Splash art originated in the 1940s in comics, where the term referred to a full page of visuals at the front of a book. Pages were designed to engage the reader's imagination along the lines of the comic's broader concept, while standing independent from the narrative. In the late 1990s, when the widespread use of the application Flash opened up new possibilities for animation and interactive media, the idea of the splash page migrated to web design. Online splash art brought visual excitement to a webpage when low modem speeds made it impractical to post large or moving images amid a site's textual content.

Rhizome introduced splash pages to its web site in 1998 in order to display artwork with greater immediacy....

Launch Project

splash art by Robbin Murphy, 1997/1998
Robbin Murphy's splash art is a version of his work Osiris, a grid of twenty rectangles that slowly change color in various groupings. The color of the background shifts, too. It is a color study executed with the limited palette of the internet in the mid-1990s. There are no texts, buttons or links; the page simply invites contemplation of formal qualities. Murphy is artist and writer who currently teaches course on information systems at New York University's department of art and art professions.