Design Influences: From the Medieval Manuscript to Early Modern Letterpress Printing

 

BLOG #1

By: Fiona Barnes-Brisley #3155607

Image #1: Medieval Manuscript

Manuscript page from a Missal, Beauvais, France, c. 1290. Tempera and gold on parchment.
Manuscript page from a Missal, Beauvais, France, c. 1290. Tempera and gold on parchment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image #2: Letter-pressed Incunabla

Johannes Gutenberg, Genesis page from 42-Line Bible, Mainz, Germany, c. 1455.
Johannes Gutenberg, Genesis page from 42-Line Bible, Mainz, Germany, c. 1455.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While manuscripts like that from a Missal c.1290 were used by elite, upper classes and scholars and produced in limited quantities due to the costly and timely process of hand-crafting and writing, bound codexes of early incunabla like the mechanically reproduced, letter-pressed 42 Line Bible c.1455 used the innovative mechanical printing technique that spiraled book making into efficient processes that would make knowledge more widely accessible and book production more common and abundant in future periods (Eggebeen).

At a glance, a page from the manuscript a Missal, and Johannes Gutenberg’s 42 Line Bible look strikingly similar. Both feature two justified columns, both black and red type, crisp margins and negative space used to house intricate, hand-painted, colour ornamentation (Eskilson 15). The text and ornamentation work together harmoniously in a composition that emphasizes a vertical organization of the page layout and show skillful painterly technique. Both texts show high standards for design and craftsmanship. While they may seem correlative, the texts were produced nearly 200 years apart, emerging at different ideological periods and using much different craft processes (Eggebeen).

Manuscripts of the medieval period present value, power, and status, and were hand-crafted with a brush and ink by scribes in monasteries, therefore connecting them to the power of the catholic church (Eggebeen) and presenting utmost beauty and magnificence (Eskilson 15). Knowledge correlated with religion. The script of this particular manuscript page is gothic, reflective of gothic architecture showing its religious connotations and requiring skill in its technique (Eggebeen).

In the early modern period, however, a societal shift away from the power of the catholic church and towards more systematic approaches, and empirical ideologies of knowledge emerges (Eggebeen), which can be seen in the process of mechanical printing. Previously, books were rare and limited, yet after Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type and the printing press, his 180 copies of the Gutenberg Bible exceeded libraries of the medieval period (Eggebeen). Books, because of the availability of efficient reproduction using punch-printed metal characters were more broadly available to the growing literate public (Eggebeen). Specialists worked in teams, in a systematic fashion to create the bible (The British Library) showing the cultural value of systemized tasks. It is interesting to note that Gutenberg sought a typeface that was both mechanically produceable and resemblant of  handwritten script seen in manuscripts (Eggebeen), as when compared to a manuscript page, the strokes are visually similar to the gesture of hand-written script rather than a highly measured and refined typeface. Gutenberg’s typeface B42 is a direct development of medieval gothic script, what is used on the page from a Missal (Eggebeen).

After examining the similarities of these two codex pages, the question of why and who was Gutenberg aiming to target with his influenced design arises.

Gutenberg Produced his text in Latin as well as German (The British Library) much different from manuscripts which were fully Latin and intended for scholars, making Gutenberg’s work appealing to those who could understand two different languages, a benefit  that would soon see letterpress books become embraced by broader groups, and spread across Europe rather than remain centrally restricted to Germany (Eskilson 15). At a time of competition and desire make money in the book market, the similarities that Gutenberg uses to make his text connected to a likeness with high standards of beuty that manuscripts held associations with cleverly present a familiarity to consumers (Eskilson 15), making his product have a successful potential. The mechanized reproduction process allowed for more efficient reproduction that would make books more available and consumable objects of profit.

Using gothic script, layouts, and ornamentation reminiscent of the past was an effective way of Gutenberg introducing a new unfamiliar printing process to the public in a familiar manner. His 42 Line Bible is an incunabula that broadened audiences to books through language and reproduction, appealed to the cultural shift away from knowledge centering on the catholic church and towards knowledge as mechanization. For these reasons, the text and process of letterpressed printing became adapted through its influences from manuscripts smoothly into society of the Early Modern Era across Europe.

 

Works Cited:

Eskilson, Stephen John. Graphic design: a new history. 2nd ed., Laurence King Publishing, 2012. Print.

Eggebeen, Janna. “What is Graphic Design? Why Study Its History?” Lecture #1, 9 Jan. 2017, Toronto, OCAD University, Rm 190.

Eggebeen, Janna. “19th Century Graphic Design: Mass Culture and Mass Production” Lecture #2, 16 Jan. 2017, Toronto, OCAD University, Rm 190.

“Making of the Bible – the Types.” Treasures in Full, The British Library, 21 July 2004, www.bl.uk/treasures/gutenberg/type.html.

Image Sources:

Flask, Dominic. “ Johannes Gutenberg.” Gutenberg : Design Is History, www.designishistory.com/1450/gutenberg/.

“Manuscript Leaf with Initial M, from a Missal.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017, www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/466241.

 

 

 

Creative Synesthesia- Yueyin Ni

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge is a colour lithograph created by artist El Lissitzky during the war in Russia. It is a constructivism art work. “This picture represents the red and white Russians who fought in the war. The red wedge is a representation of the red army, and also the side who El Lissitzky wanted to be victorious in the war” (Utopia/Dystopia).

El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919. Color lithograph, 191/2 *28 in (49.5 *71.4 cm). Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919. Color lithograph, 191/2 *28 in (49.5 *71.4 cm). Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

El Lissitzky divided the whole composition into half-white and half black. A huge red triangle was placed in the centre that pierces into a white circle, which creates the focal point.

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge is a two-coloured lithograph. Although the colour palette that used was simple, I can feel the motion and movement through those simple geometric shapes. A lot of design principles is happened there such as contrast and focal point to catch the audiences’s eyes. The whole composition is dynamic appealing and full of tension. The artist demonstrated the condition of the war by using metaphors. We can definitely feel the tension of the war through those geometric abstract shapes. “El Lissitzky makes a simple, direct emotional appear to the viewer” (Eskilson 194).

As a synesthete myselfwhen looking at this piece of art work, I could hear a loud crack sound. Those red triangular shapes reminds me of the broken pieces of glass. The edges of the shapes make me feel sharp pain on my skin. The red colour reminds me of the smell and the taste of the blood. The black part smells like weapons made by steel which tastes cold and sweet while the white part smells like the cold air floating on the early morning battlefield before the sunrise.

Work Cited

Eskilson, Stephen John. Graphic design: a new history. second ed., Laurence           King Publishing, 2012.

“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.” Utopia/Dystopia, 1 Jan. 2013,                         utopiadystopiawwi.wordpress.com/constructivism/el-lissitzky/beat-the-whites-with-the- red-wedge/.

Creative Synesthesia

Expressionism (early 20th century) was a time period when art, design, music and literature was embraced through the use of emotional and spiritual visions. Opposed to the previous movements, Expressionism was more so about conveying the ways things felt to the artist rather than how the things looked. More notably, lines, colour, texture and composition as a whole was considered in order to properly communicate the sensation felt by the artist. Furthermore, a prime example of this was presented through the evident style of abstractionism, specifically those that were painted by Wassily Kandinsky.

Wassily Kandinsky, 1911 ‘Composition IV’

 

Kandinsky’s composition creates an environment where things are meant to feel almost chaotic and noisy. As demonstrated through how the lines contrast from thick to fairly thin, it is communicating as you were in a city setting where you hear the cars beeping, wind passing through the tunnels between buildings, the sounds of people’s mindless chatter on the streets. If there were music attached to this composition, it would be that of one that has sharp notes that subtly fall and come back up during rush hour. The colour choice being used for this composition also communicates the idea of the certain areas being more dense with sound and disruptions while other areas with minimal colours are more dead and less to be seen as the ‘heart of downtown’. More so that the areas that are warmer colours seem lively as if there are tourist attractions; the colour yellow portrays the idea of the warmth which makes me think that of street food being there because areas dense with food being made have a tendency to be more humid. The blue areas communicate the idea of shade and coolness because it looks like they are created from the shades of the buildings. In addition, the minimalistic and abstractive view of how things are placed creates the feeling of being almost in a cage because of how crowded the area feels with colour and stark black line on the page, as if it was almost hard to breath.

Looking at this design, the composition certainly gives me an idea of being in downtown during a street festival where you can feel the warmth on a sunny hot summer day, crowded and sweaty from how humid the area is as you make your way through mouth watering street food that you can really only have once a year. You can smell the oil from the meat being barbecued, heavy and dense in the air just from passing by it as you would be bumping into people while walking because there is so little space to begin with.

The visual qualities of the style that Kandinsky often likes to work in place me into a state where I am often able to relate to the composition. The composition is so abstract that it reminds me of how I could possibly be anywhere in the piece and travelling around from one area to another. The senses that are most prominently communicated in this piece is that of sound and feeling, mostly because the piece feels chaotic with the stark black lines and placement of all the colours of the rainbow. The link between the visual to our senses are often overlooked when we don’t have experiences to connect it to. Often times, people do become more connected to a composition if they are able to recall an experience from just looking at it.

Works Cited:

Expressionism – The Spirit of Expressionist Art, www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/art_movements/expressionism.htm.

McMullen, Roy Donald. “Wassily Kandinsky.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 14 Mar. 2017, www.britannica.com/biography/Wassily-Kandinsky.

“Improvisation 28 (Second Version).” Guggenheim, 19 Jan. 2018, www.guggenheim.org/artwork/1861.

Creative Synesthesia: Sonia Delaunay – Mengyuan Li

Creative Synesthesia – Sonia Delaunay

Mengyuan Li   3155551

Sonia Delaunay, Blaise Cendrars, 1913, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, illustrated book with watercolor applied through pochoir and relief print on paper, 200 x 35.6 cm, Princeton University Art Museum
Sonia Delaunay, Blaise Cendrars, 1913, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, illustrated book with watercolor applied through pochoir and relief print on paper, 200 x 35.6 cm, Princeton University Art Museum

Sonia Delaunay is a French artist who founded the Orphism art movement, she was famous for the use of strong colours and geometric shapes in her works in modern design. The word “Orphism” means mythical musician Orpheus, whose music was so beautiful that it could even charm inanimate objects. It was quite common in this era for painters to invoke classical music as model for abstract painting in an attempt to explain how beauty could exist in a picture that lacked clear subject matter (Eskilson 145).

In 1913, Sonia Delaunay collaborated with a French poet, Blaise Cendrars, to make one of the most compelling modernist combinations of word and image ever created: their illustrated book La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (Eskilson 145). It is a triumph of synesthesia, it hears the poem’s sounds as colour, its rhythms as shapes. Delaunay’s passages of brilliant colour do not directly illustrate the text, but rather try to complement its feeling in visual terms. The narrow, elongated format of the work echoes the form of a train or railroad track (Eskilson 146).

Synesthesia’s form is varied, here I  want to talk about my feelings of this work in terms of colour and sound, refers to the interaction between colour vision and auditory sense. There seems to be always a “natural marriage” between colour and sound that is intertwined with and infiltrated by one another and applies its own advantages.

In Delaunay’s painting, her use of brilliant high saturated red, blue, yellow, green and other colours, reminds me of a stream of endless music at the concert.

To me, red in this work reminds me of the magnificent power of music, like a Rhapsody, with an epic and heroic illusion. However, when she adds white into the aggressive red, it becomes pink, the sound of music suddenly subsided, it is filled with a sense of tranquility and graceful harmony, the Rhapsody turns into a Serenade, romantic, elegant and imaginative. Green  makes me think of a zither’s solo. It shows a harmonious picture with elegant melodies and soothing rhythms. With the darkening of green, the music falling layer by layer, just like the sunset. The sacredness of blue, reminding me of the Baroque music, the elaborate, noble music, gorgeous and magnificent, has such a strong appeal. Yellow is the brightest and most vivid colour in this work. It’s full of complex thoughts and emotions, just like a cheerful music with a passionate dancing, shows the emotions vividly.

Of course, there are thousands of colors that people can visually recognize. The primary colours have their own secondary colour, and the secondary colours can be formulated into different kinds of colours. It is just like the changes of music melody, the beat of every note can be transformed with subtle colours. This abstract and vivid emotion change requires viewers to feel physically and mentally.

 

Work Cited

Eskilson J. Stephen. Graphic Design: A New History, Second Edition. Yale University Press, 2012.

Jamie Kathleen. ” Sonia Delaunay: the avant-garde queen of loud, wearable art.” The Guardian, 27, Mar. 2015, theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/27/sonia-delaunay-avant-garde-queen-art-fashion-vibrant-tate-modern. Accessed 20 Jan 2018.

Creative Synesthesia – Sidney Tran

Creative Synesthesia

Sidney Tran

3155052

Background Information

The art movement I have decided to translate its visual qualities into another sense is cubism. Cubism is a highly influential visual arts movement of the 20th century that was developed by the artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914. Cubism emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modelling and chiaroscuro, and reject theories that are should imitate nature. Cubist painters were not fond of copying form, texture, colour and space. Instead, they conveyed a new vision in paintings that reflected completely fragmented objects (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2017).

The particular cubist painting I am going to be translating into a taste is Guernica by Pablo Picasso. This is Picasso’s most famous work and is his most powerful political statement. The painting reflects his reaction to the Nazi’s casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica reflects the tragedies of war and the suffering it causes upon individuals, in particular innocent civilians (https://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp).

Guernica by: Pablo Picasso 

http://www.museoreinasofia.es/sites/default/files/obras/DE00050_0.jpg

Translation 

Below is a recipe that translates the visual qualities of Guernica into a taste.

Dark Roast Coffee Cake 

Ingredients:

10 cups of ground dark roast coffee

1 cup of cinnamon

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup of milk

1 tsp sugar

1 cup flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 cup salt

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl. Combine eggs, vanilla and milk together.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ground dark roast coffee.
  3. Combine egg mixture with flour mixture. Pour the batter into a pan.
  4. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

How the visual qualities of Guernica are expressed in taste

For my recipe, I decided to use 10 cups of ground dark roast coffee to reflect the dark and bitter times the innocent civilians of Guernica suffered through during the Spanish Civil War. The colours in this work are also dark with no vibrant colours, so I wanted to reflect it by how dark roast coffee is really bitter and bold with a lack of sweet or flavourful taste to it. If the work had some colour in it, I think it would have a lot of bold flavourful tastes to it. But since it’s dark, I believe it would taste bitter. Cubist artworks are entirely fragmented as well, so I reflected this idea through how my ingredients don’t make rational sense considering some ingredients are used way more than others and creates an unbalanced/unpleasant taste. Cubist works reject formal principles of design and I conveyed this idea through the imbalance of ingredients, which creates an unpleasant taste. The unpleasant taste reflects the unpleasant feelings the innocent civilians suffered through during the Spanish Civil War. There is very little sugar used in the recipe to reflect how not a lot of “sweet” stuff went on during the war, since people were dying and suffering. The 1 cup of cinnamon reflects the figure with both arms raised up, burning in what looks like fire in the very right side of the work. The taste of cinnamon reflects this because it has sort of spicy taste to it, which symbolizes fire since it is hot.

Sources

https://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp

https://www.britannica.com/art/Cubism

Creative Synesthesia – Edwina Mui

Art Nouveau , or “New Art”is the new style that was created in the latter part of the nineteenth century which European believed that the world was fostered by the Industrial Revolution.  It is inspired by the natural form of objects, such as the curves from plants.

frances_macdonald_-_a_pond_1894
France Macdonald, A Pond, 1892.
Watercolor. Glasgow School of Art.

This art piece, A Pond, is by artist Frances Macdonald, which is one of her first work and was published in The Magazine.  The Magazine is a journal that organized by a group of progressive students.  A Pond is a water-colour work that combines curved shaped figures and water plants symmetrically. Despite the textual element, the left and right side are mirror images. 

Imagine this art piece as a hotdog, the canvas is the bun and the water plants and self portraits is the sausage, which is the main soul of a hotdog.  The decorative text on two sides are ketchup and mustard that are here to enhance the flavor.  If you fold this artwork in half, it is a hotdog that is delicious and ready to serve!

WORK CITED:

Eskilson, Stephen John. Graphic design: a new history. Conn., 2012.

Creative Synesthesia

How would graphic design sound, smell or taste like?

The Art Nouveau movement was the influential movement in France during the 19th Century. The term “Art Nouveau,” translates to english as “New Art,” and has reached across the globe. The subject matter is decorative, organic designs that derive from classic and rococo paintings, with crisp, simplified figures. This movement widespread to America, England, and Belgium, and Art Nouveau became boldly known for its asymmetry and flat colours. Art Nouveau changed the way the world looks at illustration, art and design, and can be  successfully applied to the concept of synesthesia.

180px-cheret_jules_-_la_loie_fuller_pl_73

by Jules Chéret

Jules Chéret’s  work “Le Loie Fuller,” 1893, is a lithographic print of the infamous dancer Loie Fuller. Chéret is considered to be “the originator of the artistic lithographic poster,” and  he successfully utilizes the principles of design to create an illusion of synesthesia in this piece. First, colour plays an important role; the combination of bright flowing oranges and greens contrast against the black background and their loose placement shows a repetition of movement around the figure. This creates the synesthesia of being able to hear this woman’s movement, specifically the movement of her clothing. The colour harmony of black, orange, yellow, red and black balances out and would create the taste of citrus due to that flowing composition. Additionally, the placement of the figure against the background provides a level sense of unity in the piece. The movement in this piece is crucial to convey due to the the fact that this is an ad for a dancer. The colours, which imply taste, must be refreshing and inviting to the eyes. Overall this iconic print invites the viewer in and allows them to feel the senses through line, colour, repetition, movement and overall unity.

Sources:

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/5615

https://www.yaneff.com/html/plates/pl73.html

Creative Synesthesia- Jhenny Castillo

Creative Synesthesia-Jhenny Castillocheret_jules_-_la_loie_fuller_pl_73

Jules Chéret Le Loie Fuller poster

Folies-Bergère, Paris, 1893

Jules Chéret’s Le Loie Fuller poster created in 1893 explores an intricate adaptation of design principles through hierarchy, balance, typography, repetition, and space. As a whole, Chéret’s poster expresses a prominent, organized and abrupt hierarchal layout. The hierarchy highlights and contrasts the colors shown on the poster. Specific colors within this piece correspond in harmonies with one another— just as the muted green in the shadows juxtapose the corresponding colors of red, orange, and yellow vibrantly displaying within the main figure. The qualitative features of the poster contribute towards the form and balance in a uniform style that distributes an asymmetrical piece cohesively. From a typographic facet, the text on top is simplified, however, the text on the bottom” Le Loie Fuller” poster contains tension from the foot of the main figure. And lastly the space within the composition can be described as a blank untouched area that surrounds the main figure, these features allow the composition’s contrast to stand out more with the flow of the figure’s line work and movement, thus creating a consistent piece.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9x9U_DZypw

In this case, these principles of design of the poster can also translate into sight, hearing, taste smell and touch.  Its hierarchal layout and typography sound like a snare drum’s solo that creates sharp, consistent yet rhythmic beat that structures the composition of the poster in an organized and consistent manner. The colors further impact the movement of the piece and vibrate gracefully like that of an angel’s voice, soft yet so strong. Colors in this composition create various harmonies of voices flowing together like an acapella.  The red is depicted as a bright and vibrant cherry tomato, a flavor filled with organic and fresh goodness like no artificial flavor can ever obtain. Orange and yellow contain a crispy appearance like bell peppers with a captivating and tempting crunch biting into it. All these vegetables are juxtaposed with green leafy greens in a basket that came hand picked off the farm. This piece provides a garden-fresh yet uniform scent that creates a statement of reliability and consistency. Yet, the darkness surrounds these descriptions as if it were a frame of an unending pit, feelings of tension and uncertainty. Touch within the figure almost feels too antique and valuable in the confident strokes and movement, seeing it as an untouched field of flowers.

 

Works Cited

Chéret, Jules. “Jules Chéret. Folies-Bergère, La Loïe Fuller (Loïe Fuller at the Folies-Bergère). 1893 | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art, www.moma.org/collection/works/5615.

Miller Joji. Youtube , Jan 20, 2018 , Web. Jan 27, 2018 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9x9U_DZypw.>

Design Inspiration

Design Inspiration

The sans serif typeface was designed in 19th century as the second picture shown. According to the font’s self-meaning in French, “sans serif” means without serif which is the characteristic of this typeface. The radnika typeface is a later modern font which supports certain languages, including Basic Latin, Western European, Euro, Baltic, Turkish, Central European, Romanian, Pan African Latin, and Pinyin. It is convinced that the radnika typeface is inspired by the sans serif typeface somehow, because these two fonts share several similar features. For example, the radnika font has no serifs anywhere in its design as the sans serif font does. In addition, it fairly has little or no differences for the strokes in every single letter. This is a prominent feature in sans serif typeface as well. The distance in radnika’s strokes for all letters are roughly equal; the head for some letters are flat, such as “k”, “d”, “i” and so on. Overall, it effectively indicates that the radnika typeface is inspired by the sans serif typeface, since they are similar in lots of characteristics.

screen-shot-2018-01-19-at-1-50-35-pm

screen-shot-2018-01-19-at-2-54-20-pm

Reference:

Pradil, Alfredo Marco. “Radnika™ Typeface.” Behance, 24 Mar. 2016, www.behance.net/gallery/33818984/Radnika-Typefacehttp:/.

Farley, Jennifer. “The Sans Serif Typeface.” SitePoint, SitePoint, 16 Oct. 2009, www.sitepoint.com/the-sans-serif-typeface/.

Imaginary Interview with Alphonse Mucha

Q: Today we are here with the iconic artist most notable during the Art Nouveau period of 1890-1910, Alphonse Mucha. In your early career as an artist, you were just illustrating for magazines and advertisements until your big break with “Gismonda”. Could you tell us a bit about that job?

Poster for "Gismonda", Alphonse Mucha 1894
Poster for “Gismonda”, Alphonse Mucha 1894

A: Well, Sarah was a popular French stage actress and my biggest muse. I first met her in 1894 when I was still illustrating for odd jobs. She called the printing company I was helping out at demanding a rush order for a poster for her new production, “Gismonda”. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for me, since all the regular artists were out on vacation and I was like a last resort to get the job done. Needless to say, the poster jump started my career and the rest is history.

Q: What do you think it is that made your work stand out from the crowd of other Parisian artists?

A: I believe my style to be very eye-catching due to the limited palette, flat colours, and of course, the organic and floral motifs combined with beautiful women. My style is very new and unique for the time, and I’m sure will carry on for years to come.

Q: Why do you rely so heavily on featuring women in your work?

A: During this time, society was very masculine and harsh. I wanted to go against that with the complete opposite: femininity, beauty, and sex appeal. They add another element of delicacy and felinity to the floral motif.

Q: Would you ever considering featuring men in your work?

A: Like I said, I don’t want to add to the macho images of men fighting in wars at the time, but I did do some nationalist pieces later in my career: “Poster for the 8th Sokol Festival Prague 1926” in 1925 uses my typical style of organic and floral images, but is not as successful with depictions of strong men instead of dainty women.

"Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926", Alphonse Mucha 1925
“Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926”, Alphonse Mucha 1925

Q: What would you say to critics that refer to your work as shallow or simply decorative, like with your series “The Flowers” in 1898?

"The Flowers", Alphonse Mucha 1897
“The Flowers”, Alphonse Mucha 1897

A: Decorative, perhaps. I believe art should add beauty to the world. I’ve heard critics accuse me of using women as just another form of decoration along with the flowers, but I disagree. My style is best suited for elegant images, not crowded streets or a day in the park like my counterparts. I want to walk the street and see my posters adding beauty to the sidewalk. If art is ugly, who would want it?

Q: Why would you want your artwork to be featured on commercial or household products instead of galleries?

A: I want beauty to be in people’s everyday lives, not just for the rich that can afford it. I believe that art can improve peoples lives and morals. Even if there is no deeper meaning behind a piece, just looking at something stunning can lift one’s spirits and inspire them to add something positive to the world. Why should only a select few people get to experience something amazing?

Q: Why do you think your art is suited for graphic design?

A: Although my pieces are very ornamental and detailed, they still feature some very graphic elements, like the bold line work and flat colours. I keep the design elements in mind as I go about creating an illustration, and keep typography in mind. For company products, I always incorporate the company’s name or initials in the background so that the piece is unified.

Q: What kind of products have your designs been featured on?

A: Almost anything! I am most known for my posters and advertisements, but I did a lot of work for perfume bottles and biscuit wrappers. Imitations of my work have also been seen on other household products like tea and soap. My style makes these products stand out on a shelf in the shop, which makes the company happy, thus making me very happy!

Q:  Which product do you feel featured your best work?

A: That would have to be a piece i did for JOB cigarette papers. It featured my signature floral motifs and beautiful woman, combined with the smoke of a cigarette. But she’s not just puffing away like a chimney–she appears sensual and alluring, with the smoke and her hair flowing around her. It was so elegant that the viewer would forget that it was for a cigarette company!

"JOB", Alphonse Mucha 1896
“JOB”, Alphonse Mucha 1896

Q: Your work was seen everywhere during your time, and even saw its revival during the 1960’s Art Nouveau revival. The style was and still is unique, distinguishable, and of course, beautiful.

 

 

Works Cited

Alphonse Mucha Artist Overview and Analysis”. [Internet]. 2018. TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst
Available from: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-mucha-alphonse.htm
[Accessed 12 Jan 2018

Foundation, Mucha. “Poster for “Gismonda” – Sarah Bernhardt.” Mucha Foundation, www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/themes/theme/sarah-bernhardt/object/21.

Rowland, Hazel. “More to Mucha than meets the eye – or is there?” Apollo Magazine, 1 Nov. 2016, www.apollo-magazine.com/alphonse-mucha-kelvingrove/.