DONE BY: Josianne El Helou - Fall2009
History of Art
Art encompasses diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, posters and paintings. Its history goes back to several historic periods such as The Victorian Art Era, The Gothic and Wood Type Art Era, The Art Deco Era and The Modernist Art Era. Starting with The Victorian era, that was a time of strong moral and religious beliefs. The Victorian love for ornate complexity and fussiness was applied to architecture, furniture, interiors, fashion as well as typography and commercial art. Sentimentally, nostalgia and idealized beauty are clearly visible in the images from this era. Women’s fashion during the Victorian era reflected the ornate nature of the times. Typical houses in the classic Victorian style: ornate and romantic. Victorian taste in decoration reflected the mood if the times. Transportation design of the times was also very decorative in its approach. Early telephones were designed to fit right in with Victorian interiors. The Victorian look was heavily influenced by nostalgia for objects of the past.
In the Victorian posters curved typography was hand-engraved with the pictures. The images are framed within architectural motifs which act as borders. Victorian style almost always tries to fill every corner of the entire page with type and pictures and the packaging followed the same decorative approach. Decades later, Victorian sensibilities are still being recalled to evoke a romance with the past. In 1930s styles were attempting to capture the nostalgic Victorian feeling with hand-drawn type. Even today, a romance with the past easily evoked with elements of Victorian style.
Secondly, The Gothic and wood type era, that was popularized during the late nineteenth century, but its antecedent dates back to around the fifth, when the Chinese invented printing using wood blocks to copy sacred texts. This involved engraving fixed characters into a single piece of wood that was then printed on treated paper. Xylography came to Europe around the fourteenth century but was superseded by Gutenberg’s development of moveable type in the mid 1450s. This revolution led to the advent of metal typefaces, which made typesetting individual characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs easier and more elegant. It has been printing and typographic standard since the respective photographic and digital type revolutions of the late twentieth century.
During the early nineteenth century, however, as an alternative to hot metal type founding, wood type came into fashion, especially in large sizes for advertisements and posters. To make wood type, engravers carved individual letters from wood cut perpendicular to the gain. This technique lost those fine and ultra thin lines achievable with metal type, but it gained a slew of bold, highly contrasting faces available at sizes larger than with metal. Dark gothic and slab serifs were well suited for wood, and certain shadowed, in-lined, and outlined letters were also concocted to add dimension to the printed page.
The primary users were commercial craftsmen known as “job printers”, who produced posters and handbills for the businesses of their day. Depending on the availability of complete fonts, job printers combined various size and styles of letters together in one composition. Since wood type fonts were fairly large, cumbersome, and degraded after repeated use, the smaller print shops could not always warehouse or maintain a complete set of fonts. Out of necessity, a distinct graphic mannerism developed, characterized by multiple dissonant type styles and sizes.
Wood type is best known today as the letter form of choice during the late nineteenth century for theatre bills, patent medicine advertisements, and circus posters. They remain such...
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