“Propaganda Prints: A History of Art in the Service of Social and Political Change” by Colin Moore
In the book Propaganda Prints: A History of Art in the Service of Social and Political Change, Colin Moore investigates the impact and role that propaganda had in the manipulation and influence of the political and social views on various issues throughout history. Moore covers the ancient world, the Middle Ages and early modern periods before the machine age. Information is provided about the political changes due to propaganda as well as society’s view on it and the changing opinions over time. The developments in design and also the techniques that were used in propaganda across history are delved into as well. Moore explores the different events in history briefly, including the wars and revolutions up until recent digital art propaganda such as the Obama Hope poster. Compared to other books regarding the impact of propaganda, he effectively covers many different areas in history and includes what is happening around the world instead of focusing on the western art, which is what most propaganda art history focuses on. He briefly discusses each topic but he skips over many years and important events as well. Moore could have expanded on the depth of information regarding each event and taken out the current affairs as it would have allowed for inclusion of the years which he skipped from the Vietnam War up until the Digital Age.
Moore goes on in his introduction about the association with the regimes of Stalin and the Nazi’s and how it confirmed that propaganda was solidified as a word with a negative connotation and the messages portrayed would be unreliable. He states that it is ‘half-truth with hidden persuasion and distortion, producing unaccountable and untrustworthy messages’. The progression of propaganda becoming unreliable is depicted by Moore as portraits of Hitler and various forms of Nazi propaganda in poster style, the way he chose his selection of images is important because he did not pick the ones which are not so commonly found in textbooks. He went out of his way to find less known pictures that are different to the norm. This shows that Moore has a clear definition of propaganda in his mind and it sways the analysis throughout his work surrounding Nazi Germany and World War II.
A key period in history where propaganda was utilized is during World War I. Moore specifically writes about the propaganda at the time that was in Europe and America and was used propaganda as a medium to encourage the country and to bring the public into action. He believes this was achieved by stereotyping the enemy to portray a negative display of them within the minds of the public and this made all propaganda more successful as there would already be stereotyped views of the enemy in their minds. An example of this is ‘Beat Back the Hun’ by Frederick Strothmann, created in 1918 which portrays a German soldier as a blood thirsty creature shown in a dark silhouette, coming to take away the freedoms of Americans. The poster’s title makes it the responsibility of the viewer to eradicate the Hun, encouraging the public to enlist. Moore states that Britain was unprepared for the war and because of that, their main priority was to create propaganda for encouraging enlisting of the public. Propagandists who produced work surrounding World War I are portrayed by Moore as exploiters of public fear and love. They are shown to be in control of the public, using their designs to generate the desired responses. In Britain, instead of playing around with fear and love, propaganda utilized powerful figures to encourage the public to do things. For example, Lord Kitchener was used as the figure in ‘The London Opinion’ saying “Your country needs you”, as he points outwards toward the reader, imposing the responsibility to them. The powerful face of Lord Kitchener along with his plea for help draws an emotional response from the public and emphasizes the sense of urgency related to the country’s need for troops.
Moore briefly describes and shows a few works of each era and it is effective that he covered such a vast majority of information in such a short span. He added some pictures which are well known but also a lot which are more uncommon and he did not pick the stereotypical ones which we would expect. The downfall however, he tries to fit so much information into the book, whilst being important, he could have spent more time on each topic, he skims the surface of various parts of history. The book has a vast range but lacks depth, which prevents detailed learning. The current digital era is out of place in regards to ancient civilizations and after the Vietnam war and Moore could have added something more meaningful after Vietnam such as America’s anti-Soviet propaganda in the 1980s which brought back themes from the Cold War. As technology improves, the propaganda forms also changed and were more in the forms of films and media as opposed to iconic posters. Although, there are still forms of poster propaganda in the current day such as the Obama ‘Hope’ design by Shepherd Fairey which Moore briefly covers towards the end.
Colin Moore’s book Propaganda Prints: A History of Art in the Service of Social and Political Change encompasses a wide range of events throughout history and shines a light upon the propaganda surrounding each event and the purpose of them in shifting the opinions of people to cause change or empower. Moore touches upon a couple key events such as the two World Wars and he conveys his analysis of the propaganda and the effect it had on people at the time. There is, however, a sudden jump from the Vietnam War to the modern day and leaves a gap in history where there were many important propaganda pieces created. The effect of propaganda and design is explored by Moore to an effective degree and portrays how useful they were in causing societal and political change.
Art is a revolutionary tool in teaching and impacting society and especially the design industry. Lessons and ideas can be learned from artistic periods throughout history, specific movements and also influential figures. An important ideal which has been developed and improved over the past century is corporate identity. This was created by the industrial designer Peter Behrens. Corporate identity is displayed almost everywhere in society today and has become a core principle in business.
Peter Behrens is an important figure in the history of corporate identity because he is regarded as the first person to have designed and designated importance upon the elements of corporate identity. Working as a consultant for AEG, Behrens eventually designed their entire corporate identity. Corporate identity is the way in which a business, corporation or firm displays themselves to society and the impact in which this has towards branding and facilitating their business goals. The identity of a company can range from their logo design, to color palettes and typefaces. The goal for companies is to have a corporate identity which is recognizable to society and when the specific service or product they offer is thought of, their corporate identity is the first thing that comes to mind. An example of this is the sporting brand Nike, the swoosh is internationally recognized and is known for the quality and innovative nature of their athletic products. The widespread recognition is a key factor in selling goods and services and the overall success of a company.
The movement that Behrens started within the industrial design field has shaped modern businesses and the importance that they place on their identity. These companies are more aware of the minds of their consumers and the impact of which good branding can have on their financial success. If Behrens had not created the industrial design industry and made companies aware of the importance of their identity on their financial success, advertising and branding as we know it may be different and much less developed in the modern day.
In the current day, designers face challenges in regards to creating effective and simple designs which can capture the attention of consumers and create a connection between the brand and the specific product or service which they are providing. Along with the idea of corporate identity, Plakatstil or poster style was an example of simple images with a solid background and one word to get the point through to the consumers or viewers to draw upon feelings or some sort of connection. This ultimately leads to brands becoming household names, for example, a tissue can be interchanged with a Kleenex and chips can be interchanged with Doritos.
In closing, Peter Behrens influence on corporate identity and industrial design has shaped modern advertising and branding. Companies are aware of the importance of their designs in drawing in consumers so extra finances are allocated to those areas. This is a result of learning from the past and the progression of the ideal which Behrens originally created. Overall, this example shows how crucial it is for us to focus on the history of art and design because of the valuable lessons embedded in each event, movement, period or individual.
This is the logo for the largest coffee franchise in the world, Starbucks. This logo is the fourth version and was a resulted of rebranding. The design was simplified and color reduced. This logo is iconic and has been customized by people for their own interests. They change the mermaid figure in the middle to something else whilst maintaining the identity of Starbucks because of the circular green and white design.
The logo contains a vertical plane of symmetry and is balanced throughout. It also is made up of geometrical shapes, such as the mermaid’s crown. The use of lines is used to portray movement and pattern in the piece, curvy lines in the mermaid’s hair display a feeling of flow, analogous to the brewing of coffee. The green and white are flat but lines help create the feeling of movement, giving it a three-dimensional effect. The smile on the mermaid figure’s face shows that the brand brings joy to consumers and is also a welcoming face when entering the store. It is interesting to look into the mythology behind mermaids because they symbolize beauty, rarity and persuasion. As a branding figure, this is used to draw attention from consumers towards a coffee store which is unlike the others and excels at what it does.
The purpose of this logo is for branding and advertising the Starbucks brand, making it a recognizable coffee store. In class, we discussed how Peter Behrens was the father of corporate identity and branding. This was important to the industry and getting product out as when you look at a logo and can automatically connect it to a product is a result of a successful brand. The logo depicts a smiling welcoming face which is representative of their store and is inviting people to purchase coffee from them. The evolution and progression of this logo has led to a simple design which does not have any text attached. This is representative of the amount of power that the logo has in its distinctiveness and its ability to be recognized by consumers on an international basis.
Ludwig Hohlwein was a German born artist who lived between the years 1874 and 1949. Originally, Hohlwein practiced as an architect up until 1906, when he decided to primarily focus on poster design, which he is known for. It is important to know that Hohlwein’s most known art was just prior to World War 2. His poster style is recognized by his use of color, shading, contrast and simplicity. His identity as a graphic designer was established around 1911 through his poster for Hermann Scherrer, a men’s clothing brand. The piece was called Breechesmaker, Sporting Taylor. The poster was done in Sachplakat style and was simplified like the Beggerstaff brothers’ work. However, Hohlwein had a unique style unlike those around him. His style can be described as a hybrid of the simplicity of Sachplakat with an aristocratic vibe and elegance. The tamed dog and equestrian equipment suggest a lifestyle which is of the upper class and luxury. Hohlwein’s poster designs had vivid colors with patterning that was abstract. This separated Hohlwein from other artists who utilized Sachplakat style in their art. For example, the black and white checkered patterning on the man’s bottom half creates a two-dimensional look that contrasts with its surroundings which have a more three-dimensional and realistic element to them.
Another piece that Hohlwein created was a poster for the Marco Polo Tee Company, which displays the product in an exotic and complimenting manner, similar to that of Art Nouveau posters. The piece puts the viewer in the perspective of a wealthy person who is being brought the product by their servant. The servant in this piece is depicted as an African man. As customs have changed and progressed, it is difficult for viewers today to see this poster outside the context of Africa being taken over by Europeans, which at the time, was very relevant as it was made amidst the uprising of Germany’s empire.
Ludwig Hohlwein was a man who became known for his unique use of depth, patterns and color in his designing of posters which at the time was unique and helped him become successful in the realm of clothing and retail. However, as the environment around him changed, so did his art. A key aspect in Hohlwein’s legacy is the uprising of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany as he made posters for them. His style became more masculine and intense, portraying Aryan idealism. Despite Hohlwein’s talent for design and his unique skills, his legacy was tarnished because of his relationship with the Nazi party.
Eskilson, Stephen. Graphic Design: A New History. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.
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Art Nouveau was a decorative style of art with floral patterns, natural themes, and calligraphic line drawing. Art Nouveau started at the end of the 19th century. It is often called the total art style because it included all of the arts. The idea was to break away from the art school and traditional styles from the past. The beginning of Art Nouveau pulls elements and styles from Victorian art, Rococo, Arts and Crafts movement, Fine Arts, and Japanese Woodblock prints. Artists who practiced Art Nouveau had the belief of expanding their abilities beyond what they were taught in schools. They aimed to push it forward and modernize design and art as a whole. An artist from the Art Nouveau time period that made me want to be a designer was Alphonse Maria Mucha. He was a Czech born artist who produced designs and art pieces that were originally called the “Mucha style”, but became known as Art Nouveau. Mucha was known for his frequent depictions of women in a Neoclassical style surrounded in beautiful floral designs and decorative lines. When I first started looking into the graphic design program and started taking my first graphic design class, I had a paper I had to do on an artist. We were given a list of hundreds of artists I had never heard of before. I picked random artists and tried to select a style of art that was similar to the kind of art I enjoyed making. I found Alphonse Mucha’s work and the style blew me away. I loved the vibrant colors he used and the floral designs he always used to decorate the frame around women. I loved the consistency of his art style and how he designed everything from posters to bank notes. I studied him further after the paper was over and discovered Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau is still a very popular style used today. You can commonly find Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau inspired art mixed with current pop culture.