Saturday, 5 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Within the music industry, David Stone Martin’s album artwork showcase a modern yet impressionist style that perfectly echo the jazz albums of Clef, Norgran, and Verve record labels. They are some of the most fluid identity illustrations and have influenced the world of album graphics it preceded, notably and most famously the sleeves of the young Andy Warhol. Martin created over 400 classic album covers, depicting legends such as Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Art Baker and Oscar Peterson. His use of line and contour is balanced perfectly with colour and typography, and seem sometimes screen printed or collaged. The beauty of these identity illustrations, though also persuasive given their commercial context, is that the marriage of identity and profession, the musical style and the historical context.
Though images such as the stained glass helped the propagation of Christianity, Illustration as persuasion often relies on the power of a single image, as seen in successful political posters, book covers and movie posters. Olly Moss’ series ‘Films in Black and Red’ straddles the blurry distinction between Illustration and Design as separate disciplines. As he considers himself both a designer and an illustrator, each practice inevitably influences the other. Is seems his poster for Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Great Dictator’ is a graphic design approach with an illustrative hand, whereas the poster for ‘Taxi Driver’ is the opposite. The beauty of re-designed posters is that, with time, you can adapt your posters to a niche audience. The Chaplin poster is particularly persuasive because it sells that copy of the film to the audience that understands Charlie Chaplin’s foreshadowing performance as a crazed dictator, understand its brilliance. Allot of Moss’ work relies on the duplicating and juxtaposing images, colours and text to illustrate humour or absurdity. The black, red and white all work in selling the film as a part of a set, which also includes Die Hard, Indiana Jones, The Deer Hunter, Rain Man and American History X.
Narrative Illustration can shown through more complex examples, however. In modern times, where 82% of the world’s population can be considered literate#, the term Poor Man’s Bible has come in use to describe works of art within churches and cathedrals created to illustrate passages of the bible to a largely illiterate population. Though this can include anything from stone sculptures to illuminated manuscripts or panel paintings, prominent amongst all of them is the art of stained glass windows. A major art form in the cathedrals and churches of France, Spain, England and Germany, one particularly noteworthy and complex narrative device is the presence of juxtaposing bible references, where Old Testament incidents are seen to foreshadow events in the new testament. In the east window of St Mary's (Chilham, UK) we see five such pairings, with the five stages of the death and resurrection of Jesus set above smaller biblical foils from the old testament. Jesus’ crucifixion on the third panel, for example, is mirrored by the Israelites sacrificing lambs and painting their doors with its blood as a sign to the Lord’s angel. Next, his resurrection in the next panel is linked to Jonah being spat out by a large fish which had eaten him three days previously.
Satirical cartoons such as Kal’s, whilst informative, also provide a commentary of socio-political situations. Some of the most interesting commentaries, however, are made through cartoons which manage to depict seemingly innocuous aspects of people’s lives and the nature of relationships. The New Yorker cartoonist Sam Gross has created some of the most recognizable and touching dialogues and commentaries of day to day life. Image two speaks simply and clearly about the nature and absurdity of love, whilst creating a delicate visual pun. These cartoons also serve as documents of an audience’s sense of humour. Usually short, smart and hysterical, the small narratives are bite-sized comic comedies remind us of aspects of our own lives.
Illustration for the purpose of pure information can range from medical diagrams to safety instructions on planes, can be highly detailed and scaled or as simple and straightforward as possible. The latter, however, often creeps into the blurred territory of semiotics and design, and the former is on obvious example. Alternatively, one can think back to history textbooks and recall cartoon sources that illustrated conflicts and foreign relationships clearly and succinctly, whilst retaining style and precision. Publications such as the Washington Post and Punch magazine were rich in satire and subjectivity, but their cartoons, when striped of the publication’s context, provide just as much information as commentary. Kevin Kallaugher, known as KAL at The Economist#, is one of the most prominent contemporary political satirists. His work has had some of the most poignant depictions of current events and has become in itself a form of journalism. Image one, ‘An Abridged history of the US-China Relationship’, published November 14th 2009, speaks entirely for itself.
The seat I have chosen, in short, is the memorial to Carlos Drummond de Andrade, placed at the end of Copacabana. It was inaugurated in 2001, on the centenial of his birth. Sculpted by Leo Santana and based on a photograph taken by Rogerio Reis in the 1980's.