Sunday, November 1, 2009

Art, Design and Industry (Art Deco): The beginning

The beginning of the Art Deco period was motivated by the admiration for the beauty of new geometric forms and technology possibilities. technology was beginning to accelerate to great extents in which large quantities could be produced in less time. The pace in which goods were produced stimulated the quality of life for the wealthy and the middle class because they could afford these new luxuries. Because of the boost in technology and new advancements, this period is also known as the "machine age."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was significant because it stimulated public interest in newer designs by the artwork that was displayed. Museums promoted modern styles emphasizing the integration of art into the lives of the middle class and for the ability of the decorative arts to raise the level of public tastes (Raizman, 206). Vogue and Vanity Fair were popular magazines that used illustrations to cultivate the image of modern life associated with fashion, sport, travel, etc. This method is still very successful today. Geometric shapes were very popular such like the designs of Raymond Hood and Ruth Reeves. These designs were very similar to Frank L. Wrights horizontal and geometric features in his architecture. Hood created furniture and interiors that emphasizes industrial materials and angular geometric decoration (Raizman, 208). Reeves's "electric design" uses zigzag overlapping shapes to convey the speed and man-made power of electric energy (Raizman, 208). Another very geometric design was the Skyscraper bookcase designed by Paul Frankl. We fimiliar with Skyscraper as being a tall building but it can also be used to refer to furniture of the Art Deco era, it has a strong sense of verticality with rectangular shelving sections.
Like most design periods, interiors during the 20th century were based off of past centuries. The wealthy homes inhabited large, heavy brick or stone with comfortable frame houses while the interiors echoed ideas from the Aesthetic Movement with wide rooms, soft hangings and old mahogany (Meikle, 89). Most families of good wealth had a bungalow and living areas were scattered with decorative flower motifs and elaborate designs on fabric resembling the Victorian era (Meikle, 89). The poor lived in rickety little houses with old pieces of furniture, solid heavy quilts and very few furniture if any (Meikle, 89). Luckily, the machine age required art to be simplified so that people from any class could enjoy the products and it would be cheap enough for the most people to afford it.
Henry Ford is an important figure in this period who is widely known for his productions of the automobile, specifically the Mobile T which is a type of car he invented. The automobile transformed the way people live, work, and how to identify themselves whether they have a car because they need it or to show off their economical status.

What are museums used for today? Do you think an art museum today still stimulates new ideas and designs for the future? Money is always a huge influence on where you live and what items you can afford to have, how does money affect us today and influence the way we live? does everyone have equal opportunities to own goods or do you think there is a large gap between wealthy and poor?


Elizabeth Harr said...

The overall image of museums today is very different from how they were represented in the past. Today when you here the word museum your mind quickly thinks of the past. Most museums today are a place to display our history and our past accomplishments. As for an art museum, it follows the same sort of idea. Art museums showcase the works of famous artists that are long gone. They primary pieces are very old with an occasional new one. Another reason for this is that most pieces of art do not get popular or famous for a long span of time after they are created.

I believe that art museums today are not the same as they use to be. They do not stimulate new designs and ideas for the future. Our world today relishes our past and loves to look back at it and display it to promote our pride. We do not display ideas for the future because they might not even be right or correct and no one wants to be wrong.
Money is a huge deal in todays world. It is the bases of everything; where we live, where we go to school, what we eat, what we buy, etc. Money is behind everything it has consumed our world. Money is so influential and people are always worrying about money.

I would say that there is a gap between the wealthy and poor but it has been hidden. Consumer goods are available to everyone. Walmart is a great example of a company and store that has created and designed many items that represent higher priced items but are sold for a very little amount of money. There are always "off" brands that are always much cheaper than the "real" item. This is how the gap is hidden in my opinion. The "fake" items are bought by the lower class and the "real" items are bought by the wealthy class. Because it is hard to distinguish what is real and what is fake the gap is hidden.

Betty said...

The mission of the museum, to me, has not changed over time. Its main roles are to display, protect, and preserve items of visual interest or significance and to educate the public on these items. I agree that it is unusual today to see an exhibit of current works in a major museum. When I have been in the major museums the exhibits have been retrospectives. However, it is common to find exhibits by current artists in museums; it just is more often in the smaller museums. I think of 21C in Louisville, for example. A number of the artists in the collection are still living and working.

The question is a good one: do museums stimulate new ideas and designs for the future. I will agree with Elizabeth that that is not a role museums currently fill. Information can now be distributed cheaply and immediately via the internet. These are two things a museum cannot do. It is no longer fitting, then, for the role of spreading new information and ideas to fall on the museum. It is important to have access to the "real thing", though, and this is where galleries and trade shows come in.

Likewise, it is also important for people to have access to art and other significant objects first-hand. No matter how many times you have seen Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte in pictures or have read about dinosaurs, it is so much more impressive to see that giant canvas with its millions of tiny dots of paint or to see that 70 foot-long skeleton in person. This is the lasting role of the museum, then, to provide public access to significant items.

Money is certainly a driving force in how we live. There is a debate to have about which is more influential: our income levels or our set of values. There is unquestionably a huge gap between rich and poor. In the US something like 12% of the population is living in poverty. Worldwide, something like 80% of the population lives in poverty as defined for US standards. The consumer class is still an elite minority worldwide, as much as we hear of the globalization of Coca-Cola and McDonald's. There are a huge number of people in the US, some 36 million, who not only can't fathom shopping in Tiffany's, but for whom Target is a stretch.

Clay Moran said...

Most often, today, museums are used for displays of the past. I think there are some which house new pieces, and therefore aid in the progression of style to whatever is the new modernism. Overall however, the larger and more prominent ones feature massive displays of Ancient Egypt, Medieval chandeliers, and famous paintings like the Mona Lisa. Needless to say, then, it is more common to see works of the past in today’s museums. Those museums probably don’t stimulate many new ideas, but do help us learn from the past and therefore become more aware of the possibilities for the future.
I agree that money is of great influence on where you live and what kind of “stuff” you own and accumulate. In this time of economic turmoil, money has a huge effect on our actions and lifestyles. Most middle class citizens are feeling the pressure from the feeble economy, and choosing more economical options every day. Family vacation in Hawaii has become a camping trip at a nearby park. Large SUV drivers have turned in their keys for more compact cars that get better gas mileage. Financially smart people choose homes or apartments and areas, which are within their budget, allowing their monetary status to influence where they live. To compensate for the economical dip, many companies, services, manufacturers, and retail stores are lowering their prices to keep the supply demand ratio fairly stable. Overall, personal money situations along with the condition of the economy are clearly related to the way we live and the choices we make when spending our money.
I certainly do not thing that everyone has and equal opportunity to own goods. Although the great divide between the very rich and very poor has diminished greatly throughout the year, it’s nowhere near minimal. Though the middle class group is expanding in size and range, the richest keep getting richer and the poorest seem to get poorer. Mass production of machine made products does make them affordable to a larger range of income levels. However, the most advanced technology will always be expensive, and often with advanced materials comes a higher price too. If a very low-income group waits long enough, prices of new technology will fall. But staying atop the latest and greatest in gadgets and home buys is not an invitation extended to everyone. And further, as there are still incredibly wealthy people around, whether by work or family money, there will continue to be items priced at a point only attainable for these elite few.

Casey_Ekers said...

I think art museums today still inspire people. It really depends on what kind of museum you go to. Like Betty said the large museums concentrate more on already famous pieces. Smaller museums might exhibit newer material. But for the most part new furniture designs aren't showcased just so the public can be exposed to them. Thats what magazines and TV is for nowadays. Museums are allowing people to experience history first hand, while galleries are taking on the role the museums used to play. Galleries have smaller shows of modern art to expose the public to the new movements.

Money is most defiantly a driving force, and it has a huge effect on how we live. You don't see homeless people enjoying the same lifestyle as Donald Trump do you? Some people living in America can't afford food off McDonalds dollar menu while in other countries to even have what our homeless have would be nice. Yes there is a huge gap between rich and poor & it's disgusting.

Mark Leavens said...

Museums today are very different from what they were; as we discussed in class, the idea was to display new and exciting art and ideas but now it is only a small portion, if any, that displays modern art. The conception of the museum has changed.However, the fact still remains that one can go into the museum and be inspired by past works and create new ideas from them.

Money always has and always will play a huge part in society. Our economy right now is showing the signs of how money works. The dollar of times past was once worth more sure, but the use and need for money will not change. It is used for everything, to show social status by buying rich and expensive clothes, to buying the one meal you'll get a week.

The gap between the wealthy and exceedingly wealthy and the poor will always be there. The strive and ambition to do better is bound inside of each of us and some are more ambitious more than others and cross the gap from poor to wealthy. But not all are that lucky, the equal opportunity ideals are great but are not always applied. Ideals are great but worth nothing if they aren't applied properly

Jenna Martini said...

Museums today, although some do take on elements and principles of designs of the past, many do take on inspirations for the future. The Union Terminal in Cincinnati, which we spoke of in a previous class, it's interior is amazing. It uses art work from the past, but all pieces are painted in a futuristic manor. The exterior is bold and expansive, while the interior is colorful and alive. The tall ceilings of this museum as well as within many others create many opportunities to expand on the possibilities of design through the building up of interiors. Art museums today are also taking on modern and contemporary designs to look forward to other designs to use these elements and principles as well. I know I have mentioned Cincinnati already, but the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as the cincinnati art galleries take on new forms and design. I believe museums to be of coming to a new era of taking many chances on design ideas.

As for what museums are used for today, mostly they are used for learning exhibits. They centralize on various ideas. The Union Terminal in Cincinnati, just this past summer, I went to a "Dead Bodies Exhibit", a "Dinosaur Exhibit", and a "Butterfly Exhibit". Museums today are taking on a number of possibilities. They are using design to incorporate many types of learning exhibits and environments successfully. Museums are an area of design which I believe would be a great central focus for any designer because of the limitless possibilities.

I know money is the central issue of all design, but I also believe if the money is toward an urban project for something so education (as in a museum or an art gallery), then should money really be an issue? And also, within museums, some exhibits and some over-the-top designs are expensive, but there are also exhibits that are free and museums dealing with green design to save the environment. Money will always be an issue, but in reference to museum, I do not believe it to be an issue in a Museum's entirety.

Abby said...

My experiences with museums have led me to believe that they are still an important aspect in the spreading of ideas in the art and design world. They draw in the people who are interested in such visual subjects and provide a window to a world of creativity on a level that one does not get to experience everyday. When you go into a museum, you see things that you have never seen before in your lifetime, images that you will never see again. The experience is flooring and it opens your eyes. Seeing such talent is inspiring to many, while others don’t understand it. I will agree with Betty about the internet: it downgrades museums as a primary means of communicating and displaying ideas, because the internet is the fastest mode for the job. Also I agree that nothing beats seeing and experiencing the real thing. Images on a screen do not do MOST art pieces any justice whatsoever. In a museum in Denver, CO I was able to walk through several large white spaces with videos projected onto all of the surfaces. The experience was surreal and could never be duplicated via internet or magazine.

I think art museums today are definitely still used to stimulate new ideas and designs for the future. I scour through several art and design blogs everyday, and at least once a week I read about, and see pictures of, a current art exhibit taking place in a large city’s art museum—usually Chicago, New York, or Denver. Large cities with large museums are often considered design hubs, and I believe the museum exhibitions are partly responsible for their design success. New artists continue to construct extensive exhibits that thousands of people flock to see. And I think designers are influenced by them, and so are their designs. Museums provide a unique place for art/design-oriented people like us. They provide a special space for a “meeting of the minds,” without which the process of spreading ideas and displaying one’s creativity would be rather difficult. If museums only held famous paintings from the past, there wouldn’t be a niche for displaying new art pieces and new ideas; creativity would suffer because there would be no place designed especially for it; no place to exhibit new and exciting ideas and art forms. Innovations are being made everyday in art because of the development of technology and machinery used by new and upcoming artists. One day, these new and exciting pieces will be considered history and will collect dust in a museum; but that museum will continue to exhibit new art because art and creativity is ever-advancing through developments in process.

I believe that there will always be a large gap between the wealthy and poor, because that is essentially how an economy naturally works. It is unfortunate, but I think equality in the form of money is one of the most difficult things to achieve. However, designers and select corporations are forever working toward marketing to the lower class and making useful and nice products more available to those with less money. Examples of this can be seen at Walmart and especially Target. Target has been mentioned several times in our classes because one of the company’s main objective is to make “modern” and “good design” available to all. This was not always so, and therefore it is a large step forward in the evolution of our social structure. I am glad that companies are making an effort to provide quality products and beautiful products to those who can’t afford to spend a lot of money. The gap still exists between those who are wealthy and those who are poor, but the gap is much smaller in America than other countries abroad. The quality of life of the wealthy and poor will never match up, but at least the lower class have more access to products and goods that are similar to those purchased by those enjoying the upper class lifestyle.

meagan_mckee said...

Museums today are not really show cases for the future, but places of preservation of the past. We have art from all eras and periods of history and although I'm sure there do exist 'museums' for future developments, those are not the typically thought of 'museums' of today.

I do think however, that museums still have the capability of stimulating ideas and design even though they display 'old' paintings or inventions. Take example the first light bulb (which I'm sure is on display somewhere in the world...). The concept of lighting will never be a new one but from that single experiment that created the light bulb, we are still furthering the capabilities of lighting today - first with fluorescent and now with LEDs. No, we may not use the math that first developed into the incandescent light bulb, but we take the idea, the concept, and make it modern.

I feel that art, and museums in general, filled with things of the past, will always inspire design and the development of everything that is to come - technology, art, architecture - the feats are impossible to count.

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.