Friday, February 6, 2009

Your turn #3


Nicky said...

The post that I am most struck by is the cartoon series drawn by Thomas Nast. In the past, people heard the word cartoon and immediately thought of the visual media that entertains young children. We sometimes forget that even though the world associates the word cartoon with children, they have been used as effective communication tools in the "grown up world" as well.

Thomas Nast used his political cartoons as a means to express his discontent with William Tweed, the corrupt leader of New York City at the time. Harper Brothers was asked to fire Nast for his campaign and even offered to buy him out, but he refused. Triff's posts about Nast reminded me of Daumier's Gargantua (1825). Daumier used his caricatures to comment on social and political issues in France during his time. He was actually imprisoned for six months following the release of Gargantua which focused on the incompetence of the king and the French government. In recent years cartoons have played a large the political scene, especially in the most recent election. Most memorably, the caricature of Barack Obama on the cover of the New Yorker. It's amazing that simple cartoons can have such power, but it is a most effective media outlet because it brings social issues down to the level at which the public can easily understand them.

I was also surprised to realize that most of our beloved icons stemmed from cartoons created by Thomas Nast including Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, the Democratic donkey, and the Republican elephant.


New Yorker Magazine Cover:

CardM said...

The image up for camera obscura reminds me of the safe way to view solar eclipses by poking a hole in a box. Just today, I learned in physics that the camera obscura (pin-hole) process of photography is still in use today, just not for drawing. Pinhole cameras can be used to photograph high-energy X-rays and gamma rays from the sun. Today's pinhole cameras on space vehicles use multiple pinhole optics. The last 20 years the pinhole has also been used widely by nuclear physicists to photograph high energy in laser plasma (Renner 1995:21).

I read up a little on the first Pin Up women credited to Gibson because when I hear pin up I immediately think Betty Page and Playboy. Gibson girls, of course, were based on the women of his time like. Camille Clifford, a stage actress, was the most famous of his models. Although I found his drawings to have been stylized, photographs of Camille revealed a shocking realism to the female figure. I just wonder how well these beautiful figures held when the corsets came off.

Michelle Siegel said...

The artist that struck me most was Howard Pyle. I think Pyle’s understanding of using color to influence composition and movement in a picture is amazing especially as one of the “first illustrators to embrace and understand the new four-color printing process”. In both examples shown, “No Haid Pawn” and “The Flying Dutchman” Pyle uses spots of red against muted backgrounds to draw the viewer’s eye into the characters. The waves in the top, and the staircase and drapery white highlights in bottom, circle your eye throughout the frame. Pyle not only creates fluid composition through color but also pays close attention to detail in order to balance the frame. In “No Haid Pawn” Pyle balances the heavy cliff, sun, and figures, with the larger open space and strategically placed jumping fish. In “The Flying Dutchman” details such as the fallen chair and clock hold the viewer in the frame. Having both pieces fully textured, influenced by post-impressionist painters, heightens the feeling of unsettled constant movement, which I think lends well to his dramatic subject matter. I also like how in “No Haid Pawn” the Japanese influence is evident. Overall I think Pyle’s understanding of the basic rules of design enhanced his dramatic illustrations, which further contributed to the stories they supplemented.

Eric Lichtenstein said...

While reading the post on Victorian Art, I started to think about how art movements are influenced by the eras in which they occur. Victorian Art emerged at the forefront of the Victorian Era of the British Empire. Massive profits were being gained from the numerous overseas factions of the British Empire not to mention the benefits of improvement during the Industrial Revolution in England. This period of prosperity yielded an 'eclectic revival and interpretations of historic styles and the introduction of cross-cultural influences from the middle east and Asia' (Wiki) This resulted in an illustrious clash of Gothic revival and Classicism (what was deemed as acceptable at the time) While reading up on Wikipedia, I learned that there was a 'Battle of the Styles' in England over the debate between whether using Gothic or Classical architecture was appropriate.

Victorian decoration and design was both orderly and heavily ornamented. A typical Victorian house was 'neatly divided into rooms' with the Parlor being the center of the household and most important, and dining room being second. The hallways would be painted in a somber tone such as gray with finishes that appeared to be a stone/marble or grained to give a look of uniqueness. The use of wallpaper was extremely popular and was usually a floral or leaf-styled pattern with primary colors in the background like red, blue or yellow and overprinted with colors like cream or tan. (Wikipedia)

I think that it is truly fascinating how art evolves and reappears throughout history. Many Victorian patterns are inspired by Medieval and Gothic designs. Sometimes it takes a couple of centuries for a style to suddenly become "in" again and be recycled and used to represent a specific state of mind or sense of style of the period. Victorian design patterns became popular again in the 1960's during the rise of counterculture and the emergence of psychedelia.

A.T. said...

Nast and Pyle are great. Don't mindme.

Ashley said...

The first quarrel by Charles Dana Gibson is hilarious. It’s a simple drawing that speaks volumes with just their facial expression. It looks as if the man has forgotten about the fight and the woman is ready to “battle” again. It might be a little stereotypical. Non-the less I like it. I was also unaware that Gibson created the first pin up girl, The Gibson Girl. The pin up girl has come along way since than.

I also liked Thomas Nast’s drawings they simple as well but also speak volumes. The picture The brain is brilliant and reminds me of my thoughts every time I talk to my boss. I think Nast coming up with animals for political cartoon is brilliant as well.
The drawings I mentioned by Gibson and Nast are classic.
Simple pen or pencil design can sometimes be very appealing in my opinion.

Elysa D. Batista said...

I must confess that I am in love with the chromolithography package designs and posters. I think it’s the classic feel of the era that attracts me. The typography and graphic compositions that are seen during this period up until the 50’s are my favorite in history due to the arrangement and stylization. The examples seen during industrial capitalism are simple, intricate, and elegant. And the typography, images, colors, and use of materials (like tin for their products) have an exquisite sense of weight, character, and timelessness that I feel is missing in the present. Not that I’m complaining about our generation, but sometimes I get lost in all the layers and layers of visual stimuli presented that I cant focus on what is being sold. Not to mention that almost all the products that ARE sold are printed on plastic, or some form of cardboard. Who keeps that? One of the few companies that mimic this time period in material use and even similar vintage look, I would say would be the Altoid’s mint brand. These small Altoid tins (round or rectangular) are something that I’ve seen several people keep instead of tossing away. It’s not only a beautiful design, but its practical for later use (the best of both worlds). Researching on these Altoid tins I’ve stumbled across some of the things people do with them, and have been shocked and intrigued with some of the finds, take a look:

Redecoration of Altoid tins for different uses:

Etching Altoid tins with Salt water Solution
(click where it says instruction manual):

Altoid tin as a camera case:

An Altoid tin guitar:

An Altoid USB Charger.

Although this was a stretch away from Chromolithography, I felt that the material use during industrial capitalism was essential for the products since the tin canisters were kept after the product it held were used. Materials remain a concern in the present for graphic design artists. Yes some might be more costly than others (such as tin for mints and bubble gum versus cardboard or paper), but if the product has a following due to its design and reliability in material use, then it will thrive and stay in business in times of hardship. So even though aesthetic principal should be applied in design, so should practicality (creating possible long term potential in any given product). As could be seen with all the unique DIY uses of Altoid tins that people have come up with.

A.T. said...

There is a way to use links in your comments. Find the syntax for links here

This is Elysa's link to Altoid tin as a camera case.

A.T. said...

It didn't come up. I'll tell you how to do link comments next class.

Emily said...

I found the pictorialism photograph very interesting in its attempt to emulate what is created through a painting. Selden I. Davis’s photograph entitled Pittsburghesqu (1947), is a great example of pictorialism. Like a painting, this phtograph has a stable, balanced composition with a clear sense of movement, along with linear and aerial perspective. I found the soft-focus photographic approach which gives soft edges and muted tones to the photograph to be reminiscent of the stufamto technique employed by great artists such as Leonardo. This aesthetic image also reminds me of the romantic style in a way, with its dark and mysterious tone. Specifically, the pictorialism example given in the blog, by Seldon I. Davis shows Pittsburgh’s smoky city, and is a great example of the popularity of capturing foggy, industrial scenes. The industrial nature of Pittsburgh in this photograph is clear as the steam train is depicted on a gloomy day that is enhanced through the light and texture of the photograph that pictorialists were able to manipulate.

victoria said...

I am politely perplexed by pictorialism. First, artists perfect there craft so they can achieve super-realism in their paintings. Thus, a painting looks like a picture. Then a happy accident creates the first photograph, which is then followed by even better quality photographs, until one day photography becomes the epitome of realism. Now I understand why painters felt snubbed about the camera and its evil glimpses of reality. It left painters with quite a problem. BUT they were logical about it. They said hey, let's make paintings that DON'T look like pictures at all (take that, camera devil).

So one would think okay, paintings go one way, photography the other, and everybody's happy. But now all of a sudden photography wants to harken back to paintings? Let's make a photograph that looks like a painting. What a ridiculous notion. Didn't you just spend all this time trying to achieve that realism? And now you want to throw that all away so you can produce a mediocre version of the masterpieces you made before? Photos aren't supposed to look like paintings, they're supposed to look real. It is no wonder people were not fond of pictorialism. It reeked of inauthenticity, trying to do what it did before and taking such a fantastic new medium for granted.

I say let the painters paint and let the photographers photograph and let's be done with it. At least painters who try to capture realism are perfecting a technique, not manipulating reality to make it look fake.

Kara D said...

I really enjoyed Owen Jones’ "The Grammar of Ornament" where he worked to document every ornament known to man up until that point. I typically think of wallpaper as a tacky decoration. When I see it in people’s houses, it usually looks kitsch, and when I see it in Victorian settings, it looks gaudy. In design, I am quite a fan of white space and clean lines.

However, I am starting to see the beauty in pattern. I was in Spain for a while this last summer, and during my travels I went to the Alhambra Palace in Granada. The walls are covered in Moorish patterning and Arabic inscriptions, and they are breathtaking. When the Alhambra was being constructed, one of the main concerns of the architects was to decorate every surface. It is no surprise to me that the Alhambra’s modular tiles and pattern decorations influenced Jones.

One of the assignments in a graphic design class of mine last semester was to create a modular alphabet. My strategy was to take a preexisting alphabet and modified it so that each letter would fit in a square, and that each letter would touch all four sides of said square. I then filled the letters with fabric patterns. I’m not sure what specifically influenced me (consciously or subconsciously), but that alphabet I made is evidence of my growing affinity for pattern and ornamentation.

scolbert said...

I too was drawn to comment on the works of Howard Pyle. His imagination and talent combined created beautiful images such as the No Haid Pawn and The Flying Dutchman. Both are very ghostly, however, the color compositions aid in telling the stories behind the works. There is an eerie misty blue glow that sets the tone in No Haid Pawn. Although it is eerie, the colors are so vibrant. The ocean's aqua coloring along with the rich reds of the man’s hats and the woman’s head ornaments contrast with the grayish background, the pale flesh, and the brown mountain range.
The muted and dreary off whites and browns give the sense of dearth in the Flying Dutchman. Again, Pyle uses red to draw the eye into the painting. The use of draping is also detailed giving the piece a more realistic aspect. It almost seems as if the man in black is dragging his victim through shallow water as the sheet follows lifelessly behind.

Ryan Eckert said...

Wikipedia says that Thomas Nast is the "Father of the American Cartoon." I think that they might be right; he has been making his cartoons since the Civil war. I think that the political cartoons done by Nast are really funny. The website at the bottom of my post is a link to some of Nast’s drawings he made and a brief explanation. Looking at the one about Boss Tweed, they claim that a customs official was able to recognize him by a caricature that was drawn by Nast. The power of an image is strong enough to cross a language barrier makes me proud to be a designer. The impact that these graphic designs influence our culture today is outstanding. I had no idea that the designs of one person could decide the figures to represent political parties; a donkey and an elephant. It makes me nervous to see what kind of an impact I will have in the future with my designs.

Annika said...

I too love the work of Howard Pyle that you recently posted onto the class blog. The description about Pyle underneath the images starts off by saying how he “revolutionized illustration… which introduced a new level of drama, action and visual excitement to what was largely a staid and restrained art form at the time” and that is exactly what originally drew me to the works. The way that intense emotion and actions are shown in his illustrations captures me in a way that I feel is uncommon for art using such soft and generally muted tones. The top image expressed such great intensity yet wasn’t visually overwhelming with dozens of obnoxiously bright colors. I began looking up other images by Pyle to see if more of his work affected me in this manner and was pleased to come across his “Travels of the Soul”. These four pieces all exhibit gentle detail and vivid feelings, with only a smattering of bright red sections acting as focal points. Overall, I really like how Pyle creates images that manage to be both pretty and poignant. The above mentioned series can be found here--

Magdalena said...

I was really impressed and amazed with Howard Pyle, especially his monochromatic drawings. I love the dynamism in every image. Each of them tells their own story. They are not grotesque or caricatures, they are very realistic looking with a lot of details. A lot of diagonals create this incredible sense of movement. Those two illustrations posted on this blog are my favorites of all his work I’ve seen. The emotions in them just explode. You can almost feel them yourself. Also, I think the monochromatic composition, along with the lighting, makes those illustrations even more dramatic.

I was thinking also if the Victorian style/era might be an inspiration for maximalism? The Victorian style tended to put a lot of different things together, and “the more the better”. It kind of seems similar to what maximalism does. The floral elements are seen in both styles, maybe in maximalism a little more computerized and abstracted, however they could fall into one category. Also the exotic elements of design appear in both. I have no proof for any of that but I can definitely see the similarities.

Lauren said...

I think the subject that most interested me was that of Pictorialism. The idea that photographers of that day would take images that replicated that of paintings so that their work would too be considered art. Many painters of that day were repulsed at the fact that these wannabe failed painters were taking the the easy way out and letting the photographs do all the work for them.
The pinhole camera is till this day an amazing invention/creation that led to our modern day cameras. Photography also gave way to graphic design in my opinion in a huge way because many people today photograph their subject matter and then manipulate it later with computer technology.
Photography was not considered a real art form however and struggled to earn the global communities full respect. It wasnt until Alfred Stieglitz created the Photo-Secession and 291 that photography evolved into an art form and gained the respect of artists all around the world (not for a very long time though around Stieglitz's death). If it were not for him, revolutionary artists such as Picasso, Rodain, Cezanne, and O Keefe to name of few may never have been discovered or taken seriously by anybody else. Photography had huge implications for graphic design today and that is why I believe it to be so influential

Lizzy said...

I also found the post about Pictorialism interesting. I know some people believe photography to be a “illegitimate” art form, but I do believe it is a true form of art. If the products of photorealism and hyperrealism are considered art, why can’t Pictorialism be an art form as well?

The camera was a great invention that influenced the world of painting drastically. Before photographs, painters such as Monet had to sit outside on their easels painting as fast as they could to capture a landscape at a certain point in time. The only problem with this, was that the sun would move, changing light and shadow, and therefore not allowing the artist to fully capture one single moment in time. Now, and for many years, artists have painted from photographs and many masterpieces have resulted in this. Some people may say this is “cheating,” but I think that no matter the process, the result is what truly matters in the end.

Although it is much different than the painting process, photography is still an art form in itself because of the chosen concept and the way it is portrayed by the photographer (or, as I like to say, artist). Especially in Pictorialism, where muted tones and soft edges are chosen, a certain form of art is expressed.

The Pictorialistic example shown in this blog, Seldon Davis’s Pittsburghesque, is, to me, a fine example to art. Whether it was taken by a camera, painted in oil paints, or created in Photoshop, it is still a work of art.

Nicole Severi said...

I found the works by Walter Crane absolutely fabulous. I really love the use of bright colors and his pictures use color as a very strong tool. I really like the second picture, using the hog's head. It gives a piece that seems to be highly Victorian a more edgy twist. Pieces like this I would guess spawned from Crane's influence in Socialism, which I read, eventually led him do weekly political cartoons.

I've always loved children's books, especially fairy tales, and Crane seems to have had a strong influence in that area of art. I really like the Frog Prince series ( which depicts the story from Grimm’s Fairytales. I wonder if stories like this would still be as popular today if there weren’t drawing to go along with them. I’ve only ever seen illustrations from popular children’s books of today and naively assumed they had always looked that way. Crane’s style is much more adult than the pictures in present day books for children. I know it says that the Victorian era was more tender towards children, but this still looks fairly adult and mature.

Jessica said...

The one that I was attracted to the most was Owen Jones' The Grammar of Ornament. Having earned a degree in fashion design I've had several opportunities to learn a variety of art methods and have come to particularly appreciate such pattern-based designs as those made by Owen Jones. The areas of design that have always attracted me have been those that concentrated on print and textile; furthermore I'm amazed at the implementation of such art styles into Fashion, Graphic, Architectural and other such studies of Art.
This art form has proven to not only be an enduring design genre that has survived the test of time, but has also managed to become an increasingly popular art method. Its resurgence in today's society can be found in popular culture by simply observing such fashionable items as clothing, handbags, and iPod cases (to name only a few influential examples). While some people may not come to appreciate such art forms as those produced by Owen Jones I believe it's important to recognize the important and influential role it has played in the history and will continue to play in the future of Graphic Design.

A.T. said...

Magdalena: Victorian aesthetic and Maximalism: good comparison.

Nicole and Lizzy: Pictorialism is the result of a young discipline (photography) trying to find itself amidst a bunch of painting traditions, Barbizon, Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, etc, (painting was a much more respected tradition). It's also a movement that helped define modern photography.

A.T. said...

Besides Owens Grammar of Arnament, there is Racinet's The Ornament Polychrome. Check it out.