POP ART


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US Style and design (20th century) 
Pop Art,  Commercial Photography

    The twentieth century is the first  century  of  self-conscious,  total
design at every level of our living  and environment.  Care  and  vision  in
application of design have come to be demanded in  every  aspect  of  modern
life  from our kitchens and bathrooms,  to  our  factories  and  workshops,
from  our  clothes  and  domestic  objects,  to  the  packaging  of   pocket
calculators or the structuring of plastic dining chairs.
    Although the word has been used since at least the  fifteenth  century,
when Italian writers spoke of 'disegno' in describing the  quality  of  line
possessed by an  image  or  artifact,  in  all  essentials  'design'  is  an
industrial or  post-industrial  concept.  With  the  introduction  of  mass-
production, the people who invented ideas for objects became separated  from
the people who made them who, again, were  separated  from  the  people  who
sold them. The  industrial  revolution  also  created  the  concept  of  the
market. Personal need, or the whims of a patron, were  replaced  by  a  more
abstract demand: the tastes of a large, amorphous body of consumers.
    The modern designer came into being as an intermediary between industry
and the consumer. His role was to adapt the  products  of  industry  to  the
mass market, to make them more useful and  durable,  perhaps,  but  to  make
them more  appealing  and  commercially  successful,  certainly.  Commercial
success is the touchstone of achievement in design,  although  designers  in
different  cultures  have  often  taken  different  views  as  to  how   the
achievement is measured or the success validated.
    So, design in business and advertisement means much. The story of style
in the applied arts since the mid-to late fifties  has  been  dominated  by
various new forces, including  social  and  economic  factors  and  certain
aspects of technical and scientific progress. Now we have computer  design,
web design, advertisement design ( for  example  consumer-product  branding
design) and the whole fashion of different types of ad, colors and so on.
    The late fifties saw the birth of advertising  as we know it  today,  a
high-powered business  dedicated  to  the  development  effective  marketing
techniques; it involved new design concepts and  a  whole  new  professional
jargon of product packaging, market research,  corporate  images  and  house
style.
    The POP Art movement embraced the work of a new generation  of  artists
of late fifties and  early  sixties  of  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic.  In
Britain, in addition to the  Independent  Group,  there  were  Peter  Blake,
Allen Jones. In USA Jasper Johns, Tom Wesselman, Claes Oldenburg  and  other
formalized the language of product packaging, from beer cans  to  Campbell's
Soup tins of strip cartoons, fast food, advertising hoardings and pin-ups.
    Pop Art  at  once  reflected  and  glorified  mass-market  culture  and
injected a new vigour into the applied arts. Pop and the  art  styles  which
were its natural successors, notably American Hard-Edge Abstraction and  the
Hyper- or Photo-realist school of around 1970, suggested  a  new  palette  o
colours and gave a fresh, ironical edge to the imagery of  popular  culture.
The  Pop  ethic  posi  lively  encouraged  designers  to  exploit  vulgarity
brashness and bright colour, and to use synthetic  or  disposable  materials
in contexts in which they would formerly have  been  unacceptable.  Pop  has
had a lasting effect on  design  in  a  wide  variety  of  media,  including
interiors, graphics and fashion.
    Pop has spawned furniture in bright, primary-coloured plastics  and  in
boldly printed fold-away cardboard; it has inspired, notably in Britain  and
Italy, witty sculptural furniture in brash, synthetic materials  reminiscent
of the sculptures of Claes Oldenburg. The  fashion  and  furniture  shop  Mr
Freedom, opened in London in 1969 by Tommy Roberts, was a  veritable  shrine
to the Pop cult, with lively furniture designs by Jon Weallans. Italian  Pop
furniture was one aspect of  the  Italian  design  community's  wide-ranging
intellectual approach which, since the sixties,  has  made  Italy  the  most
progressive country in many areas of the applied arts.
    The influence of Pop can be seen in graphic design in  the  sixties  in
the work of the American Pushpin  Studios,  founded  by  Milton  Glaser  and
Seymour Chwast. Pop and the Hyper-Realists also inspired the slick  airbrush
work of a number of graphic artists working in the seventies  and  eighties,
notably the British artists Philip Castle and Michael English.  Pop  imagery
is still, today, a part of the staple diet of graphic design.
    Pop's most notable impact on the world of fashion was in London in  the
late sixties and early seventies, and in Italy in the achievements  of  Elio
Fiorucciin the seventies. Fiorucci brought fun into fashion, and his  shops,
first in Milan  and  then  internationally,  became  known  for  their  Pop-
inspired clothes and graphics.

    And it's influence can be seen also and on a graphic design in USA. POP
is everywhere, we see  everyday  objects  and  images  of  American  popular
culture   Coca-Cola  bottles,  soup  cans,  sigarette  packages  and  comic
strips.
    Commercial photography
    Commercial photographic images are a major  ingredient  of  our  visual
life, assimilated from magazines, hoardings and such contexts as brochures,
catalogues, calendars, packaging and  point-of-sale  promotional  material.
Commercial photography thrives as  a  means  of  creating  highly  polished
images of a stylized, glamourized and idealized view of the World in  order
to sell a product or a service.
    The major categories of commercial photography are advertising  in  its
countless guises,  including  product  photography  and  photo-illustration,
fashion, beauty and certain categories  of  photography  which  are  neither
reportage nor aspire to be fine art, yet which  can  be  fascinating  social
documents of considerable aesthetic quality.
    Irving Penn has continued to be a master in each of  these  genres  and
has set standards to which many aspire. His career has spanned forty  years,
during which his work, from his early fashion  and  still-life  compositions
to current still-life product studies such as his series for  the  cosmetics
manufacturers Clinique,  has  shown  an  inimitable  vision  and  consistent
aesthetic rigour.
    Ben Stern, though far from being  Penn's  artistic  equal,  became  the
archetypal commercial photographer in the fifties  and  sixties,  running  a
vast studio in New York and showing considerable skill  and  versatility  in
interpreting the briefs of art directors and clients.
    In the sixties the profession of commercial and, in particular, fashion
photography became greatly glamourized: the  successful  young  photographer
became a popular folk hero,  as  if  the  camera  were  a  passport  to  the
illusory world which it could  depictAntonioni's   film   Blow-Up  (1966-7)
defined the role model. Among the most interesting magazines to be  launched
in the sixties, the photography of which captured  the  youthful  excitement
of that period, were the British Nova, which commissioned some of  the  best
fashion photography of  its  day,  and  the  German  Twen,  brilliantly  art
directed by Willy Fleckhaus.
    In the  sixties  advertising  played  a  secondary  role  to  editorial
photography in magazines. Today the reverse seems true,  for  the  character
of many magazines is dictated by the market needs of  advertisers  and  many
photographers bemoan the greater restrictions this  imposes.  The  seventies
and eighties have, nonetheless, brought forth a  new  roll-call  of  talent.
Outstanding contemporary figures include Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin,  who
have dominated  the  field  of  fashion  photography;  Hans  Feurer,  Arthur
Elgort, Denis Piel and others, a few of the less   celebrated  but  talented
fashion  photographers;  advertising  and  glamour  photographers  such   as
Francis Giacobetti, James Baes
    Commercial photographers play a great role  in  our  consumer  society,
creating the images of a life-style to which we  are  constantly  encouraged
to aspire. They create glamourized images of women  and  give  a  heightened
visual appeal to the products which are economic mainstay  of  our  society,
be it a hamburger, a perfume or an automobile.





"POP ART"