Survey 6: Max Out that Poof

Dreams and Designers (1895-1905)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about art nouveau, the Glasglow school, the Vienna Secession, and the transition from artist to designer. The art nouveau and Arts and Crafts movement were similar, but their differences lie in their focuses in the past and future. While the Arts and Crafts movement had nostalgia for the past, the art nouveau movement was interested in combining the old traditions to create a modern form of beauty. Many artists had an art nouveau style, especially Eugène Grasset, Paul Berthon, and Alfons Mucha. While it is unknown whether art nouveau started in Paris or Brussels, both cities’ architecture was influenced by art nouveau.

In Scotland, from the Glasgow School of Art came a combination of Arts and Crafts and art nouveau style. Created by the Glasgow Four (Charles Rennie Mackintosh, J. Herbert McNair, Margaret Macdonald, and Frances Macdonald), this new style was art nouveau with a geometric twist. From designing architecture to creating illustrations, these four were popular in Germany and Austria. In addition to the Glasgow version of art nouveau. Other forms of art nouveau were also present. These include Jugendstil (young style) and Sezessionstil (Secession style).

In this era, many geographic-political events occurred. The development of the union movement, Suffragist movement, and Queen Victoria’s death. In the science and technology community, many inventions were also taking place. The Lumiere Brothers created the first moving picture and the first science-fiction film, Sigmund Freud publishes his “The Interpretation of Dreams”, Zeppelin ships (passenger carrying airships) were invented, Marconi sends the first transatlantic radio message, and the Wright brothers fly the first gas-motored plane.

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Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910)

Henri Rousseau:

Henri Rousseau was a French artist who is best known for his richly coloured and meticulously detailed works of lush jungle scenes, wild beasts, and exotic figures. His success mainly lies within his background as a self-taught artist and through this, he became the archetypal naive artist. Rousseau’s style showed his lack of academic training and amateurish techniques, such as incorrect proportions, one point perspective, use of sharp unnatural colours, and unusual compositions. His works were made fun of criticized by contemporary critics, but he earned respect of modern artists who admired him for revealing “new possibilities of simplicity”. For example, Surrealists, who valued surprising juxtaposition and dream-like mood characteristics, celebrated Rousseau’s art as they found these aspects in his art. Henri’s Rousseau created modern and unconventional renderings of traditional genres, imbuing them with a sense of mystery and eccentricity.

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Realism, Pre-Impressionism, and Pre-Raphaelites: James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)

James Abbott McNeill Whistler:

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born artist credited with spearheading the Anglo-Japanese style in fine art. Delighted by Japanese art, he incorporated Japanese aesthetic into his imaginative compositions. This can be shown through his celebrated signature style of a limited colour palette and tonal contrast while skewing perspective to show a new compositional approach that emphasized the flat and abstract quality of his paintings. He also depended on the theory of “art for art’s sake”, meaning art needs no justification. As a result of this theory, he gave musical titles to his paintings, such as “Harmony” and “Symphony”, because he thought that music was the most abstract of all arts. These abstract titles then made viewers more focussed on his manipulation of paint rather than the subject matter.

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Survey 5: Fashion’s Embrace to Japonisme

Painters and Posters (1850-1895)


In this week’s class, we learned about art posters, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the book-design renaissance. The Arts and Crafts movement (the demand for making things by hand instead of machines) was founded by William Morris and it was the precursor to the Art Nouveau movement. An example of the Arts and Crafts movement would be the Century Guild founded by Arthur H. Mackmurdo and Selwyn Image that tried to get craftspeople recognized on the same level as fine artists. They were a contrast to Charles Robert and his School and Guild of Handicraft who embraced machine production to make his designs affordable to the common folk.

Jules Chéret was the father of poster design as well as the father of women liberation due to his depictions of independent women in his posters. Another notable designer was Louis Rhead where his ads in Century Magazine were influenced by ukiyo-e art: he showed patterns on fabric and used simple lines. The first impressionist painting was Claude Monet’s Impression Sunrise which was also influenced by ukiyo-e art.

Inventions of this age included the linotype machine by Otto Mergenthaler in 1886, the first photo appearing in 1880, and George Eastman’s Kodak camera of 1889. Other inventions were the first postcards in 1869 and then the first postcards with images in 1870. In terms of architecture, the first skyscraper was built by Willian Le Baron Jenney in 1884, Gustave Eiffel gifted the Statue of Liberty to the US, and Gustave Eiffel and Maurice Koechlin completed the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

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Picture Books of the Devil (0- 1450) (History Book Spread: Blue)

History Spread

This history book spread for my topic (culture) combined with the time period (0- 1450) was certainly a challenge. Due to the large range of time, a single culture was hard to pinpoint. Nevertheless, my group decided to focus on the entertainment of the period as well as the influences of the Church. Continue reading “Picture Books of the Devil (0- 1450) (History Book Spread: Blue)”

Survey 4: Hello? Is This Morse Code?

Steam and the Speed of Light (1750- 1850)


In this week’s class, we learned about the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of Japanese ukiyo-e, and photography. During this time, the Romantic period of art was mainly romantic and nostalgic. In 1789, the French Revolution took place and after years of unrest, Napoleon was crowned France’s emperor in 1804. The Industrial Revolution brought upon many technological advancements. These include the invention of the steam engine by James Watt, which also allowed the production of iron and steel, enabling huge changes in transportation. Factories could also make products in mass quantities, allowing the occurrence of mass consumption.

Many technologies were also created and developed for printing. In 1796, Alois Senefelder invented the lithographic printing, which also led to the invention of chromolithography by Godefroy Engelmann- essentially lithographic printing but with the addition of colour. The cast-iron press was invented in 1800 and was followed by the invention of the steam press in 1814. Both these inventions enabled easier, faster, and cheaper printing.

With the invention of Firmin Didot’s typeface (the 1780s- 90s), the first modern typeface was invented. Many more types were invented in the next years. In 1800, display types (fat faces) were invented by Robert Thorne; Vincent Figgins invented Slab-serif display faces in 1810; William Caslon IV then invented sans serifs in 1816.

Other notable events are the invention of Braille, the invention of photography- the heliogravure, daguerreotype, and calotype/talbotype-, and the discovery of ukiyo-e prints by the Japanese- which impacted Europe artists and society immensely.

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Survey 3: That’s Some Serious Art

Block Books and Baroque (1450-1750)


In this week’s class, we learned about the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and the golden age of type, as well as the arrival of newspapers, novels, and dictionaries. During the Renaissance, humanism, art, and science was flourishing as they started to break away from biblical subjects and the Church. It was also in the fifteenth century that it was the golden age of type. After Fust’s 42 line Bible in 1455, printing progressed very quickly. Germany became the centre of printing, but due to political unrest, many German printers moved to other European nations to develop and continue printing. Those who moved to Rome had a lot of business as the Pope was in Rome, rich, and interested in printing Bibles to encourage the spread of the Church. Many “Roman-style” typefaces (typefaces that came out post-Gothic period) -also called Antique, Venetian or Old Style- were created during this period.

During the Baroque period (the 1600s), where art had a serious heavy style that was inspired by what was happening in the Church, it was a relatively quiet time for graphic design innovation. In the 1700s, the first transitional typeface was created, the Romain du Roi, by King Louis XIV. Transitional typefaces represented the departure of Old Style typefaces and had a contrast between thick and thin strokes.

The Rococo period emerged from Louis XIV and had soft pastel colours, with a lot of whites, and fancy motifs. During this time, transitional typefaces continued to be created. Along with the development of transitional typefaces, the Caslon type specimen was invented by William Caslon. It had all the different sizes, letters, etc. of a type that would be gathered together with other typefaces to present as examples. Continue reading “Survey 3: That’s Some Serious Art”

Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Rococo: George Stubbs (1724-1806)

George Stubbs:

George Stubbs was a British painter of the eighteenth century. He was best known for his paintings of horses and conversation pieces (a type of group portraiture), and established a reputation of the leading painter of horse portraits. This brought him a lot of commissions, including from many noblemen who founded the Jockey Club, a breed registry for Thoroughbred horses in North America that still exists today. From an early age, he had an interest in anatomy and this was a driving force in his career. His paintings of horses are among the most accurate to ever be painted, but his work transcends naturalism. He also painted a variety of other animals, including the lion, tiger, giraffe, monkey, and rhinoceros, marking him as an outstanding animal painter and anatomical draftsman. He knew the importance of observation and anatomical analysis, and believed that nature was superior to art.

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