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Then is Now
Everything Old is New Again
It may be a clich\u00e9, but it has never been as true as it is today. Trends in fashion, movies, and television clearly tell us that retro is in. Television has perhaps carved out the biggest niche, particularly among the baby boomer generation with popularity of retro networks such as Nick at Nite and TVLand, both of which regularly air programs that were popular fifty years ago. Why? Perhaps a longing for the simpler days, or, is it in fact another cycle of history simply repeating its self?
The Industrial Revolution would be a good parallel to today\u2019s technological
advancements. The era known as the Industrial Revolution was a period in which
fundamental changes occurred in transportation, printing, economic policies, science and
social structure. It is in this era that the birth of Advertising emerges. Although the word
\u201cRevolution\u201d implies, \u201cabrupt change\u201d, it was a slow evolution. The same could be said
about the revolution\u2014evolution we find ourselves living in today. For the thread, which
joins all the isms in the twentieth century, is its slow evolution from one period to
Although not a completely new concept\u2014an aware designer is connected to culture, and
trend, both past and present, and having a strong historical background will only enrich an
artist\u2019s ability to visually communicate.
This historical retrospective is designed to enlighten you to the many influential
design movements and their significant traits. In order to reproduce the past one must first
be knowledgeable of it. We will also examine how art movements have built, borrowed
and used theory\u2019s and principals that have evolved throughout time to either enhance the
design evolution or in many cases rebel against the norm, and in doing so\u2014 illustrate how
art is not created by living in a vacuum, but that art is a refection of the times, socially,
technologically and economically.
THE BEGINNING OF THE 20th CENTURY
Throughout the entire one hundred years of the 20th century there were developments and
achievements that have had profound implications, in part by the tumultuous first 30
years; the Model\u00adT Ford, neon lighting, the vacuum cleaner, the assembly line, the first
airplanes, were all invented during the first twenty years while TV came into being in
Scientific breakthroughs established new ways of seeing the world, Einstein\u2019s'
theory of relativity, the atom in 1911 and the psychoanalytic investigations of Sigmund
Freud, which expanded our understanding of the mysteries of the human mind and
prompted artists, writers and poets to gaze more inwardly.
Politically\u2014in Europe at least\u2014monarchy was largely replaced by democracy and socialism. Revolutions and World War I rattled the foundations and status quo of Western civilization. Machines and technology changed everything.
Remarkable artistic developments, and advances in technology led to changes in
methods of mass communication. America and Europe became more consumer\u00addriven
and advertising loomed as an important cultural force. Print was a primary means of
communicating to the masses, and considerable effort was made to improve the medium.
With increased traffic on city streets, strategic locations along them for selling messages,
the marriage of type and image was an invaluable tool in its success.
Designer note: These sections are opptional. They can accompany the specific time periods or run as flow copy around the timeline. (sidebars, facts, tips and additional information)
\u201cThe New Typography\u201d
After WWI, paradigm shifts in the form and function of art, architecture, and even
photography. A utopian view held that art was not an entertainment for the elite, but a
utilitarian product for the masses. Type, which became both a symbol and a tool of
transformation, was one of the first indicators of this \u201cnew spirit.\u201d Russia, Germany,
Holland, Italy and Eastern Europe rejected the ornamentation styles of Art Nouveau and
were inspired to reevaluation typography. The New Typography rational was legibility
and readability. It is through a cross\u00adpollination of different designers and the sharing of
their typographic conceits that gave rise to the \u201cNew Typography.\u201d
\u201cInternational Typographic Style\u201d
During the 1950\u2019s a design movement emerged from Switzerland and Germany called
Swiss design or, more appropriately, the International Typographic Style. The objective
clarity of this design movement won converts throughout the world. It remained a major
force for over two decades, and its influence continues on to today.
The visual characteristics of this international style include a visual unity of design achieved by asymmetrical organization on a mathematically constructed grid, using only sans\u00adserif type.
In this paradigm, the designer defines his or her role not as an artist but as an
objective conduit for spreading important information between components of society.
Achieving clarity and order is the ideal.
Art Deco characteristics are diverse and far ranging and include elements pulled from
Modernism, Russian Constructivism, Art Nouveau, Greco\u00adRoman classicism, and a
myriad of exotic cultural influences. Though it was a contemporary of Bauhaus
Modernism, Art Deco distinguished itself by its romantic and elegant notions that
opposed the plain, unadorned, "form follows function." At times the style is contradictory.
The populist evocation of a simpler time, a less industrial world, was often at odds with
the technological form of the object which evoked the raw energy of new technology and
the speed of new transportation with its sleek and energized lines. "Streamlined" is a term
often used to describe the Art Deco.
An era of contradictions that encompassed both the Roaring Twenties and the
Great Depression, it imbued everyday life with elegance and sophistication.
Type was a major component of this trend, and the late 20\u2019s and 30\u2019s was a time when
type design accelerated to meet the immense needs of advertising. Like other mass
consumables, typefaces were promoted through specimen sheets as fashion accessories.
Art Deco was the style of hedonism, of indulgence, and of mass consumption.
Now bringing you back...
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