Because of an inextricable link to the ruling economic systems of the time commercial art at the turn of twentieth century tells the story of a rising middle class and changing consumer culture. Each style and form is a reflection on the influence of various socio-economic factors.
I. Brief summary of Industrial Revolution and capitalist system
a. To understand rising dominant styles in design and commercial art need to understand economic systems they exist in- capitalism.
i. One way to understand capitalism- through Foucault and Althusser
1. Capitalism as an ideological system
2. System of reciprocation between consumer and artist
a. Consumer responds to best way to advertise/disseminate ideas and products
b. Artist fulfills that demand and in turn influences the consumer ideologically
b. Industrial Revolution- shift from agrarian society to urban society
i. More leisure time
ii. New technologies:
1. Printing presses- newspapers and periodicals
iii. New products that need advertising: medicines, cosmetics, clothing, etc
II. Dominant Styles up to WWI
a. Styles which developed as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and developed from there. Reflected the needs and demands of the markets which these styles existed in- which consisted of critiquing a changing society, presenting an ideal alternative, and finally glossing over that reality to enhance it’s appeal.
b. Victorian 1830’s-early 1900’s
i. In England Prince Albert as design aficionado- helmed the Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 which set design, architechture, and engineering standards in style
ii. Embrace of printing technologies- delicate and detailed prints and reproductions. Ornate and looked to Gothic and Rococo styles
iii. Satire: Thomas NAst
iv. Idealizing life, presenting a utopia: Charles Gibson
v. Absurdist as escapism: WS Gilbert
c. Arts and Crafts/Art Noveau 1900’s-1917
i. Arts and Crafts arose as a revolt against the machine- stressed hand craft was mostly book arts. Promoted by Century Guild, Arts and Crafts Society, Art-Workers Guild
1. William Morris- established Kelmscott Press and became defacto leader of movement. Students were Aubrey Beardsley and Eric Gill
ii. Later Arts and Crafts developed into Art Noveau
1. Extended ideas of Arts and Crafts- art should be in every facet of daily life
2. Curvilinear forms drawn from natural surroundings
3. Reacting against academic styles and machines- but became big business as it was used to enhance the appeal of industrial objects.
4. High visibility- first commercial style to be applied to a broad spectrum meant it spread quickly across the world
1. Alternative style to Art Noveau which came out of Germany- simplicity in design. Used in advertising.
III. Styles after WWI and before WWII
a. Western economies were reinventing themselves after the war. Art Noveau had become irrelevant- seen as excessive. In France, Italy, and Germany- used art to help market their exports to speed economic recovery which led to the development of new styles.
b. Art Deco
i. Revealed in Paris during the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs and Industriels Modernes.
ii. A streamlined version of Art Noveau- retained the stylization but shed the excessive curvilinear forms in favor of hard edges and graphic flatness
IV. Post-Depression to Post-WWII
a. Great Depression- Art Deco seen as excessive (not sure about that maybe you guys can shed some light)