On Art and Design

In connection with the first international issue of KUNSTforum, the editorial can be read here. 

HAiKw/ Toril Johannessen, "Unlearning Interpretations" Foto: Nii Odezenma

HAiKw/ Toril Johannessen, “Unlearning Interpretations” Foto: Nii Odezenma

Welcome, dear reader, to the first international issue of KUNSTforum – also the first edition designed by Anette L’Orange of design bureau Blunderbuss. On the occasion of relaunching this eight year old magazine with new format, design and layout, we decided that the renewed KUNSTforum should be dedicated to the convergence of “art” and “design”.

We’ve chosen a broad interpretation of these words. In his 1962 essay The Shape of Time, art historian George Kubler proposed an expansion of the concept of art to include all (desirable – as all crafted things inevitably are) man-made objects in order to better chart the development of human civilization. Bruno Manari, author of Design As Art (1966), defined the designer as “a planner with an aesthetic sense” – and in this magazine one will learn that today’s designers are planning all manner of user experiences, from smartphone apps to reception centres for rape victims.

Furthermore, Munari seems to be of the opinion that art (devoid of utility) is pure nonsense. In stark contrast, in the very magazine, Carl Abrahamsson defends useless forms of art in his essay Art vs. Design. He may be correct when speaking of his own view as an anachronism, but his point is nonetheless valid – it’s about the importance of allowing for a creative realm where the focus can be turned inward, delving into the unconscious in order to express something significant, rather than committing the entirety of our collective cultural consciousness to making and utilizing “de-signified”, high-tech consumer articles.

In the following pages, we are introduced to designers working within the context of contemporary art, contemporary artists who have studied design and cooperative projects between artists and designers. We gain insight into the sculptural practice of Swedish artist Gustav Nordenskiöld and its connotations with weapons and other everyday objects. In other cases, we focus on architecture-related subjects and standardized formats (artist Knut Henrik Henriksen), or objects made to (or allude to) being worn – as in the collaboration between artist Toril Johannessen and the design collective HAiKw/, as well as in the art of Tone Vigeland, which fluctuates between jewellery and installation art. Dealing with the human body in a quite different way, sculptor and performance artist Lea Gulditte Hestelund builds her own body, inspired by a kind of “ancient photoshopping” of antique sculptures. In the historical part of the magazine, the legacy of romantic landscape painter Peder Balke is traced far into modernism and the Scandinavian Design movement, and we are shown similarities between the eclectic animal ornamentation of the Iron and Viking Age and surrealism, H. R. Giger’s nightmarish sci-fi visions and Terence McKenna’s machine elves.

Artist Håkon Holm-Olsen provides an exciting recap of his intense, ongoing comic series about Hilma Af Klint and her anthroposophic adventures through time and space on the page opposite, and a few pages later we are told how several comic artists today are using their medium (somewhere in the borderlands between art, design and literature) to convey the life stories of famed artists in new ways. Now read on…

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