This week I visited another on campus gallery, this one was called the Bevier Gallery and the exhibition on display was work by the ceramics artist Frans Wildenhain. For the past few weeks I have been discussing different artwork based on a reading by Helmers. In the reading there are nine steps, today I will be discussing steps five through seven. First is step five which refers to what is “absent”, meaning what is not included in a particular exhibit. When visiting the exhibit there were a few things I felt were absent. One thing would be the use of color. Most of the pieces found in the Wildenhain exhibition had very neutral and earth tone colors, there were a lot of brown and tan pieces and that was fine for some but I kept wanting to see more, I feel like color would have helped this exhibition. I also feel that a sense of direction was absent in the exhibition. The majority of the time I felt I was just wondering around. There were ceramic pieces all over the gallery, but I wasn’t sure which to look at first, and I felt somewhat lost.
It seems as if I thought a lot was absent in this exhibit, this brings me to step six of Helmers. Based on my opinion of the exhibit I have to carefully examine myself. Why do I think these things? Am I biased because of another exhibit I like better, or maybe I don’t like ceramics. Do I have knowledge of other galleries and like those better. It is important to answer questions like these in order to figure out why my opinion of the exhibit is what it is. I believe that because I have been to a lot of galleries, and maybe because I work at a Museum, I have knowledge of what I think exhibits should look like. I find myself liking exhibits that have more structure and movement to them. I think that is why I find myself criticizing this exhibit, because I know what to look for.
After viewing the exhibit, I found that there was one particular literal element that stood out to me the most. Step seven of Helmer’s is to find out how this affected me. The element was lighting, and well the lack of it. I visited the gallery on one of the nights it was open. It was dark outside and there was no natural light coming in, therefore I was viewing the exhibition with the light that was provided in the gallery space. I was very disappointed, the lighting was so dim and this made it hard to view what was on display. The bad lighting made me feel like the work being shown was not worth seeing.
Overall I think the show was a bit disappointing. The work was nice, but I feel more could have been done to make this show worth going to see again. I think the curator did a great job with the visuals, I got a lot of information with the words that were shown, as well as the cards that were available to take. This was a nice touch, like we could take something with us from the show.
One sunny morning this week, I opened my mailbox to find a beautiful turquoise envelope. I knew immediately what it was because only one company comes to mind when I see that color. I opened the envelope and inside was their new “Fall 2012” catalogue. I always love the design aspect of Tiffany’s catalogues, and as I was browsing there was one particular page that stood out to me. Although there are pages and pages with multiple images on them, the particular page that caught my eye only had one. It was an image showcasing the newest collection, and although there is only one image, it is stunning. The design on this page is very simplistic, and it really helps focus the viewer’s eye on the image, which is of two earrings that together create this structural, almost monumental piece. My initial impression of this page was “How Smart”. The photographer created something amazing out of a pair of earrings. The design of the page was done with the viewer in mind; it grabs the attention of who is looking at it. I think it is very interesting to look at, something I cannot say happens often when looking at catalogues.
It is not hard to “place this image in context”. Since it has an advertisement quality to it, one can assume that the creator of the image is Tiffany & Co. who is the manufacturer for this product and catalogue. They then hired a group of professionals to create what it is we are now seeing. I believe this image was created fairly close to the time this catalogue went to print. The reason for this is so that all the products being shown are up to date and current with their newest products for fall 2012. The photograph itself is accompanied by text, which helps give details as to what is being shown. Details such as, the material being used to make the product, the price and also where to get it. I found this page in the Tiffany’s catalogue to be very visually interesting. It caught my attention, and really gave me a great sense of what the company’s products are all about. I think their use of photography showed the product in a very new and innovative way.
Research Question & Topic:
In 1892, a weekly gazette called Vogue was established. At first, the publication included fashion articles for women and men, advice for attending social gatherings, and illustrative covers that drew in large numbers of readers. Since 1892, the magazine has evolved. From it’s content, to the visual artifacts they chose to represent the “face” of the magazine, the covers. Magazines are aimed at specific target audiences, and their subject matter ranges from cooking and cleaning, to fashion, which has become a dominant area of interest. Today, It seems as though fashion occupies at least one section of almost every magazine. However, the most consistently successful of the specialist fashion magazines over the years has been Vogue. So, how do they continue to surpass their competitors? How do they continue to change effortlessly? This brings us to the main research question.
How have the covers of Vogue magazine evolved visually to impact its target female audience as society and their interest’s change?
This research will help to discover how the magazine has continued to evolve visually over a 120-year span, in order to keep up with both society and their readers. The reason these visuals were chosen for this analysis is based on a few key motives. First, Vogue is one of the most influential fashion magazines in history; it has helped shape the fashion world, and other fashion magazines that we see. Second, is the deeper meaning behind the visuals provided for the covers.
Symbolism & Description:
With that being said, it is important to understand the symbolism behind these images. In Steichen’s 1932 Photographic cover, he shows a healthy, suntanned model holding a beach ball. This image symbolized a new breed of outdoor, active women instead of the decorative and fantasy covers that had come before it. This image was supported by contents about various activities that hadn’t been talked with women. However, this visual and the idea of trying new things influenced women to spend their money on things such as sports and travel and it introduced this sense of athleticism that hadn’t been before. With the photographic covers of Vogue the visual of the female body was exposed more than it had ever been before. In most issues we see a woman doing something to stand out. In 1932 it was being athletic, in 1980 it was cutting all of your hair off to be more androgynous. The message is always very in your face and upfront. This continued in every issue and they seemed to get better and better, always showing just what women needed or wanted to see. These images have influenced women for years on what they do for a living, how they act, what they wear and even what they spend their money on. It seems as though Vogue hasn’t just evolved with society, but that Vogue has helped evolve society itself.
Lloyd, Valerie. (1986) The Art of Vogue, Photographic Covers, Fifty Years of Fashion and Design. Harmony Books.
Magazines have always been a main source of communication in society. They provide not only information but also visuals to the viewer. Thousands of magazines fill the shelves of bookstores, grocery stores, street vendors and much more every day. They feature a variety of different topics, from news to fashion, and really anything you can think of. I would say fashion is the topic that consumes most magazines. There are hundreds of fashion magazines, all competing to get one thing: the reader’s attention.
One magazine that has grown to “surpass its competitors” such as Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour is Vogue. It was created in 1892 as a publication that reported on the New York social events of the elite upper class and European aristocrats, and according to Angeletti and Oliva (2006) the publication was produced for none other than the “rich, the very rich, and the super rich”. In 1909 everything about the magazine changed when Conde Nast bought it. Not only was the content of the magazine different from what we see now, but also the appearance of the magazine. For years Vogue’s covers had detailed illustrations and hand drawn lettering by artists such as A.B Wenzel, Alice Morlan and George Plank. Now, 120 years and 5 editors later we see bright colors, extravagant fonts and photographs all used to help Vogue stand out against its competitors. According to Callan, this change had a lot to do with a man by the name of Mehemet Fehmy Agha. In 1929, Agha moved to New York where the publication was located and began to alter the style of the magazine. He introduced many different aspects such as, new typefaces, new layouts and most importantly it’s look. (Georgina O’Hara Callan) (Rutherford 29)
A change in the way their cover’s look was a big thing for Vogue. They retired the illustrative look and went for bold and edgy photographs of women. These images helped mold what fashion magazines look like today. Vogue started producing images with stylish clothes and exotic locations. Ultimately they began constructing visions of fantasies for the viewers to look at. (Rutherford 31)
The covers of Vogue continued to evolve as society did. The images created for the covers kept up to date with the women who were looking at them. As society changed, so did the editors and each had their own vision for what they intended to do with the magazine. For example, from 1971-1988 Grace Mirabella focused on women’s health and lifestyle and the magazine reflected her vision. Then in 1988 the magazine changed and started featuring more pop culture; including celebrities, art, politics, sports and design. (Rutherford 35)
Vogue was not only a form of entertainment to women but it also educated them. I think the magazine is a great example of how something can evolve as society does. I find the newer issues of Vogue to be a very good representation of women and how they are depicted in society. Most covers feature celebrities or women looking very independent and bold, and I think they capture just was fashion is to women. Not necessarily an article of clothing but something that makes them stand out from others, and even becomes a part of their personality. For instance, in the April 2011 issue the cover featured Rihanna. The text read “World’s Most Beautiful Bodies”, and the photograph showed Rihanna looking very curvy in her skintight dress. The image conveyed a big message to women reading it, that “I am sexy and confidant, and you can be too. A dress may be just a dress to men, but to women it’s something that’s going to get them noticed and going to make them look confident. I think the covers of Vogue have a much deeper meaning than at first glance, and this is a big reason why Vogue is admired by so many.
The Vogue Archive. ProQuest. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.rit.edu/vogue/productfulldescdetail?accountid=108
Agha, Mehemet Fehmy. (2007) The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers.
Rutherford, Brooke. 2009. Understanding feminist backlash through a fashionable framework: A content analysis of Vogue Magazine. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.rit.edu/docview/527840939/abstract?accountid=108
Angeletti, Norberto & Oliva, Alberto. (2006) In Vogue: The illustrated history of the world’s most famous fashion magazine. New York Rizzoli.
About the Author. (2007). The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Fashion and Fashion Designers. http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.rit.edu/entry/thfashion/about_the_author
This week I did two things. First I went on a tour of our school’s artwork, the archivist guided us around campus, as we viewed different pieces of artwork and talked about them. Next I reread the article by Helmer’s and focused on one particular step in his 8 steps of Visual Analysis. The step I focused on was step 4- “Identify Symbolic Elements”. I then had to go back to a specific piece of artwork located on campus and discuss it. I chose the sculpture “Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1” by Henry Moore, because I think it is an amazing piece of artwork. It is so large and in your face, that it’s hard to miss it. I also walk by this piece every single day so I though it would be interesting to learn more about it and think about it symbolically rather than that “big sculpture piece I see everyday”. Overtime symbols have come to represent ideas, which is called iconography. Which if you don’t know is from “eikon, meaning “symbol” and graph, meaning “writing”. However when discussing a piece of artwork, not only is the iconography being discussed, but also a “complex psychological system of meaning”.
When looking at Henry Moore’s sculpture one can think many things. The initial responses may be there are three parts, upper body, middle and lower body. This must mean it is representing a human body. Then digging deeper, you see the curves of the sculpture, this guides us to assume that the body is representing a female body. Next, we notice the colors, bronze and blacks, which are very negative colors, so maybe this figure strikes some negativity in the artist’s mind. All of those assumptions, and that was just based on what we see on the surface, next we have to think about its true meaning, what was going on in the artist’s life that made him sculpt this beautiful piece. It turns out Henry Moore’s mother had been sick when he was a child, and she was bedridden (Archivist Simmons). This means he normally saw her from a reclining position, which makes us think.. is this the figure Moore is depicting with his sculpture? Many images “consciously employ recognizable symbols that add to their meaning”, one example would be a hazard sign on the highway, this symbols is communicating warning to those who see it. In the sculpture by Henry Moore we see those initial symbols that help us first recognize that it is a female figure. I really enjoy this sculpture by Henry Moore, and I am happy to know more about it and what it symbolizes.
According to Helmers step three of critical viewing is to “Describe the Image in Detail”. All images are composed of formal elements that arranged in a particular reason by the artist. When viewing an image, one can see all aspects that make up the composition, or the literal elements of design. There are seven literal elements, including Color, Value, Line, Shape, Form, Texture and Space. There are also the principles of design, which are principles applied to the elements of design that bring them together in one composition or design. If an artist applies these successfully they tend to have a very successful design, and vice versa.
This week I was lucky to have heard the designed Burton Kramer speak at my college. He is a very successful designer, well known for his iconic logos, such as the CBC logo from 1974. His talk was very inspirational and moving. I found his work to be very skilled and there was one specific thing he said that I found to be most interesting, probably because it stuck with me all day after his talk. One student asked if there was any advice he had for young students like us in the design field, his response “Run”. Why would someone with so much success think that? Maybe I am crazy for being in this major, or maybe I just want to prove to him and others that I can make it, and not be overwhelmed by the “Big Design World”. Since retiring from design, Burton has started creating these gorgeous paintings that are currently on exhibition in one of my school’s many gallery spaces. After spending some time in the “University Gallery” I found the posted image to be my favorite. Below I have posted a chart that shows the different design elements and how they were portrayed in Burton’s painting.
Color: This painting uses all three of the color schemes. Primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The colors used help to create a great deal of contrast in this image.
Value: The painting has a lot of value in it. There are dark lines and light lines, which gives a depth to the painting, to give the viewer an idea of what is in the foreground and background.
Line: The use of line is a very important part of this painting, since it is the only shape used in the composition. The artist uses a variety of line weights in order to create this unique and complex image.
Shape: The composition is made up of various lines and colors that together make up various shapes that may not be apparent when viewing this piece up close.
Form: The use of color and lines together in this image, create a great deal of depth. This also relates to the value, and the use of dark and light qualities.
Texture:The texture here is simulated by the use of the brush stroke with the paint. It has that painterly quality which is very appealing.
Space: There is not much use of space in this painting. The lines overlap and are in close proximity to one another. This is done to create this very complex composition.