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Re: definitions of graphic design


>   Michael mentioned Toulouse-Lautrec and Stuart Davis. This may indicate two or
>   more uses of the words "graphic art."  T-L's paintings do not strike me as
>   graphic art, but of course it is common parlance to apply the term "graphic art"
>   to his (or anyone's) prints, particularly those that incorporate typography or
>   advertising,
>   though I would use the term "graphic design" to indicate the choice of typeface
>   and its placement relative to the image.

It seems to be a minor distinction.

Dinah asked about the connection between the fine arts and graphic design. T-L's
posters were (are) examples of graphic design inasmuch as they used illustrations
and words in an advertisement. Likewise Picasso designed and illustrated the cover
of the initial issue of "Minotaur."

W.A. Dwiggins stands as a particular exemplar of the congruence between graphic
design / graphic art and fine art. Similarly, Rockwell Kent, although I just know of
his illustrations and no typographic work. Or Ben Shawn, who did both work. Perhaps
the calligraphy of Hermann and Gudrun Zapf. (This list is beginning to gain

>   Stuart Davis is interesting because his paintings flattened the illusionistic
>   image
>   to the image plane and incorporated images of graphic elements in paintings,
>   creating "fine art" in which graphic art and design were subject matter.
>   This perhaps derives from or  reflects on the constructivists and futurists.

Davis was already working fully within the Cubist idiom of flattened pictorial
space, and, like Pablo and Georges and Juan et al., he used scraps of printed
materials, or the painted simulations of them, in his work.

Modernist art (= from 1860 to, say, 1980) freely took the items of popular culture
as basic material. Pop Art carried it to an apotheosis (after which irony set in!).
But the stream ran both ways. Popular culture absorbed and re-presented modern art.
Remember the old joke: Now every museum can have a Mondrian and Duchamp (meaning,
look in the bathroom at the urinals and black-and-white tiles). The advertising
illustration, especially of the post-WWII years, had the flat, Cubist-insprired look
that Davis exemplified. Fashion, particularly textile prints, put the bold colors
and shapes of abstraction on people's bodies!

Jasper Johns took painting one way, and incorportated graphic images into his work
for a very detached purpose. Rauschenberg used collage in an entirely different way.
And let's not forget our favorite Belgian, Rene Magritte, who posed the dilemma of
how an image is to be 'read,' especially in his famous "Ceci N'est Pas Une Pipe."

I'm offering a scattershot list of connections. It will be for others to find the
significance and importance of any one or more of these avenues for them to follow.

Michael Brady
jbrady@email.unc.edu   http://www.unc.edu/~jbrady/index.html

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