In the following essay, I shall be discussing the relations of both Alphonse Mucha and Milton Glaser in the context of both social and cultural aspects, as well as the events that surrounded the era in which they worked in.
Art Nouveau, literally meaning ‘New Art’, had many known aliases later on, for example, it was called Jugendstil in Germany, and Stile Liberty in Italy. The movement was characterised by the use of floral patterns, a deep connection with nature and organics, most of which were given a very curved style which gave off a sense of organic fluidity.
During the 19th century, industrialization was occurring all across Europe, which also brought about advancements in technology – Which is where the birth of the poster came through. During this Poster craze, people were astounded by coloured poster prints, which were being heavily invested as a method of experimentation for budding artists. Naturally, being on the verge of war, these posters were then utilized as vessels for propaganda. Which brings us to Alphonse Mucha.
Alphonse Mucha was a leading icon within the Art Nouveau movement. He was an artist based within Paris, who was mostly involved with the poster craze, thus making him an illustrator and designer. Mucha was surrounded by the industrial changes occurring during this period, he was a catalyst to some extent, seeing as his utilization of the poster sparked the previously mentioned poster hype. His fame sparked a massive boom once he created a life sized poster for Sarah Bernhardt in 1894, in which he gained a 6 year contract. One could say that Mucha was the face of the Art Nouveau movement seeing as his works proved to be some of the most notable and best examples of the nouveau era. His posters frequently depicted the female figure, elegantly surrounded by organic forms such as stylized vines, flowers and other forms, which later became a key characteristic of the movement itself. The Gizmonda was a work in particular that contributed to Mucha’s fame.
Moving on, during the late 1950’s, spanning to the 60’s existed a rise in corporate identity. Industrial, transportation and communication methods had evolved and so rose corporations within several industries. The 60’s brought about a multitude of political agendas, for example, the murder of John F.Kennedy in 1963, and the African American rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘’I have a Dream’’ speech that occurred within the same year. As for wars of this time, the 60’s brought about the Cold War, which was deemed more of a political agenda, and the gruelling war in Vietnam, which triggered multiple anti-nuclear protest campaigns that stretched far across the United States of America.
The 60’s also brought about Milton Glaser. Born in 1929, Glaser is highly regarded as the original creator of the ‘I ❤ NY’ logo, which is renowed in every part of the globe, it is truly an ongoing trend which has yet to slow down.
His career path led him to the Push Pin Studios, were his works had contributed to establishing a part of the studio’s style. In a similar manner to Alphonse Mucha, he was commissioned to design a Bob Dylan poster, in which it would later become one of the most recognized posters ever, much how Mucha became a recognized icon of his era through the Gismonda poster.
You could say that history has, in a way, effectively repeated itself in such a way where both these designers took the happenings of their surroundings, and channelled them into pure inspiration, which in turn, led them to creating iconic designs, which, not only created an identity for their time, but paved the way for other designers to take their lead. Both Mucha and Glaser found themselves in a rapidly evolving environment, where society birthed technological improvements and inventions. Mucha was implementing an industrial change. Glaser was experiencing them.
The History Of Posters,2011. Design History. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.designhistory.org/index.html [Accessed 27 January 2014]
The Illustrated Poster. 2014. The Illustrated Poster. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.designhistory.org/Poster_pages/IllPosters.html. [Accessed 28 January 2014].
Cold War — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts. 2014. Cold War — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war. [Accessed 28 January 2014].