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Contextual Studies

Updated on March 23, 2016


 This piece is named ‘Cueva las Manos’, also translated into ‘Cave of Hands’, dating back from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago this piece was found in South America in a series of caves along Argentina.  I chose this piece because it really differentiates
This piece is named ‘Cueva las Manos’, also translated into ‘Cave of Hands’, dating back from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago this piece was found in South America in a series of caves along Argentina. I chose this piece because it really differentiates

Cro-Magnon Artwork

This piece is named ‘Cueva las Manos’, also translated into ‘Cave of Hands’, dating back from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago this piece was found in South America in a series of caves along Argentina.

I chose this piece because it really differentiates from the other paintings known within the Cro-Mangnon period which often showed pictures of animals, the entirety of this painting is the handprints of what seems to be a tribe.

The Cro-Magnons were incredibly tribe based from what we know of, they fought in groups, had a leader and houses to shelter them from the weather during their time, to us it looked like they were incredibly family orientated and I believe this is what they wanted to bring across within this piece is their sense of community within the tribe, there wasn’t just a few hands on the wall but there’s many.

When it came to the cave art from these people, a lot of them were to do with their hunts, with the Shaman painting his visions to do with the people within the tribe. I believe that is really what this was to do with, in my own opinion I see this painting as a way that the Shaman has tried to protect the tribe, to have all the hands that are on the wall to make it back once again.

From the way that this painting was created, it differs from the rest of their art work, this piece is incredibly modern and looks as though they’ve spray painted the paint over their hands to create the outlines of them on the rock. Of course, we know that they couldn’t have used spray paint as they didn’t have any of the tools we have in the modern age but it makes you wonder how on earth they were able to create this effect, whether it was by mixing water with the soils and rocks to splash over the hands or whether they just painted the rock first and then printed their hands over the top of the cave wall.

Cro-Magnon and Cave Art


The Cro-Magnons form the earliest examples of Homosapiens in Europe, dating back to Ca. 40,000, all descending from the populations of the middle east. These Cro-Magnums lived from about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago in their Upper Palaeolithic periods of the Pleistocene epoch, in all that we know of them, the people who lived during these times were anatomically modern, only differencing from their modern day descendants in Europe by the slight robust physiology as well as a larger capacity brain than modern humans.

When they arrived within Europe, they brought with them their sculptures, paintings, body ornamentation, music and the decoration of utilitarian objects, these really were the start of art from what we know of, but they brought it with them to show what everyday life was, it was use to document rather than just for show like it is in a modern day environment.

Artifacts which have survived fromt their time include huts, cave paintings, carvings and anter-tipped spears. From all of these remenants, we can see that they knew how to use tools and how to make woven-like clothings. Their huts were creatred from rocks, clay, bones and branches as well as animal hide/fur.

Today we create our paintings using a variety of mediums; pencil, ink, paint, charcoal, but the Cro-Magnums used manganese and iron oxides to paint pictures and there are hints that they may have created the first calendar around 15,000 years ago.

When it comes to the artwork from these humans, the most recognizable and well known are their cave paintings which usually dated back to prehistoric times. The rock paintings themselves are from the same period as the Cro-Magnons and it is believed from what we’ve seen in these paintings that they’re the work of respected elders and leaders, those who had the importance to document it.

There is a common theme within these paintings and they’re mainly large wild animals (bison, horses, deer), traces of human hands and abstract patterns, named Macaroni by Breuil. Drawings of humans are rare but not unheard of and they’re more often schematic rather than more naturalistic animal paintings.

The paintings themselves were often drawn with red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide, and charcoal. Stone lamps helped to provide some light into the caves so that they could paint during any time of day. While we do not know the real reason as to why these people painted on the rocks of such every day objects and creatures, Abbe Breuil believed that the paintings may have been used as a kind of hunting magic, to give the hunters within their tribes the luck of finding the animals and bringing back a large kill for dinner. There was an alternative interpretation though, based on studies of more recent hunter/gatherer studies, and that is to say that the paintings were made by a Shaman in the Cro-Magnon era. The Shaman would retreat into the cave and paint their visions while in a trance-like state, they’d probably have the notion of drawing power from the rock and giving it to the people of the tribe who would be risking their lives to catch the food that the tribes needed to survive. This does help explain the remoteness of some of the paintings and the variety of subject matter but because of the lack of material evidence from the age of the Cro-Magnon era, its impossible to be certain of anything and to understand the prehistoric mind-set with a modern day mind.

Development of Papyrus

Development of Papyrus Artwork

This piece I am unsure of where it was from or the time that it was created during the Egyptian empire,most likely produced in the time period between 4,000 BC and the11th century AD, but it is one that we see in many different styles throughout the Egyptian artwork and papyrus surfaces. I chose it because of this reason, and because of the reasoning behind the objects painted upon it.

The eye is called the Eye of Horus, an Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health and is something which a lot of the Egyptian people wished to have a part of. The symbols that we see on this piece is them that are usually found in the tombs, something which would be carried with them through to the after life and would help them in the next life that they would face. The eye is to help the mummified body to see again when they reawoke, something which we are not known for sending our own deceased off with, but was normal for those during the Egyptian time range.

When it comes to looking at this piece you can really see the texture of the surface that it was created on and how hard it must have been to paint this on the papyrus surface and keeping straight lines across it rather than allowing the paper to take control of the way that the brush would glide across the page.

There's something about looking at this piece and you can see just how much work was put into it for the dead that it was created for, you see that the people living during that age really believed there was something to look forward to once you left the earth and they wanted their people to awake in the next life with anything that would help them, such as the protection from a painting like this or the riches that they would be buried with.

Development of Papyrus

The English word of paper comes from the ancient Egyptian writing materials named papyrus, this was created from the plants of papyrus to create a textured surface. The Egyptian realised over a period of time that they needed to develop their own written language and they needed a more appropriate surface to write on rather than continuing to carve into rock.

The Papyrus came from the plant Cyperus papyrus which grows to a height of ten feet and is found in the marshes of the river Nile. This plant was already key in the growth of the Egyptian empire as they used it to make a variety of different objects for everyday life such as clothing, food, medicine, furniture and mattresses.

Originally this plant was only used within Egypt but 10000BC was when papyrus paper had been bought by Romans, Greeks and people in West Asia once they realised just how efficient it was compared to the heavy clay they had been using to carry messages around from person to person.

To this day we are still unsure as to how they created the papyrus paper but scientists have experimented and theorised as to how they did it. They believe it was created by peeling away the outer layer of the stalk and slicing it into large but short strips before soaking them in water to remove the natural sugar which is produced by the plant. By removing the sugar from the plant, it helps the papyrus become much more flexible and after soaking it for a few days, the sheets are pounded and overlapped layer by layer before leaving to dry underneath a heavy weight for up to six weeks. Once these sheets had dried out, they were given a polish using ivory or a shell and only then was the paper ready to use.

Dawn of the Alphabet

Dawn of the Alphabet

The alphabet we know and use today originated from simple pictographic symbols such as hieroglyphics or cuneiform wedges, this was an incredibly early writing system that was around way before there was any form or alphabet around. The methods surrounding the hieroglyphs required a plethora of symbols to identify each and every word; writing was incredibly complex and limited to a small group of highly trained scribes.

During the second millennium b.c. (estimated between 1850 and 1700 bc) a group of Semitic-speaking people adapted a subset of the Egyptian hieroglyphics to represent the sounds within their language. This proto-Sinaitic script is considered the first alphabetic writing system where unique symbols stood for single consonants (vowels were left out in the written alphabet but instead spoken). This particular written language was written from right to left and was spread by merchants in parts of modern Lebanon, Syria and Israel, this consonantal alphabet was known as an abjad and consisted of 22 symbols which was simple enough for ordinary and untrained traders to learn and draw, making the use of it a lot more wide spread and accessible for the people around at the time.

By the 8th century bc this alphabet had spread to Greece where it was refined and enhanced so that they were able to record the Greek language. Some of the characters within this alphabet were removed whereas others were kept but the real change was the use of letters to represent vowels. Scholars now believe that this addition of the vowels, which allowed text to be read and pronounced, marked the creation of the first ‘real’ alphabet.

Originally the Greek language was written from right to left but over time it changed to boustrophedon where the direction of writing alternated with every line. By the 5th century, the direction of writing had settled into the pattern we know today, from left to right. Over time the Greek alphabet shaped several other alphabets, including Latin, which spread across Europe and Cyrillic, the precursor of the modern Russian alphabet.

As well as this history there is such thing as the Phaistos Disc, a curious archaeological find which they believed dated to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age. The purpose and meaning still remain unknown, making it an incredibly famous mystery in archeology. Nothing else has been found which is anywhere near comparable to the Phaistos Disc, there are however a small number of comparable symbols known from other Cretan inscriptions, known as Cretan hieroglyphics.

Many hundred years later, The Romans came into power and they had begun to use the Greek alphabet as the basis for the uppercase alphabet, the same which we know today. They also refined the art of handwriting and fashioned several different styles of lettering all to be used for different purposes. Rigid and formal script was to be used for important manuscripts and official documents, whereas quicker and more informal type style was for letters and routine writing. They had other important contributions to design such as the serif type, the style originated with the carving of letters into stone in ancient Italy, the stonemasons had added little hooks to the tips of letters to stop their chisel from slipping, something which turned out to be the aesthetic and legibility and a technique that we still factor into our own work to this day.

Dawn of the Alphabet Analysis

  • This piece here shows the alphabet used in everyday life during the time of the Grecians who lived during the time. The work itself is a mosaic, a piece which would usually be found on the floor of open spaces, in temples, public markets, anywhere that the public would be around to read and to understand exactly what was written on the piece.

    This shows something about how the understanding of the written alphabet had been changed to suit the needs of the public who now are able to understand and use it rather than it just being limited to trained scribes as it once had been. This isn’t a piece of artwork within the photograph but rather a piece of every day life as not only was this written alphabet shown on mosaic work but was also written onto pottery and onto coins which were used regularly during a day and still is to this day.

    Due to the fact that the picture would have obviously been used in a public place or even in someone’s home would mean that the meaning of the piece would have been to be read, to be noticed, it might have been a message to those passing through or even something to do with whoever was ruling over the population at the time. It was meant to be read and wasn’t something that people would have hidden away.

    In the photograph I’ve chosen the piece itself was created by way of mosaic, an art style which was just lifting off in Greece during the time that the alphabet was beginning to spread across the rest of the world, the process is long winded and included the artist to gradually perfect the pebble medium as they wouldn’t spread to other materials until later on in the period.

    What I like about this piece of work is how open it is to the rest of society, it was created for the people and not as some kind of artwork that only few people could afford. The people of the time had created pieces like this so that they could keep the public informed for matters to do with the areas they were in or for who was ruling ofer them at the time. It wasn’t such a time where there was an incredible divide within the people so that some weren’t allowed to learn the same way as the other, it was more about bringing together a society and one which has helped shape our own today.

Within this photograph you’re able to see how they’ve changed through time and no longer do they have words written within mosaics but rather now they had begun to chisel them into walls.

There was a lot of publicity with this form of writing and was made so people would see it and read it, something which really gives you a sense of the community that was going on during the time that the alphabet was still developing.

From here the way of showcasing the alphabet and he words on it has changed, no longer was mosaic used but now they were able to bring it onto a wall and a much more public setting. Reasoning behind this way of publicizing their knowledge is so they could show and use their signs and writing in much more public places rather than having to spend while on a mosaic which would just be a center piece of a public area.

As the century progressed the way to show the alphabet and the way it has changed so more can understand it became a lot more public and more open to the common people whose money came from their trade.

There are a lot of artifacts found to this day of the alphabet and words being chiseled into the walls, not a lot of the artifacts found from this era are in perfect shape due to the way that they carved it into the rock. It wasn’t until later during the Roman era that they found the technique they needed to keep the rock from breaking away, which is where we first found the Serif style.

The Invention of Paper

Invention of Paper

When it came to choosing an image to analyse I found it difficult to find one which I knew had historical referencing to it. I chose this one because it shows the texture and the way that they didn't exactly care about how white or bright the paper was as long as it was useable and able to write on.

This topic really makes me think back to the Papyrus, it was something they wanted to bring into their society to make it easier to write upon and to hold documents rather than the easily degradable papyrus or the heavy clay which was often used to document events and important lessons. It was something to help them grow and develop as a country and something which gave them a higher power over other countries who had yet to develop something similar to the paper surface.

One fact about this paper that they developed was that it was incredibly fragile and sharp tipped pens would not be able to write upon them which is why the Chinese often wrote using a brush and ink, something which would not only keep the paper from ripping but would also give it an incredibly regal look to it, something that the Chinese would often try to communicate to the outside world.

When it comes to looking at this topic, I can't say that I learned much from it, I found it incredibly similar to the papyrus but instead using different materials so that they no longer had to keep the same techniques they had during the age of the Egyptians. I feel like with this movement, they just wanted to bring in a more 'modern' feel to the technique of making papyrus paper.

The Invention of Paper

105 AD is the year that history has recorded that paper-making was introduced to the world, this was reported to the Chinese Emporor at the time by a man named Ts'ai Lun who was an official of the Imperial Court. This is not entirely true though as archeaologists in recent years have found evidence showing that it was around over 200 years before that in the Xuanquanshi ruins in Dunhuang during the era of Emperor Wu. Though Ts'ai Lun wasn't the person to invent paper, he was the person to spread the message around and was the person who documented it's history by introducing something which would show the movement and progress of the country.

Compared to how it is made now, the stages of creating paper was much different as during it's early stages within China it was made using mulberry, fishnets, rags and suspensions of hemp waste in water that was washed, soaked and beaten with a wooden mallet whereas now we create this by using trees and modern processes. During 105 AD, pulp was just as important to create paper as it is today, it was sprayed to mesh screens so the water would be removed then the wet paper would be lifted and squeezed until half of the water would come out of the paper itself. The remaining was heated until dry and was put through various different treatments to give each paper a different texture than the next.

Advancements in paper making came from developing smooth materials that with mould covering could be used to create new mould immediately with rounded bamboo strips which were laced together or stitched with silk, flax or animal hair. Also the addition of yellow dye to the paper was there as well, helping it become an insect repellent for making manuscript paper.

From here, paper began to move to Korea in the 6th Century where they used the same materials as mentioned before as well as adding rattan, bamboo, rice straw and seaweed. The movement them moved to Japan with help from a monk named Don-Cho. This making of paper was spread through central Asia and Persia before later being introduced to India by traders. This eventually spread right the way through the world, each adding more and more advanced methods of creating the paper before we found the modern way that we use today.

The Printing Press

The Printing Press

The image I've used here is a few pages of the Bible that Gutenberg spent a lot of his time and his money producing. It's something that you can see had a lot of time put into it and something where you really can see the amount of time and effort was put into such a average thing in our century.

The printing press was incredibly important but no one really recognised it as such but without it we could not have continued our experimentation with it and made it so much more modernised, so much more that we don't just have one tecnnique anymore, we have many and that's something which would have been unheard of during the fifteenth century.

Without this method I don't think we could have moved on anymore from it, it increased our levels of understanding and helped us begin to print so much more copies of what we needed. It meant that we no longer got confused with different handwritings and got words or sentences mistranslated because of a way that someone wrote as every single word was now uniform and stayed exactly as they had been when they were originally printed.

The Printing Press

During the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the Renaissance arived in England, France, Germany and Spance, the culture was already within Italy as a much monarchial state growth whereas in the countries mentioned, the cultured seemed to be court-based due to the period that the Christians who went against their clergy to try and restore the religion to what it had been once before.

Culture was growing the economic pace due to the peave and decreasing amount of famile and plague which helped to the regrowth and building of education for the population and the printing press. The thirteenth century was when paper money and cards reached the western countries, created by the use of block printing; the individual characters or pictures carved into a wooden block before ink was applied and transferred onto paper. This technique wasn't at all durable as over time, repeated prints caused the blocks to split over time and if they needed another shape for the block they would have to constantly recarve different blocks of wood to have a constant supply of the character needed to be printed. This method was seen to be too time consuming since the rise of people learning literacy and they wanted to find a method which would be a lot quicker and would cost a lot less.

The middle of the fifteenth century was seen to have people beginning to master printing techniques and were perfecting the art of printing with moveable metal. The first of these people was Johannes Gutenberg who as a stonecutter and goldsmith, was able to use lead, tine and antimony which all melt at low temperatures so that the surface become durable in the press and so made it possible for people to use and reuse the metal slabs without worrying about it wearing down. The printing was created by the slabs being arranged in the order with the mirror of the letter carved into the block so that they would print the desired word.

In 1452, Gutenburg borrowed money to that he would be able to start a project where he was able to print two hundred copies of the bibles, that were made by printing onto vellum, these bibles were incredibly expensive and an average clerk would have to use three years pay to buy the book within that time period, sadly only around fifty of these bibles have made it to this century.

Though his best efforts to keep his method a secret, the printing press spread quickly across the world, the sixteenth century saw European cities aquire the press but unsure of what techniques qould work best to make them efficient for the masses of people and successful in us of it. It was the Italians that managed to change the way the printing was made to make it so the completed amount of prints was multiplied, something which saved money on the cost of the books and a way that was able to create a lot more of the same thing for the population who wished to own it.

The movement really aided in the improvement of literacy and had a lasting impact on lives, even though it's primary reasoning was for religious and educational use that only upper class citizens could afford. The press made everything consistent and everything looking professional, it was a way to create a document in the masses and one which would be sure to look identical to any other copy as it rather than how they would differ if hand written.

Ulrich Boner

Ulrich Boner

Born during the early fourteenth century, Ulrich Boner was a Swiss German speaker was was also writer of fables. Born in Bern, Ulrich joined a clergy to start life as a monk but there were records going against this saying that he was married and that he was able to return to life outside as it was found recorded twice. His collection of Fables were titles Der Edelstein, also known as The Jewel in English, made in 1349, they were written in high German that ran through from 1050 to 1350. This was recorded to be the first book ever printed in German with no others coming before his.

Reaching a total of one hundred copies, his book was based in the style of the Latin writer Avinus from 400AD which introduced 42 fables that were name dedicated to Theodosius. He treated all of his sources with the freedom that they deserved and laid his pages out to show his consideration for these writers who's work he took and brought into his own.

He wanted the layout of his book to be clear to read, with a simple layout, the references clear within them so people knew what were sourced and what was his own but more importantly he wanted his layout to be such so that the readers were interested and amused at the stories that were being given to them from the book itself.

Ulrich Boner

Looking at Ulrich's work, you can see a man who wishes to spread the fables wide and in a way that everyone would be able to read and enjoy them. I found it hard to find information on his work but I hoped that I gathered enough to tell his story through it. From looking at this you really see the thought process he went through to make sure the book was as amusing as he wished it to be, he wanted the book to be something to be enjoyed and to be shared through all ages and families around. I think that would be why he's added the image to the bottom of it, so children can read these fables and if they struggle slightly then they've got the image on the page to help them out in anyway they need it to.

From publishing this book I believe he really began to start of the process of modern stories and printing them rather than sharing them by word of mouth which would have been the natural way to do so many years ago when printing was still new and only used for what the higher ups saw as necessities. Due to his work we were able to translate it again and again to modern stories because of the way that he had printed the copies to share with the people around him.

William Caslon

William Caslon

Born 1692 in Cradley, Worchester, William Caslon was an English type founder who's career reached its height between 1720 and 1726 where he designed the typeface which includes his name within it. His work helped modernise the book and made it a complete separate creation rather than a printed imitation of an older book. Caslon wasn't always a typographer, in fact he started his career in typography as an apprentice engraving gunlocks and barrels until he opened up his own shop for the same work in 1716 but instead of engraving armoury he began to create tools to make book binders and silver chasers.

From doing this, his work caught the attention of the printer John Watts and he soon gave Caslon the job of cutting type punches for presses in London. The year 1720 was when he had created the 'English Arabic' typeface, one which was used in the New Testament and in two years he got rid of many different forms such as excellent Roman, Italic and Hebrew typefaces for the printer, William Bowyer. This was all first established in 1726 with the Roman typeface which would later be named Caslon, his success was instant in England and this gained a large trade which enabled Caslon to set up his own type foundry and between the years of 1720 to 1780 very few books were published without the type forms from his foundry.

The first sheet with his type showcased on it was issued in 1734 and it included his type in fourteen sizes, in roman and italic, it didn't take long until his type was spreading all across Europe and to America where his typeface was one which was used to write the Declaration of Independence.

His eldest son joined the type foundry nine years later and though he didn't have the same reputation as his father, he still gained credibility with the help from his wife, Elizabeth. Agyer Williams death in 1788, the original foundry was split between the heirs and Caslon became known as the greatest typographer within the 18th Century. Unfortunately, the English printing was low and we became dependant on Holland for type forms which changed Caslon and put a stop to the Dutch importation . This was seen as the turning point of the English type foundry until Justin Howes restablished the Caslon foundry in 1998 until Howes passed and the company was no longer in business or on the retail market.

William Caslon

Knowing William Caslon as the greatest English typographer makes you wonder exactly what our typefaces would be like today if he had never changed our perspective on them and how we were able to print with them to make them so much more legible to read.

One of his most famous known works is that his typeface was used on the Declaration of Independence in the United States in 1776. It was a huge moment for his work as this document is still incredibly important to the world today. His typefaces were incredibly professional as well as legible and easily understandable, something which was important to have on such an official document which would need such a typeface to make it easily understandable to those who were readying to sign it.

The fact that one of our country's most famous typographer's works is on such a substantial document in America really is amazing as it shows just how much work was put into his typefaces and into his typefoundry to spread his designs throughout Europe and throughout the world so that others may be able to use it within their work so that the consistency of letters wouldn't change and the benefits it would offer those who found it hard to understand hand written pieces due to the calligraphy elements within them of those days.



Derived from the Greek words photos (‘light’) and graphein (‘to draw’), photography was first used by the scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel n 1839. The method itself is to record images by the action of light or related radiation on a sensitive material.

Alhazeb invented the first pinhole camera (called the Camera Obscura), he was an incredible authority on optics in the middle ages who lived around 1000AD, and was able to explain to everyone as to why the photographs came out upside down. First casual references to the optic laws that made the pinhole camera possible were observed and noted by Aristole around 330BC, who questioned as to why the sun could made a circular image when it shone through a square hole.

It was in 1827 that Joseph Nicephore Niepce made the first photographic image with a camera obscur. Prior to this, people used the camera merely for viewing or drawing purposes and hadn’t realised the potential for it to take photographs. Joseph Nicephore Niepce’s heliographs or sun prints as they were called were the prototype for the modern photograph by letting light draw the picture. Niepce placed an engraving onto a metal plate coated in bitumen before exposing it to light. The shadowy areas within the engraving but the whiter areas permitted the light to react with the chemicals on the plate. Putting this piece of metal into a solvent, Niepce found that an image, which had previously been invisible, appeared. The only problem with this form of photography was that it required eight hours of light exposure to create the piece but after it appears would soon fade away again.

Fellow Frenchman Louis Daguerre was also experimenting to find a way to capture an image but it took him another dozen years to reduce the exposure time so that it was less than thirty minutes and stopping the image from disappearing afterwards.

Because of this discovery, Daguerre is considered the inventor as the first practical process of photography. He partnered with Joseph Nicephore Niepce to improve the process that Niepce had originally developed. In 1839 after several years of experimentation and Niepce’s death, Daguerre had developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, even going as far as to name it after himself, the daguerreotype.

His process that he developed ‘fixed’ the images onto a sheet of silver-plated copper. He polished the silver sheet and coated it in iodine, this created a surface that was sensitive to light, after this he exposed the same plate in a camera for a few minutes. After the light painted the image onto this sheet of metal, Daguerre bathed the plate in a solution of silver chloride. This process was one that created a lasting image that wouldn’t change if it were exposed to light, which improved his from Niepce’s.

It wasn’t until 1839 that Daguerre and Niepce’s son sold the rights to the daguerreotype to the French Government and published a book that described the process to the public and to other people who were still trying to make a lasting image with the photograph they had taken. The daguerreotype gained popularity incredibly quickly and by 1859 there was over seventy daguerreotype studios in New York City along.

The inventor to the first negative from which multiple positive prints were created was Henry Fox Talbot, a man who was an English botanist and mathematician as well as a contempory of Daguerre. Talbot sensitized paper to light with a silver salt solution before exposing he paper to light. The background became black and the subject was rendered in gradations of grey. This was the negative image and from this paper negative, Talbot made contact prints that reversed the light and shadows that then created an incredibly detailed picture. He was able to perfect this process in 1841 and named it a Calotype, Greek for beautiful picture.

This negative to positive process was continued by various artists, Hamilton Smith for example patented Tintypes, the process being a thin sheet of ion was provided as a base for the light sensitive material, yielding a positive image.

In 1851 Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor, invented the wet plate negative. Using a solution of collodion, he coated glass with light sensitive silver salts and as this was glass and not paper, the wet plate created a much more stabled and detailed negative which would provide an even higher quality positive photograph. Although this process advanced photography considerably, the wet plates had to be developed quickly before the emulsion dried which meant that a lot of photographers would have to carry along a portable dark room with them.

It wasn’t until 1879 that the dry plate was invented, a glass negative plate with a dried gelatine emulsion. These dry plates could be stored for a period of time and photographers need not portable darkrooms and could now hired technicians to develop their photographs. Dry processes absorbed light so quickly that the hand held camera was now a possibility.

1889 was when George Eastman invented a film with a base that was flexible, unbreakable and could be rolled. Emulsions coated on a cellulose nitrate film base, such as Eastman’s,, made the mass produced box camera a reality rather than it continuing to be just a mere possibility.

Colour films weren’t brought into the market until the early 1940’s. These filmes used the modern technology of dye-coupled colours in which a chemical process connects the three dye layers together to create an apparent colour image. This was the first colour film that was readily available to the public other than Kodachrome, an earlier released colour film which wasn’t as detailed as the later released film.


Boulevard Du Temple is known to be one of the most astonishing photographs ever taken and is documented to be the first that ever included a person within a photograph. Before this piece there had been no photographs yet to be taken of humans but rather just landscapes due to the long exposure time which would mean that everything had to stay the same during that time to get the image they wanted.

Daguerre had to use an exposure of 10-15 minutes to get the photograph and the streets during this time was incredibly busy meaning that due to the movement of the people they wouldn't have been caught on the photograph but there were two who were caught in the bottom right corner, a man and a shoe shiner. Some people believe that Daguerre may have positioned these two people so that he had them in the photograph rather than just having an empty street whereas others firmly believe that they had been there of their own free will.

There's something about this photograph which really changes the way that I look at photography, today we take it for granted a lot of the time as we can just get our phone out and take a picture of anything without having to think about it but during the time that these photos were taken, it was something precious and something which took time and money to do so. Photography has changed a lot during the last century but what hasn't changed is just was this photo shows, people doing every day things and just living their lives the way they always have. Back then photographs took a long time to take and even longer to receive whereas now we can just save it onto a device and forget about it a couple months later.

Photographs were much more important back then compared to what they are now and I find that quite upsetting more than anything, it's as though we've lost the excitement of capturing a moment on camera and treasuring it for years to come.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

Beginning in 1890. Art Nouveau focuses completely on the way decorative arts and architecture presents themselves in the art world through to the twentieth century. This really caught the eye of Europe and developed into a huge range of patterns and styles as well as gaining many more names, one of them being Jugendstil. The idea behind this movement was really to modernise art and the design of it rather than keeping the same popular styles shown in the historical pieces of artwork.

Those artists who took inspiration from this movement drew from natural and geometric forms, they had the inspiration to combine the two to create rich and beautiful design surrounded in flowing bold lines and colours. These artists wanted to get rids of the usual and 'liberal' form of arts which had pantings and sculptures seen as a higher form of arts rather than the crafts based styles. This had a huge influence later on in the movements and though Art Deco took it's places in the 1920s, it came back in the 1960s and is seen the movement that really started the modernism of the art world.

It really was the need to get rid of historical designs and patterns that came in with the 19th century that set this movement in motion. They wanted art not to just be for those who specialised in it but to allow those who were interested in the movement to join in and create their own artwork for it. It was a movement which wanted all of those who loved art to join in and to have their own piece of the movement themselves.

Early Expressionism

Early Expressionism

The idea of expressionism is for it to be an art style in which the artist seeks not to depict an objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that happen to the artist due to the area surrounding them. The way that artists are able to create this is through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism and even fantasy; all of this is shown through vivid, jarring, violent and dynamic application of the formal elements. They’re able to bring this across within their work with the use of unnerving and unnatural colors and the distortion of objects within the piece that would otherwise look natural in the world around them.

If we were to broaden the sense of expressionism, then it was one of the main currents of art in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, often featuring highly subjective, personal and subjective self-expression pieces. In a more specific sense, Expressionism is a distinct style movement that refers to a number of German artists as well as Austrian, French and Russian, all who became active in the years before World War I and remained so through much of the interwar period.

The roots of the German Expressionist school do originate from the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Much and James Ensor, each of them evolving their own painting style within the period 1885-1900. They broke away from the literal interpretation of nature and instead expressed more subjective outlooks of their state of mind, exploring dramatic and emotion- laden themes to convey fear, horror and even hallucinatory intensity of the world around them.

The second and principal wave of Expressionism really began in 1905 when a group of German artists let by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner formed an association called Die Brucke (‘The Bridge’) while in the city of Dresden. The group itself involved, Erich Heckel, Jarl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl. These artists were those who were opposing what they saw as the superficial naturalism of academic Impressionism. They wanted to reinvent German art with a spiritual vigor that they believed it had lacked, they brought this to into the art through elemental, primitive, highly personal and spontaneous expression. It wasn’t long until the original Die Brucke members were joined by Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Muller.

The German Expressionists soon developed a style noticeable for the harshness, boldness and just the intensity that it threw toward those coming to view the piece. They used distorted and jagged lines, crude and rapid brushwork along side unnerving colours to depict urban street scenes and other contemporary subjects in crowded and agitated compositions notable for their instability and the emotionally charged atmosphere. Expressionism is showing your own feelings and emotions in your work and a lot of their works express emotions such as frustration, anxiety, disgust, discontent and violence.

A couple years after this, there was another group of artists similar to Die Brucke, and after the rejection of Kandinsky’s painting The Last Judgement, they formed Die Blaue Reiter.

Expressionism was a dominant style in Germany during the years following World War I as it suited the post-war atmosphere. As the movement moved through the years, labels such as Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism to explain the emotional qualities of Expressionism.

One thing about Expressionism is that it is often confused in some senses for Surrealism as artists use colours outside of the usual guidelines or the brushstrokes are so erratic that it creates other shapes than what the objects within the paintings really are, due to the distorted view of these pieces inside the work, many people are confused on whether the art fits into the Expressionistic movement or the Surrealist due to the similarities of the distortion and changed state of the naturalistic elements within the painted piece.

One painting to look at for this movement is Edvard Munch’s The Scream, a piece which was often misinterpreted during the first years that it was in exhibitions. It is by far the most famous of Munch’s paintings and is considered the icon of Modern Art, something which links this painting to the Art Nouveau movement as well.

One thing which you can see within this piece is the colours he has used to create the scene around the figure, they’re nothing of what you would consider naturalistic, the sky is coloured a bloody red, which in some peoples eyes has been interpreted as a sunset, and the rest of the scene seems completely disjointed to the main figure.

The figure itself has a very skeletal feel to it, there is no definition within the painting for anyone to figure out whether this painting is male or female, something which Munch wanted to get across within this, the figure wasn’t meant to be a person but the anxiety and fear inside of them toward the ever changing society that they live in. I believe that since he has drawn the figure so skeletal he has wanted to portray it as something deep down within every single one of us that we don’t often get to see.


Evolving between a period of heroic and rapid innovation between Picasso and Georges Braque, cubism was one of the first truly modern movements to emerge into the art world. The movement was described as having two stages to it, the analytic cubism which forms seemed to be analysed and thought through, fragmented even; then there was synthetic cubism which newspaper and other foreign materials were collaged to the surface of a canvas as synthetic signs for depicted objects. The style of cubism was really developed by Fernand Léger and Juan Gris but it brought a lot of host of adherents both in Paris and abroad and would go on to influence those within the abstract expressionist movement.

The movement of analytical cubism really staged modern arts most radical break with traditional models when it came to representation by abandoning perspective which artists had used to order space since the Renaissance. It also turned away from modelling figures realistically and moved toward a system of representing bodies in space that employed small tilted planes set in a shallow space. Over a period of time, Picasso and Braque also moved toward this open form as they pierced the bodies of their figures, allowed the space to flow through them and blended the background into the foreground of the picture. There are some historians who have argued that the movement’s innovations represent a response to the changing experience of space, movement and change of time in the modern world.

Cubism of the synthetic front proved just as important and influential for later artists. Instead of relying on depicted shapes and forms to represent certain forms and objects, Picasso and Braque began to explore the use of foreign objects as abstract signs within their work. The way they used newspaper would later lead historians to argue that instead of being concerned with forms above anything else, the artists were incredibly aware of the world around them and the current events happening, namely WWI.

Cubism really did pave the way for geometric abstract art by putting an entirely new emphasis on the unity between the depicted scene n a picture and the surface of the canvas itself. Innovations like this would be taken up by artists such as Piet Mondrian who continued to explore the used of the grid and the abstract systems of signs and the use of shallow space.

In the early phase of cubism, the movement developed in an incredibly systematic fashion which was later to be known as the analytic period of the style as it was based on close observation of objects in their background contexts.

When it comes to cubism one of the artists who keep making a comeback is Pablo Picasso as he really did focus on all of the elements that really make up both analytical and systematic cubism.

What he used as his subject matter was portraiture using different shapes, limiting his colour pallets and making it look as though the pieces making up the portraits, such as The Weeping Woman, are magnetised together, all the shapes fitting together perfectly. He was influenced to add more weight to his figures and the structures around them and these influences eventually set him onto the path toward cubism where he started to deconstruct and change the conventions on perspective and space which had dominated the art scene since Renaissance days.

Picasso is really known for his invention of collage within cubism as he ignored the idea of the picture being like a window to objects within the world and instead began to use it as an arrangement of signs, some with metaphorical meanings, to refer to these objects, something which would continue to influence people in decades to come.

When I look at Pablo Picasso’s work, what I really see is someone trying to abandon societies principles about art and wanting to show the public exactly how different art can really be. When we think of portraiture, what you think of is soft lines, making it look as close to the model as you possibly can but with Picasso he couldn’t go further from there. The faces of his work is incredibly sharp and jagged, all cutting away from one another so that it could star going into the background and making the scene appear. His portraits are nowhere near what people actually look like but what, as I see it, is how he believes what people are like on the inside, its not about making something look as it is meant to but rather, like early expressionism, showing the emotion behind it.

One thing he uses is an incredibly limited colour pallet and honestly, I think this works better than anything else, within the piece of The Weeping Woman, he only uses colours such as yellow, green, blue, red, white and black, and the way he uses these colours within the piece really gives it depth and lifts it from the page or canvas. How I see it is that he had used certain colours in places to really make that area stand out, the mouth for example on this piece, it is coloured in a white, almost silver colour, and that is completely different to the rest of the portrait which is yellows and green, I love how he’s done this as it really shows the pain in which this woman is going through, just looking at her mouth and seeing how she is trying to keep her mouth clamped close so she doesn’t allow a sound to escape her lips.

Although he uses incredibly sharp shapes and jagged lines, the work itself is incredibly smooth as the pieces work incredibly well together, its almost as though, in my eyes, you’re looking through a kaleidoscope focused in on a person and really changing your perspective on them. The background does look as though it had a rough texture, almost as though Picasso wanted this difference between the foreground and background to make the woman stand out from the piece, even though he is using the same colours to colour the foreground as he does the background.

Overall I see this piece as one which has an incredibly sad mood, it almost looks as though this woman is suffering and wants to blend into the background so she’s not noticed, something which works well with the colours used. What I’ve found is that when I first look at Picasso’s work is that it really does look like a mess of shapes trying to make up a figure but the closer I’ve looked and the deeper I’ve researched into cubism, I can see more about the piece and can understand as to why he has shaped the face as he does.


Originating from Russia, Constructivism was considered the most influential modern art movement within the country during the twentieth century even though it was also considered the last art movement within the country also.
This movement really didn’t start until the Bolsheviks came into power during the October Revolution in 1917 and the movement originally acted as a beacon for hopes and ideas of advanced Russian artists who supported the Russian revolution’s goals.
Though this art movement was its own, it borrowed ideas from cubism, suprematism and futurism, though at heart it was an entirely new approach to creating objects as they wanted to abolish the traditional artistic concern with composition and replace it with a kind of construction form.
This movement of constructivism really called for technical analysis of modern materials and since they wanted careful analysis, they hoped the investigations into it would bring ideas that could be used within mass production which would serve a modern communist society. Ultimately the movement didn’t quite make the transition from art studio to factory, some continued to insist on the value of the abstract analytical work that was created through constructivism. The artists who continued to pursue the importance of constructivism had an incredible impact on helping constructivism spread throughout Europe. Other artists who didn’t try and continue the movement pushed a different and short lived movement known as Productivism which involved artists working within industry.
Unfortunately during the mid 1920s, Russian Constructivism went through a decline due to it becoming victim to the Bolshevik regime’s hostility to avant-garde art pieces, but due to this would be an inspiration to artists within the west, creating a movement of International Constructivism that flourished within Germany during the 1920’s and endured to the 1950s.

For many constructivists, they had an ethic of ‘truth to materials’ which had a believe that materials should be employed in accordance with what they are capable of.


Dada was a movement based on artistic and book-related/writing-related that began in Switzerland, the city of Zurich and was a result of WWI and what they believed that had led to the war. This was influenced by the other Avant Garde movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism and Expressionism and had a wildly output that ranges from performances of art, poetry, photography, sculpture, painting, and visual mixture. It was marked by selfish attitudes to prove a powerful influence on the artist in the many cities that the movement hit this includes Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York and weak perfume as they were all creating their own groups and this was one of the movements that established weirdness.

It was the first idea-based art movement where the focus of the artwork was not on creating pleasing objects but on making the work have thoughts and feelings and created many different questions about the role the artist took and what the purpose of it was. The members were intent that they wanted to change the normal behavior of the culture that artists like Hans Arp wanted to include/combine a chance into the creation of the different works of art and this went against the way that the usual art was produced where the work was planned and completed, this introduction of chance was a way for the Dadaists being able to challenge the way that they believed that art should be about and how they would see it. The Dadaists are know for their use of objects that have already be built and that can be controlled/moved around/misled by the artist with the presentation although this made questions about the ability of the artist and this movements purpose.


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