This essay will discuss the ways in which the Art Nouveau movement affected society through their representation of women in contrast with the way we know design today and how contemporary design represents women. In an ever-growing society of activists and feminists lots of designers are using their skills and platform to create design articles that would help solve ethical issues through contemporary design.
Art Nouveau translate as NEW ART, It really was a huge movement that saw things change in art, architecture, fashion and furnishings. Some would say it was the birth of graphic design. With the likes of Alphonse Mucha & Gustav Klimt making Art Nouveau very well known throughout the art and design industry which was proven by the huge rise in this style appearing throughout large buildings and fashion.
Through todays design, interiors and fashion we are seeing an era of simplicity and minimalism this was made famous in the design industry by designers such as Saul Bass & Milton Glaser.
The question that this essay will answer is how does the representation of women in modern design fair against one of the largest movements in design and how far as we come in this aspect of design.
Art Nouveau was most popular between 1890 and 1910 which was also the era that we saw department stores, Catalogs and mass production of magazines come about, Today this is something we are more than familiar with advertising is a part of our everyday life now.
Design & Advertising has always been very influenced by culture and society, This was made clear by research of the works created during the Art Nouveau period.
Art Nouveau was most popular between the years of 1890 and 1910. During these times the future was not too bright for women as a gender, The Mirror published an article regarding women and their rights at this point in time called “Everywoman in 1910: No vote, poor pay, little help – Why the world had to change” this article explains.
“All women in 1910, irrespective of social class background, were seen as second-class citizens – a fact underlined by the denial to them of the parliamentary vote.And all women were encouraged from childhood to strive to the ideal of serving others, to consider the interests of their menfolk first rather than their own.Since most women were expected to become full-time wives and mothers, rather than earn their own living, options in life were limited.”
The statements in this quote are proven by the stereotypes and representations in the artwork and advertising through this era.
Alphonse Mucha was one of the renowned artists who was very well known for his decorative Art Nouveau style. Mucha’s style of illustration took the interest of many large companies who were wanting to advertise their products and services for the first time. A majority of Mucha’s illustrations were of women in his particular style and this is something that the companies that advertised with him utilized throughout their advertising campaigns.
Nestle’s Foods was one of the companies were one of the large companies that took a liking to Mucha’s work and commissioned him to create advertising for their products for infants. Figure 1 shows an illustrative advertisement that shows a woman represented in the customary stereotype of the time of being a home-maker and mother. This was something that was expected by women of this era as demonstrated in quote previously mentioned.
Alphonse Mucha was well known for the women in his artwork being very sexualised and scantily clad throughout his pieces which is subsequently an ancient marketing device which has been proven by research of scientists.
“Scientists claim they have discovered exactly why sex sells – and it isn’t just because consumers think that if they buy the car they can get the girl. Researchers found seeing an attractive man or woman in an advert excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought.”
The Daily Mail, 22 September 2011.
Figure 2 shows another example of a women respresented as a mother and house wife although a lot more convered up and the subject looks a lot more conservative in this example.
Dada was a revolution in design in the early 20th century, Developed in reaction to World War 1 It was not like any movement we had seen yet… It used design to protest… It was all about Anti – War, Anti – Machinery & Anti – Art.
They felt that society its self acted in nonsensical ways to govern itself (i.e. World War)
They used collage, photo-surreal techniques and illustration to question meaning.
They did not comply with art or design guidelines or rules of the time, This was intended to make people think and make them come up with there own final decision based on the thoughts and feelings about the artwork.
One of the pioneers in this movement was David Carson. He create non-sensical collage work that would have hidden meaning or sometimes not.
It is hard to find meaning in any of these pieces and to look deeply into them and analysing but I suppose this is the point.. This is how they were created but it was a sense of expression.
“DADA is what you can make out of yourself” Haussmann 1968
It was created as a movement of protest,not only in Art but in politics which crossed paths very frequently in this movement.Poetry was also a large segment of this movement, The created poetry that they would read as a political standstill.
Some make sense and some not at all.
They also created Appolinair calligrams these were almost a combination of the 2 in my opinion, It brings the art and poetry together, I think personally this makes slightly more sense as we can see shapes formed and recognisable figures which is not apparent in other works.
We created this for ourselves to give us the feel of how random these could be.
It was strange to do this as it gave you a feel for how your mind really forces itself to try and make sense of the words but when you have done the process you know that these words were completely chosen at random.
We did this by going through a magazine and newspaper and cutting out random words, We then put them in a back and shook it up and let it fall onto the paper, This is how mine turned out.
I suppose it could be said that the words are chosen from what your personality is attracted to whether this is the word itself the typeface or the colour it still means it can never be completely randomly selected but your mind really does try to make sense of this and I suppose this may have been an appeal to people, to try to make sense and see what they can find in the imagery even though it makes no sense really.
Art Nouveau translate as NEW ART, It really was a huge movement that saw things change for good in art. Some would say it was the birth of graphic design.
During the era that it came about we saw department stores, Catalogs and mass production.
This was due to an invention in printing, Lithography, This made it accessible to businesses large and small to create advertising on a huge scale, They started to ask artist to create artwork and illustrations, colourise photos and create magazine adverts this led to them realising that they would need people to layout and create there advertising for them.
The people hired for this where called Graphic Designers.
They were expected to create beautiful advertising with illustrations and to suit the popular styles at the time.
As you can see below it was heavily influenced at first by Japanese prints.
This was due to the outlines and flat colours.
Also something I noticed about this style is that they use very thick and bulky lines,The almost replicates the look of stain glass window and it is very possible that this was something that was inspiring the artists at the time.
My research has taken me to look into the works of Alphonse Mucha, I have done some research into him before but wanted to look further. He was an artist/illustrator that was made famous for his advertising of women.
Its something that has always been about the whole ethos that Sex Sells is understandable but Mucha was very guilty of creating images that made women very objectified and made them into sex symbols to sell products.
The advertising below was to advertise bicycles which was a huge thing at the time anyway as women were not expected to ride bikes as it was said to take there virginity and also that the clothes they were was not appropriate to be riding bicycles in (dresses, heels etc) this makes it clear that this is an advertisement targeted at men, The placement of the manly objects, The straps of her garment, the tools and the black smith equipment shows that this is something for men, The women is placed in there just to draw the mens attention, The women is illustrated very promiscuously which is something to attract the men this is targeted to.
This was common theme within Mucha’s works, Most of the work featured a women and there was a lot stigma around his themes, More so now than at the time due to the fact that this was the norm and women where used to being represented like this but knower days its slightly more frowned upon.
Even the way that his works portray the role of gender is very stereotypical, the one shows a women feeding her baby for a nestle advert.She is what would have been seen as dressed provocatively in this era, It shows a very “sexy” women who is feeding her baby, It just says something about how women where viewed at the time.
This is another example of where a women is objectified and shown very sexually with that sort of gazing look is very typical of his work.
I have concluded from this research that through out the eras when design was created it was very normal to use women as objects and sex symbols to advertise, This is something that still exists in certain forms although not usually as obvious.
The role of women in art and design was very degrading from the beginning, I also have noticed from this that there is a huge lack of multi – cultural representation, all the women are very white and there is no representation which makes a hint at the fact that this was not seen as beautiful at the time.
a movement in the arts and literature which originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.
Believe it or not romanticism has absolutely nothing to do with romance, love or cupid….. After researching and researching it seems romanticism in my opinion is a very hard to define… It was very broad and encompassed lots of different styles this is because from my understanding the movement although not having anything to do with romance was about passion for the artist who created it.
It was one of the first movements where by the artist would show there passion, love or drive for something through there art.
It was very personal but adapted to lots of different themes and also lots of different media, It not only inspired visual artists but also figures like Beethoven and novels such as The HunchBack of Notre-Dame.
After doing some research the internet has taken me from link to link and it came to my attention that these medias sometimes crossed over during the romanticism movement.
This painting is called “Abduction of Rebecca”
This painting was by Eugene Delacroix inspired by a scene from by Sir Walter Scotts novel “Ivanhoe”.
This happened a lot during this movement, I believe this was because it was all about what inspired of provokes feelings within you, It was art with any sort of inspiration or passion behind it.
It was the first movement that really encouraged people to create art from there personal experiences, passions and beliefs, this is something that is greatly encouraged in todays art and something that then become very popular, This sort of became what art was about,Expressing yourself.
This painting is a very famous painting of the Romanticism movement, it is called “Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog”. something I noticed in this painting is the mans stance. I think this portrays a very strong and manly stance, very demanding and ruling.
I find this very interesting not only because this is portraying perhaps an unrealistic stereotype of men but also that from what I found about the way women are represented in romanticism paintings.
Although this was during a period when women where seen as the weaker sex the females are portrayed in a very inferior way and all shown as weaker or in the more submissive role to the men.
This Eugène Delacroix Painting , Death of Sardanapalus just illustrates this point I was making about women being shown as weaker and submissive,The men are illustrated as “kings” and laying on beds or standing tall where the women as laying on the floor unclothed. The women are made to look as if they are longing after the men, Although a beautiful painting the representation of gender is very stereotypical.
As you can see in the bottom right hand corner the roles of gender are extremely exaggerated, The man seems almost as if he is hurting the women, he keeps his modesty whilst she looks like she is being forced to being unclothed.
From this research I have started to gain an understanding for how more traditional art movements show the roles of gender, It was not surprising to me as this art movement was around in the 18th century, It was not until the 19th century that feminism or a refusal of the feminine role in society was bought to the foreground.
Women were not even allowed to vote until 1918 so again this is not surprising.
With this being the art of the time and a huge movement it is worrying the messages this would be instilling into the audiences.
Aim – Explore VTS as a way into both contextual and theory.
Initially Sancha showed us this image, She did not give us any context about this and then asked us a few questions, We gathered from this that firstly “She’s serving him a pint” We then went round the class and people had different further thoughts.
We then had the idea that he may be traveller, We noticed he had dirty feet, A dog, a bag and a pipe.
We then picked out that it could be a pub due to the top right hand corner we thought there may be a pub sign and she looked like she may be a bar maid and this might be how they dressed back then.
We first decided that we thought this would have been a murder due to the state of the man and the “Body found in Mitre square” type at the bottom, We decided we thought this was a city due to the fact there is a very dark and gloomy feel to the illustration.
The hats and outfits would assume they were like city slickers, You wouldn’t tend to get men dressed like this in the country side.
We thought this was maybe like a first version of social housing during the industrial revolution, My view on this was that it looked very built up and also that it had a sense of gloom and poverty. We could tell it was a very detailed illustration and the smoke and architecture told us that it was during the industrial revolution.
We then were told the purpose of this, We were doing this to give us an understanding of how we learn and how our brain uses the things we already now to make assumptions about new images with no context.
It showed that all of our different ideologies gave us different views on the separate images.This was really interesting to look at not only because it gave us an idea of how audiences with different ideologies would see our design differently.
It also made me realise that when researching we need to look further into an image or text to gain as much information as possible.
It is important to not take research material on face value but to look further into it and take all information you can from a particular article.
“You must write an essay of 2,000-2,500 words on a topic of your choice from the list below.
When selecting your topic you must consider the DETAIL, rather than presenting a chronological list. Each essay title will require a specific case study or two from which to draw wider conclusions. In other words, do not try to write about everything in history but choose a movement, artist, a smaller time period, an aspect of an issue and so on, on which to focus your debate. Within this wider case study you can then include “sub case studies” of specific imagery, artefacts and so on from which to draw out comments about style and meaning.
You should reflect on this topic in a critical manner, demonstrating your own independent research into it.
As well this you must describe how your own design practice stands in relation to the topic. While some essays may address this throughout, if yours does not you may prefer to use the last 500 words or so to discuss this section. In the main body of the essay you must use the third person (“it was found that”) but if you use a small last section ONLY, in this last section about relating your topic to yourself, you are permitted to use first person (“In my design practice I do such and such”).
You must include labelled imagery of specific design pieces mentioned in your text, as well as images of your own design work. Make sure that these are fully labelled and referenced. As well, you should label each image fig. 1; fig. 2 (etc), in the order in which they appear in your text. Embed images, do not include as a separate item.
Include a full bibliography in the Harvard style. “
Having read this a few times through, I have thought about how I could do this in the most organised and time effective way of doing this whilst running along side my other briefs, I will leave time to ensure that I have time to proof read and also ensure I have time to effectively research to back up everything written in my essay with effective case studies and research, I don’t want to write about something I haven’t been informed really well in.
We then had to choose the topic we will write on.
In what ways has design of the past challenged mainstream norms?
In what ways has technological innovation and development posed a threat to graphic design or given it an opportunity to flourish in new directions?
Compare and contrast instances of propaganda and/or design activism.
In what ways have the debates about the benefits or disadvantages of either machinery or hand-craft manifested in graphic design?
In what ways has sustainability been an active issue in the graphic design of the past and the present?
Discuss the role and/or status of graphic design [“commercial art”] in relation to the other arts and crafts.
In what ways have visual communication and/or graphic design experiments been used to convey meanings about Utopia or a better world?
Discuss the representation of either women or race in historical and/or contemporary graphic design.
I have decided I will be writing my essay based on number 8.
Discuss the representation of either women or race in historical and/or contemporary graphic design.
I will be writing about the representation women in graphic design.
I have chosen this title as this suits me the best and also fits nicely to inform me of things I have been working on in the past few months with other projects and is something I am very passionate about therefore feel it will keep my interest for longer and give me the ability to research with a lot more interest.
This is something massive in Graphic Design and something I am excited to start researching.