Concept Images and Revolution in Editorial Design
1. After the Second World War to what extent was design influenced by the fine art trends of the twentieth century?
After the World War II, political, economic and social aspects of various societies have gradually recovered from the devastation and grief brought by the war. Alongside with this, art and culture have also flourished which have greatly improved the quality of life of many individuals.
According to art historians, the stage after World War is considered as one of the most innovative times during the 20th century. This creative era thrived for almost 25 years ranging from 1945 to 1970. It is in this period where numerous art movements have emerged. In the 1940s Abstract expressionism was prevalent in New York while Pop Art became well-known in England and in America during the late 1950s to early 1970s (Christie’s).
Because of the new found freedom and democracy, artworks started to expand its horizon by using new materials and venturing into more avant-garde ideas. Furthermore, “the post-war period was a time of great technological strides; it was also rife with anxiety and optimism” (Men’s Vogue). This is an evident proof that art style trends during the 20th century have significantly changed the look of a design after World War II. For example, in the artworks of a Polish artist named Jane Lenica, his designs have evolved based on the prevailing trend at that time. In the early 1950s, his design incorporated simple and definite images but as he progressed his aesthetics also changed to being more abstract and bold (Polish Poster Gallery). In addition, the visuals in 1970s’s have become abandoned expressionism and shifter towards surrealism wherein the products of the unconscious mind was the common subjects of visual art.
2.Were the magazines and design work of this period a force that led social change or did they simply reflect social changes that were already happening?
The magazines and work design after World War II reflected the social changes that transpired during this period. Initially, during the revolution in editorial design, most American magazines altered the appearance of their respective publications in order to go along with the transformation of the society. Since the end of the war brought new opportunities, art directors took also the chance to overhaul the plain design of the magazines. In the 1950s, when the world has slightly recovered from the devastation of war, magazines wanted to reflect this affluence in their covers. But after a decade, when the economy had weakened, the magazine industry had also made some changes in order to be practical and cost efficient. This only shows that if the economy and the society are doing well, magazines and the work design will also adapt to the positive changes. But if the opposite happens to the economy and the society, magazines and work design will be forced to face the negative changes and determine ways on how make the best out of the worst condition. In the case of the Better Living magazine, when a new art director joined their company, new innovative ideas were introduced that resulted to the improvement of the appearance of the economy which corresponds to the economic boom then. But when the time came when the resources were limited, publications such as Ramparts magazine had to reduce the sizes of the images and emphasize the context in order make ends meet without compromising their outputs.
Based on these examples, magazines and their respective work designs reflected the changes that were happening within their environment. Without the instigating social factors for change, magazines and work designs will remain with the status quo. In short, magazines and work designs are reactionary or dependent towards the society in order to be able to impose changes.
“Jan Lenica.” (2009). Polish Poster Gallery. 10 February 2009 <http://www.poster.com.pl/lenica.htm>.
“Modern Love.” (September 2009). Men’s Vogue. 10 February 2009 <http://www.mensvogue.com/arts/slideshows/2008/09/cold-war-modern?slide=3#showNav>.
“Post War and Contemporary Art.” 2009. Christie’s. 10 February 2009 <http://www.christies.com/departments/post-war-and-contemporary-art/>.