The industrial revolution began in the eighteenth century; machines replaced handicrafts and changed social structure and the modes of production. One of the significant changes is that the revolution changed women’s role in society. The advent of machines in the Industrial Revolution minimized the individual differences between men and women workers, and some jobs were only for women. Therefore, the movement gave those women a chance, enabled women to play an essential role in factories. I read an article and it mentioned that “whoever is at all acquainted with the actual state of poor families must often have had to observe how greatly the internal comfort and well-being of such families depend upon the Industry, skill, good management, and economic habits of woman” (Valenze 130). It implies that during the Industrial Revolution, the living standards of working-class families were improved mainly depended on women, not the wages of male. With the development of capitalism and the Enlightenment of thoughts enhanced women’s sense of independence.
At the same time, with the development of printing technologies and a high level of consumption, posters became a landscape in Paris. The thoughts of women’s independent influenced design concepts of graphic designers and their posters help to reconstruct people’s ideology. Also, those graphic designers were influenced by the Japanese style; the emergence of Art Nouveau changed the aesthetics of the general public.
Alphonse Mucha was a Czech graphic artist, lived in Paris during the Art Nouveau period. After designed a poster for the opera called “Gismunda,” Mucha became famous. His other posters, named “Perfect Bike” and “Job,” clearly express his understanding and feelings about women’s independence and freedom. In 1896, Mucha designed an advertising poster for the tobacco company, called “JOB.” In the poster, the blonde hair woman holds a cigarette in her hand; and her curly hair naturally struggles over her shoulder. She seems very happy and enjoys it when she is smoking. From my perspective, the designer uses woman’s facial expression to tell everyone that women should care for their inner feeling. On the other hand, he tries to tell the public that men do not exclusively share smoking; women can enjoy the pleasure of smoking either.
In the seventeenth century, corsets had been in a popular style for years; the cloth hold bust-up shows a beautiful women’s body shape. The bicycle advertisement “Bicycle Perfecta” shows a new era of women, a beautiful woman, because of the influence of the Art Nouveau Movement. In the poster, the woman surfs on a bicycle, relaxing and comfortable. And the dress is not traditionally tied to her body; the loose cloth makes the body fully relax. Besides, using typography “Perfecta” to fit the woman’s image and implies a perfect woman feature. We can tell that the changing of clothing style not only affects the aesthetic of the general public but to underlying an ideal of freedom and independence.
It is not difficult to see that the development of the Industrial Revolution highlights the feminist and changed the designer’s design concept about the female role. Moreover, the Art Nouveau Movement’s emergence promotes and helps designers convey the ideas of women’s liberation to the public, changes the public perception of traditional women, and espouses gender equality. However, in my opinion, the change in women’s social status is a way to release men’s pressure in society because they do not need to participate and undertake all social work. On the other hand, clarifying the division of labor according to gender can also improve production efficiency and promote social development. –Author by Sizhe Zhu (Anna)