Designers/Artists of the Past


Assignment Two


QUESTION: THE DESIGNERS/ARTISTS OF THE PAST HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY TO US, AS PRACTISING DESINGERS, TODAY. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?


Art and design do coveys various types of communication, for informative purposes and for entertainment value. In order for a creator to produce something creative they must draw from their inner impulses, and the environmental and historical influences around them in order to communicate a language. Throughout the centuries art and design has seen numerous art movement arise depicting their views on how are and design should be communicated in the hope for social reformation. They sought about enforcing changes in art and design by creating new ideals, adopting and adapting to old ideal and regurgitating new ones in order to form new art movements throughout each era. However they never succeeded to conform to one art style, instead they carved theories, styles and techniques into history.


With the emergence of the following eras we have arguably gained three of the greatest painters/designers the world has ever known. They have not only brought some of world famous paintings and advertisements, they have also developed theories and techniques in which all new designers/artists follow when creating work. Techniques like the way we construct our pieces with strong visual depth of field, and illusions can be obtained from the eighteenth century, decoration style, Rococo. Art Nouveau with its sensuous curves, flowing lines and its ease with abstract motifs, ensured that all things resembles handwork and handicrafts and not purely bland conformity. The Bauhaus however followed on after the Art Nouveau and striped ornamentation leaving behind clean lines and function, ensuring that students reform to an artistic process (Malyon, 1997-2001).


Rococo was an art style during the eighteenth century. It emerged from French émigrés, who used the word to designate the whimsical fashion of the old shellwork style (style rocaille). It was seen to be the climax or degeneration of Baroque, however both styles had little effect on architectural construction, and were regarded as merely “a new kind of decoration which culminated in the resolution of architectural forms of the interiors (pilasters and architraves), rather than being an actual style” (The Age, 2004).


Rococo’s decoration portrayed the carefree life of the aristocracy rather than on “grand heroes or pious martyrs” (Delahunt, 1996). Love and romance was portrayed considerably as they were seen to be better subjects for art rather than historical or religious subjects. The eighteenth centuries notion of painting was as a staged fiction in order to involve the viewer on a purely imaginative level. The style produced many artists who were masters of light, colour and fantasy. Arguably one of the greatest painters was Giambattista Tiepolo (1696- 1770).


His works combined Illusionism and Veronses extravagance from High Baroque. However he also paints with imagination by transposing the world of ancient history, myth, the scriptures and the sacred legends into a grandiose, even theatrical languages.


His work The banquet of Cleopatra (figure 1) represents this era of luxury and extravagance, through its shear size and its dramatic style it captures a famous incident from the life of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. Tiepolo has portrayed Pliny’s story of a wager between Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and Mark Anthony, Roman consul in Egypt. This story shows them challenging each other to spend the most on a single banquet, Cleopatra finally winning by dissolving one of the rarest pearls of the ancient world in vinegar and swallowing it.


This theatrical piece portrays the setting in the The banquet of Cleopatra with no relevance to Egypt apart from two Egyptian figures and a Sphinx fountain. Instead of creating a painting of historical information, Tiepolo has portrayed a kind of exotic, grand fantasy. The clothing that he has painted them in too shows no historical continuity as Cleopatra is wearing a 16th Century Venetian dress, and Mark Anthony is in a Roman costume. Rather than the justaucorps, waistcoats and breeches that the men typically wore, or a polonaise a robe, which was lifted up and poufed in back, supported by a bustle pad that gave the illusion that the lady had an overly large backside, known as Cul de Paris, which the women typically wore (Jaeggi, 2003).


Tieopolo paved a style which can