Survey 4: Hello? Is This Morse Code?

Steam and the Speed of Light (1750- 1850)

Summary:

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.

Continue reading “Survey 4: Hello? Is This Morse Code?”

Survey 3: That’s Some Serious Art

Block Books and Baroque (1450-1750)

Summary:

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.

Continue reading “Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Rococo: George Stubbs (1724-1806)”

Survey 2: So What Were Those Christian Books About?

God and Gutenberg (0-1450)

Summary:

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.

Continue reading “Survey 2: So What Were Those Christian Books About?”

Baroque: Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain:

Claude Lorrain was a French painter of the seventeenth century. He is best known for being one of the greatest masters of ideal landscape painting, an art form that seeks to present nature even more beautiful and harmonious. While his works were tributes to the beauty of nature, they usually represented historical or mythical scenes. Originally, he drew from nature, but around the beginning of 1640, he started to make his compositions more Classical and monumental. Lorrain infused the tradition of idealized landscape painting with observed accuracy and created a new method of landscape painting; he worked outdoors, painting from detailed observation and blending classical idealism with naturalistic detail. He also emphasized the dramatic contrasts of light and shade, giving his paintings a powerful feeling of the ephemeral and eternal. Through these contributions to landscape painting, Lorrain laid the foundations for a historical landscape tradition that dominated French and English paintings for at least the next 150 years, becoming influential in his life as well as in England in the mid-eighteen to mid-nineteenth century.

Continue reading “Baroque: Claude Lorrain”

High Renaissance and Mannerism: Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1520)

Hieronymus Bosch:

Hieronymus Bosch was a Netherland painter of the early 16th century. He was one of art’s first visionary geniuses, the first original thinker, and the first artist to visually express beings and realms unknown to human understanding. Instead of paintings that merely depicted reality, he painted equally convincing concrete and tangible shapes of the fear that had haunted people in the Middle Ages. And he was the first artist to succeed in doing so! He became famous for his apocalyptic representations of the powers of evil and was most celebrated for his rich details and symbolic narrative portrayals of the dance between Heaven and Hell as well as the age-old tales of morality and the eventual fate of sinners.

Continue reading “High Renaissance and Mannerism: Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1520)”

Late Gothic and Early Renaissance: Simone Martini (1284-1344)

Simone Martini:

Simone Martini was a Sienese (Italian) painter of the 14th century. He painted in books, on panel, and on walls and is recognized as one of the outstanding painters of the 14th century of Europe with his professional skill. Martini had a restless and innovative temperament, full of novelty and invention. He varied pitch and pace in his stories, creating works that varied in range and contrasted each other. An artist who observed the details of nature and used depth in his paintings, Martini also loved harmonious pure colours and the decorative style of the Gothic period. With these qualities, he created the perfect combination of the ideals of the Gothic age into his paintings.

Continue reading “Late Gothic and Early Renaissance: Simone Martini (1284-1344)”

Survey 1: Delving into Early Asian Languages

Handprints and Handwriting (35 000 BCE- 0 CE)

Summary:

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.

Continue reading “Survey 1: Delving into Early Asian Languages”