Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Your turn #3


amanda said...

The amazing attention to detail is just unbelievable in Harper’s “Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible”, especially considering that it is printed. There is an incredible amount of fine detailing, particularly in the intricate blue trim which would have been impressive even if the book was hand painted. I am lead to believe that the reason why such care seems to have been put into this work was because the Bible was (and is today) the most widely read book in the world, and Harper’s would have been aware of such exposure. The whole design is whimsical yet structured, and also seems very liberated for such a serious work as the Bible, and you can see that most notably in the actual text of “Bible” on the cover; it is very free and almost flirtatious. There is a perfect symmetry throughout the entire cover page, to the point where one could fold it in half and it would be exactly the same except for the text and the figures in the blue border. As the caption states, this work is truly the “finest achievement of graphic design in America during the mid-to-late 1800's”.

A.T. said...

Yes, plus the incunabula factor!

Barry said...
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Barry said...
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Barry said...

I think that Howard Pyle’s illustrations are fantastic and they seem to be a radically departure from the illustration that we have looked at previously this term. The formal elements of line, shape, color, and space are used to communicate and reinforce the emotion of the narrative. Certainly technical advancement contributed to the development of these new kinds of graphic images. But it seems that the images themselves, in terms of freedom and expressiveness, are indicative of a whole new attitude toward graphic design.

It is significant that these images were created during an era of remarkable innovation. During Pyle’s generation the telephone, light bulbs, and the automobile were invented. This technical inventiveness was echoed in Visual art through Impressionism & Post-Impressionism with artists such as Cassatt, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet, Morisot, and Seurat.

The exceptional quality of these images raises a question regarding the distinction between illustration and fine art. Since we’re relying heavily on Wikipedia during our discussions, I’ll defer to it for definitions.

Pyle was an illustrator and he also taught illustration. Several of his students went on to become very successful as illustrators but others, including N.C. Wyeth, achieved success both as illustrators and fine artists. Wyeth stressed that there was a distinction between the two. All of his paintings were realistic but his illustrations are generally visually simplier so as to be understood quickly. In 1908, he said “painting and illustration cannot be mixed–one cannot merge from one into the other."

To complicate things further, fine artists like Winslow Homer, created amazing illustrations that also appeared in Harpers. He was sent to the battle lines to make illustrations of the Civil War. His prints certainly clearly capture what life was like for the soldiers but they also transcend this and are highly prized by fine art collectors today.

Even with a clear understanding of the difference in illustration in illustration and fine art it is a bit confusing to compare the work of some fine artists such as Mary Cassatt to the illustrations of artists such as Pyle, Wyeth, and Winslow Homer.

Gretel said...

Gibson images are great examples of design in the sense that they embrace many of the socio political elements of its time. The so popular Gibson Girl is the model of the woman in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He started a fascination with an idealized standard image of the American Beauty. Girls in elegant dresses, elaborate hair styles, slender hourglass figures and casual attitudes, became the prototype of the American woman, one everybody should try to emulate. In doing this, he was reflecting the way in which women were still regarded as masculine desirable objects. Many of his illustrations show girls in leisure scenes always surrounded by several men who pay attention to all of her movements, perhaps not so much to their words, in a manner that reminds the scenes by Rococo artists in which females were always surrounded by attentive men. No doubt this frivolous image vanished after World War II; at least for a while, women became somewhat less perfect and composed.

A.T. said...

Bary: No doubt, the distinction between illustration and fine art is a received (historic) notion. I cannot fathom Pyle’s ideas on the matter, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he was an artist, just as Gibson and -later- Rockwell. Is graffiti and art form? This year Basel Miami Beach is bringing a whole exhibition to Art Positions dedicated to Skate Board Culture. Go figure.

Zureyka said...

Randolph Caldecott was able to create a world where dishes and plates are personified, cats make music, children are at the center of society, and adults become servants. His comical style in drawings and illustrations became a prototype for children’s books and animated films that were to come after him. He was able to convey a sense of exaggeration in his characters on the way he would illustrate both people and animals in his work by their movements and facial expressions. This brought his stories to life that many artists and illustrators would somehow lack in their endeavors. Just by viewing his style in the pieces that he would create for children, one could see how he could be a major influence to illustrators today or even those after him. Many children books that were made, such as the Mother Goose stories, they had a certain quality about them that reminds me of Caldecott’s style when I was growing up. He was able to allow children to accept the exaggeration of expressions in each character and somehow make them real in his/her own imagination just by his illustrations alone. Since he was such an important influence in illustration, by 1937an American publisher by the name of Frederic Melcher asked the American Library Association to create an annual award honoring the most distinguished picture book published in the United States each year. Since this award was made possible by Randolph Caldecott, they named it the “Caldecott Medal”.

Natali said...

Art Nouveau

It was a century’s time, from the first cabaret in Paris of the late 18th century, until the mass marketing of the poster format exemplified by Henri de Toulousse-Lautrec’s “La Goulue au Moulin Rouge” and Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s “Tournee du chat noir.” Late 18th century France was no longer a feudal state, but a newly-fashioned republic of “liberté, equalité, fraternité,” turned upside-down by the Revolution, Robspierre’s Reign of Terror, and the ascension of Napoleon.

Then it was the parlors frequented by Diderot and Voltaire…now it was the bourgeoisie, looking to divert, distract, and entertain themselves after a long day of monotony in the factories of Industrially Revolutionizing Europe. After all, the ruling class of Rome knew that it was panem et circuses…bread and circuses…that kept the average Roman sufficiently preoccupied away from the true affairs of the state. It has been said that after the French Revolution, measures and concessions have always been made by politicians to ensure that something like another revolution in the vein of the French style does not happen again. Perhaps the law passed in Paris allowing public display of these new mass-produced posters just a decade before Lautrec’s and Steinlen’s enduring popular works was one of those concessions?

Jomar said...

As Amanda point’s out, Harper’s “Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible” is "unbelievable" in its attention to detail. However, it would be difficult to argue that it is also both, a testament to the immense developments and evolution of graphic design, but it gives a whole new meaning to the word “illuminated”. No longer was there a need to slaughter a large heard of sheep as in the medieval era, in order to begin the manuscript making process, but now it was not even necessary for the books to be hand-written and decorated with hand tooled precious metals and leather. I’m not sure I understood the reference to “the intricate blue trim” and how it some how might be less impressive if painted by hand, though. Granted it was 1300 years prior, and understandably in a much more primitive state, but it somehow seems to devalue the virtual slavery and endless time the monks and forefathers of “illumination” endured in putting together original Illuminated Manuscripts of the medieval era. I think the earlier work could just as readily qualify as “unbelievable” in no small part.

The need to “re-mix”, if you will, or modernize the “Illumination” of a “New Pictorial Bible” is consistent with the Victorian era’s resurgence in emphasizing strong moral and religious beliefs combined with an interest in the earlier medieval or Gothic design.

For Harper & Brothers, the illuminating no longer came in the way of gold leaf and hand tooled craft, but in masterful printing using the latest technology. The costs associated with using the latest technological advances had its limitations. The work was made available and sold in 54 sections of 28 pages each. The first section was sold with cover, and the proceeds therof, funded the printing of the next. A new section was issued every 2 weeks.

Unprecedented attributes of this masterpiece in print was the high number of illustrations with 1600 historical engravings and the half-titles, title leaves, and the presentation, birth, death, and marriage leaves are printed using colored inks. Tone-work in the engravings, made possible by the 'white line' method of the father of wood engravings, Englishman Thomas Bewick, was introduced here by Alexander Anderson (1775-1870), who trained Adams in the art. Joseph Alexander Adams was the first in America to use the electrotype process from woodcut engravings.

The Prospectus on the back cover of the first section stated the following:

“Complete in about 50 numbers at 25 cents. Harper's Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible. Embellished with Sixteen Hundred Historical Engravings, Exclusive of an initial letter to each chapter, By Joseph Adams [1803-1880], More than fourteen hundred of which are from original designs, by John Gadsby Chapman [1808-1889]. It will be printed from the standard copy of the American Bible Society, and contain Marginal References, the Apocrypha, a Concordance Table, List of Proper Names, General Index, Table of Weights, Measures, etc. The large Frontpiece, Titles to the Old and New Testaments, Family Record, Presentation plate, Historical Illustrations, and Initial Letters to the chapters, Ornamental Borders, etc., will be from original designs, made expressly to this edition by J. G. Chapman, Esq., of New York. In addition to which, there will be numerous large engravings, from designs by distinguished modern artists in France and England; to which a full index will be be given in the last number [not done]. The Great superiority of early proof impressions, from the Engravings, will ensure in those who take the work in Numbers the possession of it in The Highest State of Perfection”

1,361 chapters are in the Bible where are mostly each chapter is ushered in by Harper inserting a floriated letter to begin the Chapter or an image by John Gadsby Chapman [1808-1889]. 1,078 floriated initials beginning 1,078 of the verses, each letter a different engraving, meticulously adorning the work. Collector, Larry Walcutt, points out “there are 353 different A's, 210 different T's and 107 different N's, 1 V and Z and 3 R's and Y's.”

Considering all the work, attention to detail, and painstaking ornamentation it would be difficult to deny the connection to the medieval manuscripts, and see the evolution of the art. That said, I’d have to agree with it being both “illuminated”, as well as “unbelievable”.

This entry accounts for the second week's and this week's entry. I jumped at the opportunity to compare the Illuminated Manuscripts of the medieval era with that of the Victorian “Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible” by Harper & Bros. The comparison was easy and very evident despite the over 10 century time gap.

amy Poliakoff said...

During the Victorian era, chromolithographs populated children's and fine arts publications, as well as advertising art, in trade cards, labels, and posters. They were also once used for advertisements, popular prints, and medical or scientific books. Chromolithography unleashed the freedom in graphic design of the Victorian Era. This is clearly seen in carnival posters and graphic ephemera of the time period.

French graphic designer Jules Cheret designed over one hundred posters in his lifetime. His work clearly typifies the dynamic of Victorian Industrial revolution and advertising design. One of my favorite posters of French graphic design, Le Theatrophone displays Cheret's freedom of formal composition in his use of color, line and design. Bright and expressive colors dominate the page along with an independent female who wears black gloves. Her man waits in the background as she experiments with technology. She is listening to the theatrophone which was a distant ancestor of the jukebox. An early telephonic device, it was originally used to "broadcast" music from the Paris Opera. Anyone who inserted a coin could listen to the music through earphones. Although the beautiful subject is a picture-perfect Cheret, she is uncharacteristically wearing black gloves. A smart advertising technique, a beautiful female is portrayed as an independent woman being enriched by the music of her time period. Her man waits in the background as she finds herself through music.

This poster is a fabulous advertising technique but also a statement toward women that music brings liberation and knowledge. Cheret's work is freed from the technical restraints of letterpress printing and displays fanciful ornamentation and lettering. It may not be Cheret’s intention, but his low cut dress shown on his females elongated figure helps to exemplify the seductive undertones associated with the independent educated woman.

Mariajose said...
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Mariajose said...

The following is my last week comment:

The Pencil of Nature by William Henry Fox Tlabot was the first book with photographic illustrations. Entirely illustrated with 24 calotype prints and text outlining his experiments which led him to the earliest photography we know today. It is true that” an image speak a thousand words”, The Pencil of Nature is an example of this. Many if not all our books today are influence by this; we have text and pictures so it gives an actual true exmple, credability, and also it is easier to remember. Pictures are associeted with truth, realism and evidence. Nowadays we use photographs for everything; they are use as identification, advertisement and news, medical, scientific and astral photographs, as well as personal memories from our family and trips. Photography has a huge impact in Graphic Design and opens a new visual culture. As we been discussing in class everywhere we look there is a visual image trying to get our attention and persuading us.

This week comment:

Thomas Nasts is recognized as a leading master of the American political cartoons. After Civil War, illustration and caricature excited the readers. Nast had the opportunity to work in America at Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper’s Weekly and was the creator of the most remarkable American symbols. He created the elephant as the symbol for the Republican Party, the donkey for the Democrats and the image of Santa Claus we know today. Using the impact of his slogan and symbols he demonstrates his cartoonist’s creativity and attracted visually his political enemies. Nast used his art to show the Nation a picture of how things could be. Depending on the audience cartoons tent to be humorous, exaggerated, satirical and even serious, as well as informative. These are reactions that you want to convey as a graphic designer. You want to make people think and get their attention. I think that in any graphic you do, you need to be certain what message you want to “say” and Thomas Nast for me has that for sure.

mitch blessing said...
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Paul said...

I found it pretty interesting that, Work, by Ford Madox Brown, was trying to convey the whole Victorian Social system. The Victorian era, which was in the UK from 1837 to 1901, during the industrial revolution, was kind of a break away from the previous way society worked through strict social classes such as the aristocracy and the church. This painting shows the dramatic increase in middle classes workers, digging a system of underground tunnels. There are only a few upper classes depicted in the painting, which follows the trend of the rising middle class during the revolution through the Victorian era. Brown was primarily influenced by William Hogarth, who included political satire themes throughout his work.

Luis Ernesto said...

In response to A.T.

Whether or not graffiti is an art form is a difficult nut to crack. Graffiti is a multi-faceted endeavor with many purposes other than the aesthetic, but it is safe to say that certain styles of graffiti truly merit consideration as a complex and sophisticated art form (notably the complex 3-D “pieces” of today). Graffiti and skateboard culture, I believe, are in the forefront of a design and aesthetic revolution that is taking place today. Artists such as Shepard Fairy, 123 Klan, Mike Giant, FAILE, Barry McGee, and Jeremy Fish are selling-out shows in renowned galleries and are commissioned as Art Directors for a plethora of publications and projects. Essentially, street art and graffiti, like all art forms, emerged as a response to the status quo, and has come to symbolize a way of thinking and a moment in time.

Luis E. Piñol

mitch blessing said...

I owe the group three comments. No excuses, just very distracted. That said, I have been enjoying the class and the reading. I have studied History of Modern Design before, as taught by a sculpture professor. We began where our last class left off: the Victorian aesthetic, a loving embrace of all things industrial and new along with the pangs of realization that there must be something of value worth rediscovering and preserving.
The first two examples from my other class were the Iron Bridge, in England, an erector set style riveted steel construction that presages L' Tour Eiffel, and the Crystal Palace, a genius of modular design. It was the system of exhibition halls designed and preconstructed of steel and glass panels for the world exposition in England.. where all the bizarro furniture from our class example was put on display.
The I-beam construction is still the dominant form today, and the modular, mobile, and provisional nature of building, display, and "event" planning/creation is alive and well. Just think of the tents that go up on the beach for fashion shows, trade conventions, and my favorite: ArtBasel in December.
I find it impossible to revisit these historical events and ideas in design without immediately relating it to my surroundings and my peers today. Half of my art comrades in my undergrad school were "lost" to us by the influence of trade show design, which encompasses the design and construction of 2D images, posters, lettering, and paint schemes as well as 3D modelling of booth spaces, walls and sconces.. all of this for a two day and then throw it all away event in the (your town here) convention center, anywhere in the world. Fancy furniture still finds its way to display in expo palaces, though they are more plastic than crystal today. What could we rediscover and preserve now, in the Bushtonian era?

I went Bowling last night and a collegue of mine was commenting on the fascination, mechanization, and beauty of the machines that reset fallen pins after every roll. We recalled an old B+W footage of the "olden days" (as I used to call them when I was a child) when sturdy men in dirty clothes attended to the same function by hand, occasionally sneaking in a quick cigarette between frames. The footage showed a mind-boggling sequence in which the movements of such a worker were blurred by the speed, system, and accuracy with which he performed his menial task. This set me to thinking about the ever-evolving relationships between humans and their innovations. If neccesity is the mother of invention, as we saw over and over in the short history of printing from the illustrated manuscripts to the Linotype 5, then each innovation creates a whole new wave of neccessities. Displaced skilled laborers, who have learned their trade through generational expertise and training, are in need of a purpose and a paycheck the moment a system is created that renders their skills obsolete. We haven' moved past that example from our history book. My great grandfather rode a horse and never saw a television, grandma had an old jeep and couldn't program her vcr, my dad can't retouch photos but learned to use a desktop and email late in his carrer, I have no idea how to program the webpages I am using.. but strangely, I know how to shoe a horse.
I don't know where this is going. Is there something wrong with me?

THREE: not quite done with inventions..
You know, in the sculpture studio, my professor and I just finished a very rustic little machine with an electric gear motor, three drive belts running through nine pulleys, and about eighty pounds of steel tubing. It took days to make and, even though we salvaged much of the material, it coust us several hundred dollars. All it does is hold a hollow mold in its center and turn it over and over in a random pattern of directions. It kind of looks like the gyroscope machine they strap astronauts into for anti-grav simulations. Until now we have been turning our molds by hand. It is quite a workout, and only after many mistakes, we figured out how the speed and style of turning that yielded the best castings.
It reminded me of the Paul Bunyan story of the coming of the steam train and the chainsaw to the great mid-Western forests. Paul, the giant lumberjack and his giant blue ox, challenged the little man with the saw and train to a contest, which they lost and it almost killed them. Why do you think this Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan (or Casey Jones, or Pecos Bill, etc.) were told, written, and YES illustrated for generations? This is the story of the monk replaced by the typewriter.
Like Paul's two-bladed axe, each innovation is a miracle and a wonder, beautiful to behold, but it is a robot set to conquer humanity. It is our Sci-fi nightmare scenario.. both ludacris and serious. I don't have to turn molds by hand anymore, but I have to do something to keep busy and stay healthy right?
My arms are softer now.. I think I'll have to make more molds, sell more work, make more money, and get others to do my work for me, so that I can pay for my membership to Lifetime Fitness and get a personal trainer to tone up these saggy arms again.

John said...

I think if you remove notions of vandalism from graffiti, it definitely represents another form of artistic endeavour. Going back to some of the first recorded pieces of graffiti in Greece and Rome, the messages and caricatures scratched into the walls were just as political as the caricatures drawn by Nast.
The word Graffiti comes from the Latin word for scratch, or to reveal hidden layers from scratching and the first bits of graffiti were correspondingly primitive. But just as we moved from hand printed scrolls to the aesthetically pleasing Harper's Illuminated Bible, we move from the era of scratching to paints and spray cans and aesthetically pleasing murals.
Interestingly, as printing methods allowed for prints to be avialable in greater numbers, artist like Fairely and maybe more notably Banksy have made use of stencils. Before moving into the street, they'd prepare a series of stencils, sometimes in the same fashion as silk screen stencils, and would then use them to rapidly reproduce their work on many surfaces through out the city. The stencils also allowed the artist to exactly restore their work if the spot had been white washed.

JeannaHamilton said...

This is my post from last week:

Silver Nitrate in Photography and Film

As a motion pictures major, looking at Paul Nadar’s silver prints immediately made me think about the silver nitrate prints of early motion pictures. From Muranu’s “Nosferatu” to Robert Wiene’s “The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari”, some of the most memorable of all classic films before 1930 were captured on silver nitrate. Stars like Lillian Gish, Rudolph Valentino and Sarah Bernhardt might not have achieved their legendary star status without the luminosity and ethereal presence that silver nitrate on cellulose lent its early stars/starlets. This made me wonder, with the clarity and glow of the silver nitrate print, why did artists abandon it?

This inquiry can be applied to both the still frame, as Talbot’s first “photogenic drawings” were bonded with mixtures of silver nitrate and silver chloride, as well film as a moving frame. Silver nitrate lent its subjects an immortality and 3rd dimension that later film acetate stocks fell short on. So why did acetate eventually replace silver nitrate?
The answer is actually very simple. Silver nitrate’s difficult preservation, and more importantly extreme flammability related cellulose, made it an economic and creative liability.
The International Federation of Film Archives cites nearly 90% of all films produced before 1930 were lost through the recycling of silver, decay from improper preservation techniques, or vault fires. With countless stories of destroyed prints and devastating fires it’s no wonder that the long-term stability, and general safety associated with acetate won over the medium. However, even tri-acetate has its faults. Film preservationists have noted color loss, shrinkage, and a distinct smell of vinegar that permeated acetate preservation houses over time. Not to mention the loss of nitrate’s unique aesthetic properties such as the luminous sparkle due to the raw silver content, and a greater range of blacks and grays that films seemed to lose when transferred to acetate.

So here’s the broader question that can be posed to an artist in any given medium:
Do we compromise that special intangible connection that a viewer can experience with art for a stability and longevity that will preserve the work for posterity- or do we create something magical that we know won’t last? Something to think about.

shelby said...

Comment 1:

As much as the Harper's illuminated Bible is an astonishing new achievment in design for the time, there is no comparison of Harper's to the hand drawn illuminated manuscripts of the middle ages as well as during the Renaissance. There is a certain appreciation for the ornate detailing in the earlier manuscripts; artists sat inscribing each specific detail by hand, devoting endless time to create such a beautiful masterpiece. There is something so pure about that in comparison to the technological advancements of the printing press. As great as technology is, I almost prefer the raw quality of the earlier manuscripts to the printed, flat quality of Harpers. However, understandably so, the demand at the time for mass production of media takes precedence over manual labor.

Comment 2:

As we discussed Thomas Nast’s accomplishments as the best political cartoonist of the 19th century in America, it is important that we also mention the French master draftsman, Honore Daumier. Both artists successfully use satirical political cartoons to illustrate and poke fun at the current political situations of the time. These political cartoons are in some ways a form of propaganda. Even though they are political “cartoons,” and when we think cartoons, we assume they have no truth to them as they serve to entertain, however that is not the case with these. They are meant to inform and even persuade the audience. These satirists were the best of their time because they successfully conveyed a message to the reader. In design, the artist or communicators job is “having the material on the page read and absorbed” (White 1). Both Nast and Daumier were the best at doing this and innovative in that they used humor and satire.

shelby said...

In response to A.T.’s question about whether or not Graffiti is considered art…it’s a form of expression for many so, in that way, yes it is art. Now-a-days im not so sure there is a differentiation of what we consider art. Im currently taking “Drawing 2.” I am a studio art major, yet my talents lack in drawing and illustration. So for me, I was dreading this drawing 2 class. However, it turns out that its more of an abstract expressionism class. At first I was skeptical. Our first day of class was difficult. Tools: anything, medium; paint, charcoal, and chalk. Ready. Set. Go. All of the students in my class just stared at this large white canvas in awe and confusion. But, by the end of class we had executed a number of finished products. When we ask if Graffiti is art, we also ask if the work of Jackson Pollock is art. The answer to both of those questions is yes. Why? Simply because it is a form of expression. Expressing our emotions, thoughts, and feelings is natural. Graffiti is just another vehicle of this expression. For some of us, its writing, painting, drawing, designing, film, etc.

Andrew said...


The beginning of anything is interesting and photography is no exception. Louis Jacques Daguerre's "Paris Boulevard" combines nature with people for the first time in history. Slow exposure is the only reason there aren't more people in this daguerreotype. There would of been several people riding by in wagons and carriages. Daguerre perfected his process by inventing a picture-making machine. It was one of the first film making type processes. With this kind of detail and depth it's parallel to an old black and white photo. Daguerre's process involved making a picure but it was not film. Film wasn't invented until the 1860's. It was made of a base relief of mercury and silver compounds that varied in intensity. The best part of this slow-exposure daguerreotype is that there are only two still people on the street corner. There presumably would have been people riding by in wagons and carriages that weren't captured.


During the mid-1800's the Harper brothers created a monumetal book that is still considered one of the biggest achievements in graphic design as well as book production. Harper's Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible, with sixteen hundred engravings and initial letters to each chapter, issued in fifty-four parts, twenty-eight pages each, at twenty-five cents a piece. It is said that the illustrations cost $20,000 before publication. It is probable that this was the reason for the part issue, as this method would attract more purchasers. As the Bible is a book which receives much use and is not lightly laid away on a shelf or overlooked on a coffee table, it is quite understandable that the part issue would be bound up by the purchaser. This would account for the great rarity of Bibles in parts. The design of the cover alone was revolutionary and stood alone at this time. The symmetric layout as well as the complexity of the graphics were both new and inventive


Thomas Nast was a Radical Republican. Nast was a fierce supporter for the Union cause who skillfully used allegory and melodrama in his art to support the cause he believed in. In 1873 he undertook a lucrative cross-country lecture tour billed as "The Prince of Caricaturists" and the "Destroyer of Tammany Hall." Sometimes he drew backwards directly on boxwood printing blocks with a soft pencil. His heavy use of cross-hatching provided tonality for the black and white drawings. One critic has noted that Nast was the first cartoonist to have the advantage of weekly publication in a magazine. Several circumstances caused a rapid decline in Nast's notoriety and fortunes. One was the transformation of American society after the Civil War. Party politics shifted and both Democrats and Republicans had scallywags in their ranks. Immigrants and women became more literate and their purchasing power grew. He eventually found himself out of step with the changing times and switched to another profession.


Owen Jones's "The Grammar of Ornament" was originally published in 1856. This book is one of the holy grails of art reference books. In the 112 oversize chromolithographic plates, Jones collects representative samples of ornamental design from all over the world. It's an enyclopedia of pattern, contrasts and color harmony, with an almost mathematical perfection of form, never seen before. These specific designs resemble a view you could only get using a kaleidoscope, which was already invented at the time. The patterns and consistancy are so precise a person could assume they were from a more current pattern of the 1960's. These innovative graphis provided a flood of color and new visuals to the industrial revolution using chromolithography. This technique was the first method for making true multi-color prints. The Grammar of Ornament has been reprinted over the years, but none of the reissues match the original printings for image quality.

AlexLee said...

1: Its funny to think that graphic design has been around for so long in an age where things are run by computers and technology. But graphic design has been around forever. I never realized that from cave paintings to Egyptian cuneiform was actually graphic design as well. Being a graphic designer myself it is interesting to see the rich history this art has and how much it has evolved from the beginning. From printing on papyrus to using Photoshop and other programs to be able to create complex designs and manipulate photos. The progression is incredible. And seeing where it all started is hard to believe. My grandfather was a graphic designer as well. He would have to draw everything from scratch. Creating pieces would take hours and ever more time consuming would be the edits after client presentations. These days those tasks are handled in a matter of seconds and multiple presentations could be executed in a much shorter and easier process.

2: In my designs it is required that I am aware of my use of typography. Choosing fonts and the size of fonts can very much decide the mood or feel of a piece. Certain fonts can make things appear more serious while other fonts can allow a piece to become more playful and fun. Bolding and sizing can also very much change the tone and distinguish importance.

Another thing that has evolved tremendously is print. From having to write on clay tablets to being able to shoot out multiple copies out of a printer is how far we’ve come. Mistakes on scrolls and books would result in starting over but now like the design process errors are easily corrected and forgiven.

AlexLee said...
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AlexLee said...

3: A lot of the graphic design during the renaissance period was about type design, page layout, ornaments, illustration and the total design of the book. This attention to details made the books what they were. Part of the reason why these books were so successful was there legibility. The space between the letters create a clear and easy to read layout.

For me this all applies. When creating newsletters, books, brochures or anything involving a large amount of text this is all very important. Being able to present the text clearly and including pictures is not always as easy as it sounds. It is also crucial how you present the text in a way that the reader is intrigued to learn more and not intimidated my massive text or gets bored before they finish reading. Cramming too much information in one page is not good but neither is putting not enough and being able to do so tough.

AlexLee said...

4: The Industrial Revolution made a huge impact on the world of graphic design. At this point handicraft was disappearing and losing its job to machines and factories. It was also the time and period in which the invention of photography was created as well as the printing of photography as well. Visual documentation and pictorial information were also in this period. During this time artist became more creative with fonts and started to explore the different paths they could take with it. Advertisings on poster and products also blew up and suddenly colorful interesting ads were everywhere. With the invention of printers things were easily reproduced and sent out into the world in no time.

Having the modern technology we have with computers and Internet is tough to think about how things were back then if you were the one creating these ads and being a graphic designer. It does help you to appreciate the way things are now.

5: In the 20th century of design artists begin to explore even further. Birthing the disciplines of architecture, fashion, graphic and product design. This was a crazy time and so many different things were happening especially from a design standpoint. Without these times life would be very different.

Two summers ago I worked for a guy who was in charge of installing security units for buildings and it was my introduction to the program AutoCAD. This is the main program that architects use in creating blueprints. With this experience I can only imagine the process it was back then and how frustrating it had to have been.

JeannaHamilton said...
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JeannaHamilton said...

The debate about whether graffiti is an art form as come up in many of my previous studio art classes, and the greater question of how do we define art has been brought up in every art class (studio and history) I’ve ever taken. So, I’d like to comment on A.T.’s question on graffiti as well.

I see graffiti as a means of leveling the art field. The cityscape is a graffiti artist’s open canvas for leaving his/her “tag”, “mark”, or “art” on. Under Shelby’s definition of art as any vehicle of expression, graffiti indefinitely qualifies as an art form, but what delineates a “tag” from “art”? Are both legitimate expressions of emotion?

From a social standpoint, graffiti (to me) represents a rejection of current social expectations for artists and a nonconformist approach to modern art forms. Graffiti artists have taken to the streets, abandoned the plain white walls of an art gallery for a Municipal buildings, tube tunnels, and the general public domain. Subsequently a viewer need not visit an art gallery to witness the graffiti artists’ work. The viewer is subjected to graffiti on the way to work, shopping for groceries, or walking their dog. I admire the accessibility of this new art form, but this also carries an air of coercion. The viewer is subjected to graffiti whether they care for it or not.

Personally, I feel torn between accepting graffiti as a legitimate art form and it’s additions to modern graphic design, and resenting it as a disrespect for legitimate architects and general authority.
I recently returned from the spring semester in Prague, a city known for the beauty and range of its architecture. Spared from the bombings of WWII, the ally forces recognized the necessity of preserving a city that spawned the first cubist artists, was the center of Holy Roman Empire during the 14th century, and the home of Czech native Alphonse Mucha’s art nouveau musings. Imagine walking the same cobblestone streets that Kafka walked. The narrow alleys are completely preserved in time, a living museum, but everything within arm’s reach of the street has graffiti on it. Some of it stencil and calligraphy, but the majority just layers of unidentifiable tagging.

However the era of Kafka has come and left, and aerosol spray paint became available to the average consumer in the 1970’s. If art reflects culture, perhaps our current culture prefers the convenience and illicit nature of a spray can to a marble slab. As we enter an era of globalization, the art world, too, in many ways has been leveled. Someone with enough money to buy a spray can from the local hardware store, can share the same space as modern accomplished architects like Frank Gehry, and Antoni Gaudi, as well as the artisans and architects that shaped our cathedrals and temples of antiquity. Whether this is an advancement or a deterioration of the art world is debatable.