Module 5 Reading: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Oct 30

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is a well-known painter from France. I was surprised to see his name in Meggs’ History of Graphic Design as a printer; however, though I never connected him to print work, his Moulin Rouge poster seemed very familiar to me. I looked him up online, and sure enough he did have quite a few posters under his belt. From what it says on toulouse-lautrec-foundation.org, most of his posters were commissioned and appeared to be due his constant presence in bordellos and brothels.

Source: toulouse-lautrec-foundation.org

Source: toulouse-lautrec-foundation.org

The difference between his painting and his print work is noticeable. While his posters certainly reflected the technology and trends of the time, the lack of detail and the use of large blocks of color are in stark contrast from his delicate, careful paintings. I think that when taking both into consideration, it’s easier to see why he played such a large role in the artistic progress of the Art Nouveau era. He was able to create unique viewing experiences no matter the method of creation.

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Module 4 Reading: Lithography and Presses

Oct 23

I found the descriptions of the innovations in printing to be very interesting this module. While we had already read about hand presses, it wasn’t until our reading about the “battle” between traditional letterpresses and chromolithography that I took a deeper interest in how these different methods work.

I know that letterpresses are pretty limited in what they can do, but I still think the results can look great. I found some modern versions of the hand press for pretty cheap on dickblick.com, and a quick search on the Internet yielded some neat modern pieces others have made. Some printers are making dies from digital fonts and then pressing them on paper–it reminds me of William Morris’ reimaginings of Renaissance-era typography. If I decide to get a press, though, I would be more excited about creating with wooden dies.

Source: mcescher.com

Source: mcescher.com

My interest was also piqued when the method of lithography was described. It’s one of those methods that seems like it should have been discovered centuries ago. It’s so intuitive to use oil-based ink to create prints on wet stone, and it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it! M.C. Escher was a lithographer, but I never knew what that meant until now. It makes his works so much more amazing to know how they were made.

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Module 3 Reading: Engraving

Oct 16

As I read this week’s chapters, I was constantly thinking about the level of effort that had to go in to each stage of producing typographical books. Whether it was movable type or die-cutting, these early printers spent countless hours on each line, paragraph, and page.

Source: britannica.com

Source: britannica.com

With time in mind, one designer who stood out to me was John Pine. I wish our book had explored his works a little more in-depth. While all printing had to be time consuming in its early years, Pine must have spent an extraordinary amount of time on each of his projects. He used a copper plate to engrave all of his pages, rather than using wood blocks for text. The result is noticeable: his layouts are incredibly crisp, with intricate detail not seen in designs from his contemporaries. One example I found online is  A View of the House of Peers, the King Sitting on His Throne, the Commons Attending Him; that layout alone makes me wonder if he suffered from OCD.

His works, along with Fournier le Jeune and George Bikham the Elder, also helped bridge the gap in my mind from engraving to typesetting. While typesetting is definitely an art form of its own, I can now see how the engravers of history made way for the die cutters and punch cutters of typography. They are not separate art forms at all!

Source:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Pine

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