Survey 10: Less Than Satisfactory

Fortune and the Führer (1930-1945)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about the Great Depression, the Second World War, and European designers in America. During the Great Depression in America, many jobs were created by the US Works Progress Administration in an attempt to stimulate the economy. These included the Farm Security Administration (an organization that tried to improve the lifestyle of American farmers during the depression) and commissioning artists to create posters for public services/events. In 1933, the Nazi party was elected in Germany and they used extensive propaganda to spread their racist goals and ideals. Artists, such as Helmut Franz Josef Herzfield aka John Heartfield, were named Degenerate artists as Hitler believed that modern art was bad.

Several European designers including Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold fled to America when World War 2 broke out. Edward McKnight Kauffer, as well as many other artists, were involved in creating posters for World War 2. Walter Paepcke, the son of a German immigrant, founded the Container Corporation of America (CCA) and hired many European designers to design his posters. Such as A.M. Cassandre, Jean Carlu, and Herbert Bayer. Fortunato Depero was another designer who moved to the US.

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Survey 9: A Confusing Dream

Colour Theory and Cool Type (1925-1930)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about Art Deco, the Bauhaus school, and the leap forward into modern typography. The Dasstaatliche Bauhaus opened in 1919 in Weimar, Germany. Their goal was to create useful objects and designs. Walter Gropius was named the Bauhaus’ first director in 1919 and he had a new way of teaching design where students would be able to learn, but also able to make prototypes and sell them. He hired numerous famous and respectable artists to teach at his school. These include Johannes Itten, Josef Albers, Gerhard Marcks, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, and Herbert Bayer. However, due to the eccentricity of the school, the government and public believed that the Bauhaus provided no value and wanted to cut their funding. In response to this negativity, Gropius moved the Bauhaus to Dessau instead, allowing the school to gain more freedom.

Jan Tschichold never went to Bauhaus but he was inspired by their exhibition. He was very interested in typography and wrote an essay that set out rules about using type and layout effectively. He invented in Sabon type in the 1960’s and Paul Renner created his Steile Futura type in 1927. Kurt Schwitters was the leader of the Ring of New Advertising Designers, Piet Zwart thought himself as a typotekt (typographer and architect), and Paul Schuitema was another modern typographer.

Other notable events that occurred were the art movement Art Deco, the creation of the Chrysler and Empire State building, and Charles “Lindy” Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic by plane.

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Survey 8: The “Truth to Materials”

Charlestons and Communists (1915-1925)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about the first World War, Dadaism, and the Russian Revolutions and constructivism. World War 1 was the main subject in advertising and poster design. Much propaganda focussed on recruiting able-bodied men to the war, women to join the workforce and factories to make supplies for war, and people to invest their money in war bonds so that governments could fund for the war. In the US and UK, their poster designs were mostly the traditional pictorial approach while in other areas, such as Germany, their posters were still following neo-classical designs with heavy gothic type.

Art movements were also prominent at this time. Dadaism artists mocked a society that had gone insane and their art was a reaction to the senseless suffering and loss of life they saw during the war. Surrealism emerged from Paris and its artists searched for the “more real than real-world beyond the real”. The Dutch De Stijl movement was a complete opposition to Dadaism and was an abstract geometric style seeking balance and harmony during the war. In Russia, the Suprematist movement focussed on the idea that geometry was the highest form of beauty. Constructivism derived from the Suprematist movement and featured basic, abstract geometric forms and the use of red, black, and white.

Life in the 1920’s was a difficult time. Many families were hurt by the emotional and physical trauma soldiers suffered when they came home. From 1920-1933, Canada and the US’ alcohol Prohibition was in effect. In 1920, Canada began forcing indigenous children to attend residential schools. However, not all was negative. This was also the time of the “Golden Age of Radio”, the age of jazz, and many famous figures such as Coco Chanel and Josephine Baker.

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Survey 7: It’s Like Classicism, But Not

Cubism and Corporate Identity (1905-1915)


In this week’s lecture, we learned about the impact of modern art, plakatstil, and the origins of corporate identity. Modern art was developing. Artists such as Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Marcel Duchamp were all part of the art movement known as cubism. The Armory Show in New York City was an international exhibition of modern art that changed the way Americans thought about modern art. Hundreds of artists participated in this exhibition and The Armory was called the most important exhibition ever held in the US.

In 1905, Lucian Bernhard designed a poster for Priester Matches, creating the plakatstil style (poster style). This style consisted of only two basic elements, the product name and the product image, and conveyed a message that was both impactful and effective.

The AEG turbine factory designed by Peter Behrens was the first to have a logo and a corporate identity, making Behrens the first logo/corporate identity designer. This designer was also the first to design a typeface for a specific company where the company only used this typeface- the Behrens Schrift typeface designed for AEG.

Many other inventions were also created during this time. The first Model T was produced by Ford Motor Company and invented the factory line, cutting costs of production. In 1909, an early Autochrome colour photograph was invented by the Lumiere Brothers, Gertie the Dinosaur by Winsor McCay introduced keyframe animation, and in 1914, the American Institue of Graphic Arts (AIGA) was founded.

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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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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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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”

Survey 2: So What Were Those Christian Books About?

God and Gutenberg (0-1450)


Since 0 BC, the written word has progressed from manuscript bibles to the invention of printing and typography. In the second century, parchment, prepared animal skin, was invented in Pergamon, Turkey. Parchment was less translucent than papyrus, meaning it could be written on both sides, unlike papyrus which could only be written on one side, but it was more expensive than papyrus so even after parchment was invented, the Romans still used papyrus. However, even though papyrus was cheaper, papyrus scripts were being replaced by codices in the second century. Codices (“codex” for singular) were any manuscripts or books that were created before printing was invented- everything in the book was written by hand. Many codices were related to religion as Christianity was taking over the Pagan religion and this conversion led to many decorative books. These include the St. Cuthbert Gospel, Book of Hours, and Celtic Psalter. In the twelveth century, Fabriano, Turkey, was the centre of paper-making in Europe. They learned how to make paper from learning from Chinese paper-makers who were kidnapped along the Silk Road and brought to Turkey.

Soon, printing came into play. Wooden blocks were used to print- just as the Chinese did with their wooden relief printing blocks- block books, broadside keepsakes, and playing cards. In the 1440s, Johan Gutenberg came up with the idea of using moveable type. The moveable type consisted of letters that could be put together in any order for print. Again, the Chinese had already accomplished this- a man named Bi Sheng invented types that could be glued together to print and by using a “lazy Susan-ish” idea, he could find the right types.

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Survey 1: Delving into Early Asian Languages

Handprints and Handwriting (35 000 BCE- 0 CE)


In this week’s class, we covered the evolution of communication from 35 000 BCE to 0 CE. At the centre of this early communication was rock art in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs: pictures drawn or carved into rocks. From pictographs, cuneiform was invented as the first written language or proto-writing. Then from cuneiform, other written languages were also invented. These include Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Phoenician alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet evolved into other languages, such as Aramaic and Greek. Aramaic produced Arabic, Russian, and modern Hindu while Greek evolved into Roman Latin, which then produces our modern English language. Many objects, technological and literary advances were also created in relation to the invention of written language. Papyrus was used in Egypt to write hieroglyphics and the Book of the Dead is an example of an early text.

In another part of the world, written language was also advancing. In China, chiaku-wen was created as early as 1800 BCE and consisted of logograms carved on shells and bones as a form of proto-writing. In 200 BCE, chen-shu was invented as a single writing system for united China. Chen-shu then became used in Japan and Korea as a basis for their written language or as a language they used at first. In terms of objects and technological advances, the Chinese invented paper from bamboo to write on instead of the bamboo slats, stone, ceramics, and cloth they were previously using.

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