Wednesday, November 26, 2008

1930 - 1950

Public interest Campaigns and Information Design

The Great Depression
One of the events that exerted influence on the design development is the Great Depression.
This crisis begins at 1929 and last app. 10 years changing the social status and views of many.

As it is known from the history in a war time or in times of economic crisis the moral principles, values and priorities bear a revision.
In the hard times between 30s- and 50s the graphic designers get a new social engaged role. They are called to educate, inform and persuade the population.
This are few poster before the war. The time of great stagnation in the economy the cheap or free things became important.

From left to right:
1. 1938 WPA silkscreen poster promoting oral hygiene.
2. 1940 WPA Art Project poster for the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority.
3. 1941 WPA Federal Art Project poster extolling the benefits of retail commerce.

The government was aware of the potential power of the visual communication and it hires many designers for its need. The new employer sets new requests - understandable, cheap and effective. With the invention of the silkscreen that all was possible.
As the target was the broad masses of the people the graphic production should be with clear message. There is no room for experiments and sensibility. The tough times insist pragmatism and dry rationality.

When the government interference in the art usually the result is propaganda. The art become utilitarian, an instrument for communication, mobilization and persuasion.

Do not waste food! Canning is patriotic.

Do not travel! Defense needs rubber!

Save rubbers and oil!

Know your friends!

Work hard!

Judging from this pictures and slogans it had to be a time for great efforts!
I found few posters that have really strong message...

... other are not so heartbreaking but heroic.

The other great production of such propaganda posters was made in Russia!

In the both sides of the ocean could see the same idealization that soon after war will divide the world on two. This absolutism ("We are good- they are bad","Do what is right "), the moral norms, the power of the conformism are the new rules of the world game.
Find a enemy to unify your people is old as world maxim, idealize and manipulate.
Beside the alert posters there are many movie posters.

The existentialism
Along with this tendencies in the literacy there is one more movement - the existentialism.
Although it has some roots in the years before the WW2 the Existentialism appears as a strong cultural movement after 40s.
as a child of the war Camus says
"The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth"

Great depression + World War: it probably was hard time for many people. Usually in times of disasters people reevaluate their beliefs and priorities. The existentialism appears as a respond of the lost rationality during the war. The war with the poverty, starvation and despair that it brings occurs to be a border situation that sober down intellectuals.
With no God the individual face the unbearable weight of the choise

Documentary photography

For the purposes of the to information and to persuation us used also documentary Photography.

Key words:
Educate, inform, Mobilization, Propaganda, Politic, Charts, crisis, war, idealism, absurd,
"fact based objectivity", documentary

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

1920- 1930

The Culture of Consumption

In the years after the First World War Europe is restoring, North America is going though economical rise. As a result of the growing produce and competition, increase the need of advertising. This sphere came to be very attractive for many of the new artists. The new talents and ideas were used in the war for the consumers attention bringing the advertising to the new level. The using (and abusing) of the visual is developed to sophisticated manipulation. Images suggest certain values, style and desires to the consumers. To accomplish this purposes the advertising resorts to some of the elements of the avant-garde.

Avant-garde in the context of mass consumption
After the WWI many of the intellectual capacity of the Old Continent escape to North America searching for a better future, bringing with itself the new art movements created in Europe. Thus Constructivism, Futurism, Dadaism were found to be in the circumstances of quickly developing economic that needs well developed advertisement. Responding to that need some of the stylistic features of the avant-garde movements are quickly assimilated and commersialased. This new styles become a mark for modernity.

At that time many artist come together and create professional organizations. This institutionalization correspond to the new stage of the arts application.
1917 - Association of the American Advertising Agencies regulate advertising and provides more than 80% of the national advertises.
1919 - Bauhaus - art organization developed in Germany and later moved to USA
1920 - Art Directory Club is founded by Louis Pedlar and it is the first international organization of this kind.

Consumer Engineering
The new philosophy of the manufacture is twisted. Instead of creating a product for peoples needs, there are created needs for the new products.
Using the archetype images and visual codes the artists create recipes for what you must be, look, like, want.

Branding, psychology, market analyzes - advertisement became the perfect form formanipulation.

Art Deco search for "geometric beauty" and fonts related with it are sans-serif.
Here are one of the most common Art Deco font types.

Graphic Design History A critical Guide

Monday, November 17, 2008

1910 - 1930

Innovation and Persuasion

As logical continuation of the Decadence, Aestheticism and mechanization of the working process come Abstraction, Futurism and Dadaism. Those are one of the main styles that define Classical modernity.
Dehumanization, machine aesthetics, geometric forms, fracture of the shapes are the next stages of the Late Nineteenth Century Cynicism. The World War I enhance this spirits. The war brings nonsense, destruction and confusion.

Visual culture and avant-gadre.
It seems like in times of trouble people tend to be more extreme in taste. The social background of the Twentieth Century and the growing role of the machines come as a challenge to the artists to experiment using the new technologies. Their experiments are respond to the reality as well as distillation of it.
The term avant-garde is french and literally means "advance guard". In military this word denote "a small troop of highly skilled soldiers, explores the terrain ahead of a large advancing army and plots a course for the army to follow" (Wikipedia). In cultural filed it means those who push the limits of the norms and possibilities.

Wassily Kandinsky
He is Russian artist, avangardist and theorist whose art is expressive and strongly abstract. Points, lines, colors- he rely on psychological effect created by the basic elements.

Technical capabilities and Experiments
The new styles often use photography and photo montage, printing technology, typography but breaking the rules.

Is international movement, but it center is in Italy. The beginning is set with the "Futurists manifesto" by Filippo Marinetti. As the name suggests this is movement turned to the future. This movement reveals the beauty of the machine and the aesthetic of the pure geometric forms.


Dadaism begins in Zurich. The World War I was not only political event. For the people who live in it the war has social and moral dimensions. Its absurd evokes the relevant reaction.
Shocking destruction of the forms, broken, confusing - DADA is impossible to be understand.

What is DADA?

Playing with the sense, or actually going beyond of the sense Dadaism is a protest against the war and is so absurd as the war itself.

As in the nature everything is seeking for balance, processes in the art also follow the same low.
In the late Nineteenth Century Aesthetic principle "art for the art's sake" isolate the art from reality. This extremeness soon is compensated by Constructivism. This style is a result of the post war sobering up and utilitarian tendencies in Russian Futurism. It could be characterized with sanserif type font, primary colors, abstract geometric shapes.

Propaganda and Graphic persuasion
Many of the artist at that time were engaged in creating propaganda images. Because the avant-garde was too far from the mainstream sensibility those deviant art were rarely approved for propaganda. For mass persuasion much more successful was Plakatstil (poster style) which borrowed the flat colors of the Art Nouveau, but was not so complicated.

One of the most famous modern styles that influence the graphic design, typography, architecture. It's slogan is "the new unity of art and technology". It start as a school and soon become a movement which consider the machine as new tool. For me this style embodies the same coldness as the Futurism and Constructivism.

It seems like modernism leaves strong mark over the communist countries (although later it is mixed with the heroic realism). I was 10 years old when Communism fell and I remember how boring was for a child all those clear shapes, row colors and sterile designs. Everything was the same - mostly blue and red, with no details, made fast and cold.
I also remember that in the first few years after 1989 a common kid collection was pack of import goodies - they were so colorful, well illustrated and definitely very different from what we were use to see.

This is the design of my favorite shampoo and a cover of plate with faritale.

Saving cream


Friday, November 14, 2008

1880 - 1910

Chapter 8
Formations of the modern movement

This time is the border between romanticism and modernity. Time for experiments, exploring, and breaking the rules. Time that set the beauty as the ultimate sense of the art (and probably the life) and the same goes beyond it. The deifying turns in exhaustion.

Historical events:
1896 Olympic games revived in Athens.
1889 Vincent Van Gogh paint his self-portrait
1890 The Picture of Dorian Grey is published (Oscar Wilde)
1901 The radio is used as a device for messages.
1903 First airplane fly.
1905 The Paris Subway
1905 Vladimir Lenin support the Russian revolution.

Styles related with the period:
Art Neuveau:
An echo of the Victorian era and influenced by Art and Craft Movements. It is characterized by organic forms,
stylized floral ornaments, decorative, flowing curves, female forms, eroticism, rejection of realism.

Alphonse Mucha - Czechoslovakian who moved at Paris in 1890. He is one of the symbols of French Art Nouveau. After the WWI he returns in Czechoslovakia and start the Slavic Art and Crafts movement.

Ivan Bilibin - russian artist influenced by Art Nouveau. He is one of the emblematic artist for the Russian Folk Art Movement. His works illustrate folk tales.

William Morris
- Art and craft movement, well known with his fabric patterns, modernization of antique type fonts

Leopoldo Metlicovitz

the german equivalent of Art Nouveau

Gustav Klimt

Ukiyo-e - "the floating world"
Japanese style of woodcuts and paintings. It depicts landscapes, historical events, scenes of pleasure. In fact many of Ukiyo-e works are advertisements
of tea houses, theaters, restaurants - places for pleasure.

"Teahouse waitress serving cup of tea"

Decadence and Aestheticism

One of the most debatable art movements. They both (as well the symbolism) has their roots in The Romanticism. They both escape from the reality.

Decadence as they say is "the dark side of Romanticism.
" (Karl Beckson) It shows the decay of the moral and opens taboos like death, depression, deviation.

Aestheticism set the beauty in the center. The sensuous pleasure become most important. Art for the art's sake. The beauty is in cult.