes that determine the size of the typography.

Own elaboration.

5.25 Letters E y V. Own elaboration. 5.26 Letter P. Own elaboration.

5.27 Letter Z, S y N. Own elaboration.

5.28 Excepcions. Letters G y K. Own elaboration.

5.29 Tour created by the repetition of an element. Axonometry and plant

used as a base from the book DPA 17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto,

ETSAB, Barcelona

5.30 Route created by the repetition of concave and convex elements. Axo-

nometry and plant used as a base from the book DPA 17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona

5.31 Tour created by the repetition of exhibition elements. Axonometry and

plant used as a base from the book DPA 17: Max Bill, Departamento de Pro-

yecto, ETSAB, Barcelona.

5.32 Rectangles with root proportion of 2. Plants used as a base from the

book DPA 17: Max Bill, Departamento de Proyecto, ETSAB, Barcelona

5.33. Photographs of the Fleckhaus House. Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTU-

RAL JUXTAPOSITION

5.34 Rectangles with root ratio of 2 on the ground floor. Plants used as a

base from the web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

5.35Rectangles with root ratio of 2 on the ground floor. Plants used as a base

from the web: TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUXTAPOSITION

5.36 Analysis of subtractions and addictions that make up the ground floor

of the project. Own elaboration.

5.37 Three-dimensional analysis of the forces arising from the movements

of the different parts of the proposal, both as a whole, and isolated low floor

Own elaboration.

5.38 Photograph of the Cinevox apartment building with cinema in Neu-

hausen Switzerland, 1957. Image from the book : max bill, pittore, scultore, ar-

chitetto, designer,. BUCHSTEINER, Thomas y LETZE, Otto, Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2006

5.39 Photograph of Max ill supervising the construction of one of the cine-

ma seats. Web: www.ernst-scheidegger-archiv.org


60

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5.40. Rectangle with root ratio of 2 on the project floor. Own elaboration.

5.41, Scheme of flattened planes of the lower axonometry, showing the ratio

ratios between each of the axes and their true magnitude. Own elaboration.

5.42 Base axonometry from the book : max bill, pittore, scultore, architetto,

designer,. BUCHSTEINER, Thomas y LETZE, Otto, Milán: Mondadori Electa,

2006. On it it is demonstrated, using the proportions found previously in the scheme, the root proportion of 2 of the project. Own elaboration.

5.43 Floor layout of the spaces. Proportion of spaces in repeating bands

Own elaboration.

5.44 Distribution of opposing forces in horizontal and vertical that balance

the architectural proposal. Own elaboration.

5.45. Photograph of the School of Ulm. Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL

JUXTAPOSITION

5.46.Photograph of the School of Ulm. Web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUX-

TAPOSITION

5.47 Repeating elements of organization and furniture. Plants used as a

base from the web: www.urbipedia.com. Own elaboration.

5.48 Repetition of quadrangular and rectangular courtyards. Plants used as

a base from the web: www.urbipedia.com. Own elaboration.

5.49 Rectangles with root ratio of 2 and root of 3. Plants used as a base from

the web: www.urbipedia.com. Own elaboration.

5.50. Plant as an intersection of pregnant shapes. Plants used as a base

from the web: www.urbipedia.com. Own elaboration.

5.51 Repetition of three-dimensional elements. Workshops and homes linked

by connectors. Base axonometry from the web:TÉCHNE ARCHITECTURAL JUX-

TAPOSITION. Own elaboration.

5.52 Repeating elements in plan. Workshops and homes linked by connec-

tors.Plant used as base from the web: www.urbipedia.com. Own elaboration.

6. Conclusions

6.1 Relation between the works that have been analyzed and the Gestalt

principles that appear in them. Own elaboration.


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The form of design. Influences of the Gestalt theory, due to the Bauhaus, in Max Bill’s works  

The form of design. Influences of the Gestalt theory, due to the Bauhaus, in Max Bill’s works  

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