Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Art of Posters

Author's Note: This project intrigued me, especially the Great Ideas of Western Man. Thought it would also interest some of you. My take is at the very bottom. 
Let me know what you think and thank you for reading.
History of Graphic Design: Research Project
by Jane Victoria King
November 29, 2011

Poster Communication from the Father of the Modern Poster to The Great Ideas of Western Man
Initially I began this project with the idea that posters are either art or advertising and a medium with meaning that has shifted over time.  
That part is true.
However, pivotal in communicating to the masses a variety of messages, there are two ways of doing that. Through both art and design. A separation I initially contemplated to of encapsulated borders.
As my readings and revelations unfolded, I discovered what was then, is still true today. A poster is the medium. The message is through both the art and design of it.
Eye catching or informative, purposes unravel over time to include: entertainment (movies, opera, theatre, film, art, music), public service announcement, protests, travel, sports, heath, education, crime prevention, education, housing, exhibitions, social injustice, product advertising and even corporate identity.
Target market: generally speaking - eye level pedestrian traffic.
This form of visual communication expanded with the onset of lithography in the late 1700’s. Typography and design took on the transmission of information to new dimensions.
According to Meggs’ History of Graphic design (Philip Meggs and Alston W. Purvis), the Father of the Modern Poster, Jules Chéret (1836-1932, France) is credited with putting an art gallery on the streets, along with fostering the advancements of printing to service both the manufacturing and trade industries.
Art is created as a means of self-expression, whereas advertising is made with an intention - a message. Posters become one with the other. The message being the feeling.
Cherét revolutionized poster design by exuding daring colour contrasts and individuality through illustrations. He expressed beauty in pictorial imagery with women portrayed with joy and happiness. They became known as the Chérettes.
With the printing press, poster printing or lithography began production in mass (1848), also thanks to Cherét. As both an artist and lithographer, his input into the process of volume colour printing was critical in the mass production of posters.
Replacing typographic letterpress posters with pictorial lithographic poster printing.
Posters generated reactions. Excitement. With timeless art and design. They were creative statements. Generating ideas. Emotions. Significant rhythm, texture and vibrancy through their colour, illustration and design. Visually alluring to stop you in your tracks.
Even the uneducated were in insightful on the meanings behind each display.
The industry of poster production evoked a law in France for official posting placing with a tax stamp or fee (according to the Wet Canvas Museum Artists).
Cherét to his credit produced over a thousand posters often running 200,000 copies at a time to dimensions as tall as seven feet (printed in sections).
Sadly, the transmission of information through posters began to dwindle after 1900. Here, in history some say the posters became the advertisements.
An art form with commercial uses.
Shifting from poster design to corporate identity and moving to the post war era, a remarkable engagement of design and words were married together with the Container Corporation of America’s Great Ideas of Modern Man (1950-1975) campaign.
Herein, at the helm with others, Herbert Bayer (1900-1985, Austria/U.S.) transmitted an innovative era in poster communication and corporate identity.
Philosophers paired with artists. Series after series portrayed messages of value with intelligent, consistent and progressive social responsibility.
The truth in the emphasis on design to the corporate monopoly can be credited to CCA’s, founder and Industrialist, Walter Paepcke (1896-1960) who inspired by his wife, Elizabeth, an artist readily embraced the significance of the design culture. Hiring a precedent setting corporate designer director.
The Chicago based company manufactured cardboard boxes. Who would of thought their attention on design would become so enduring.
Some historical references, the Milton Glaser Design Study Center in New York, for example, credit Bayer himself as the brainchild of the campaign. While Meggs’ History of Design, by Philip Meggs and Alston W. Purvis document that Paepcke and his wife attended a Great Books discussion group. Here two scholars, Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer Adler were discussing the ideas contained in their series, the Great Books of the Western World.
However it began, Bayer’s influence as a design consultant and artist was evident.  
His artistic influence began early with a small watercolor box. He lived in Austria near a country jail where he engaged with prisoners through art. Creative expressions with youth in this era weren’t necessarily encouraged. (The Way Behind Art, the Work of Herbert Bayer, by Alexander Dorner).
He illustrated copies from a book of wisdom called Over Land and Sea. Engaged in the outdoors and the mountains, he later became active in the Wandervogel Youth Movement. Education in the values of companionships on hikes in mountains, art, poetry, etc.
His intention to study art was cut short with the death of his father at age 17. The Academy of Vienna was shelved.
Later he moved to Germany and worked with an architect, Emanuel Margold of the Viennese School in an artist’s colony known as, Mathildenhohe.
The reasons for illustrating Bayer in depth are here. A book he read, About the Spiritual in Art, by Wassily Kardinsky had a profound affect on his psyche and later his art.
He gathered weekly with friends for exchanges of thoughts. Here he discovered the Bauhaus. Rumoured to accept applicants once they created a drawing or painting – after being locked into a dark room with thunder and lightning affects. A method to agitate the artist to see what comes out.
Bayer also called the Bauhaus a creative force. Became a student, then a teacher of typography. Himself designing a series of typefaces. As others before him had done, eliminating the capitals for simplicity and to the benefit of the design.
Now the writings of Bayer possess his urge to intensify the language of public communication. He does so in poster design and book covers. The expression of the soul of nature and humanity (Wassily Kandinsky, About the Spiritual in Art) is clear.
The Great Ideas of Modern Man steered the public into modern artists’ spirits with words from a conglomerate of great thinkers.
The poster medium hasn’t gone anywhere. Its art and colours continue to convey meaning and messages through design.
Like Saul Bass (1919-1996) once said, “Design is thinking made visual.”

Poster by Jules Cherét (1892)

The Container Corporation of America (1947)

Great Ideas of Western Man
Herbert Bayer

Great Ideas of Modern Man
Herbert Bayer and Alfred Whitehead (year unknown)

Poster Design by Jane Victoria King
What the World Needs Today

1 comment:

Westread said...

The first fifty of the Great Ideas ads are on my blog: http://westread.blogspot.co.uk/
(Ocober 2011 and March 2011)
I'm hoping to show the remaing 147 ads during 2012.