Advertising and Fine Art

To this day, a debate continues whether illustration is actually art. If you’ve followed me on Art Works by Dede Farrar on Facebook you probably already know what side I am on. Go illustration!

I’m a huge fan of Art Nouveau which features many advertising posters. The heyday of Art Nouveau ran around 1890 to about 1915. During this time, art was making a change from highly detailed works to more simplification leading to abstraction.

Clinique Cheron by Theophile Steinlen created 1894.

Clinique Cheron by Theophile Steinlen created 1894.

The work on the left by artist Theophile Steinlen created 1894 advertises pet medicine. By 1894 pets are becoming more important to a growing middle class who can afford to feed and care for them. Still, in the 1890s, food was hard to come by for many regular people and so pet ownership was beyond the reach of people who struggled financially. Thankfully, most of us who love animals can afford to live with a few now days. Dog, cats, and fishes are part of my household.

Elements of Art Nouveau I really enjoy are the colors and the design. The figures in the posters are simplified. Framing devices are used like blocks of colors around the edges. Lettering is featured advertising a product or event. Images are clearly recognizable and most people consider them beautiful and pleasing to the eye.

To show how Art Nouveau influences my own work I’ve included my latest painting which is a

This painting will be entered in the Prairie Berry Winery Pumpkin Bog wine label contest. Created by Dede Farrar, M.F.A. February, 2014.

This painting will be entered in the Prairie Berry Winery Pumpkin Bog wine label contest. Created by Dede Farrar, M.F.A. February, 2014.

design for the Prairie Berry Winery Pumpkin Bog wine label contest. Bright colors, framing device of the dark blue around the edges, outlining shapes in fine black line, images of animal and plant recognizable but not overly detailed can be compared with Art Nouveau design. The rules of the contest prohibited me from adding lettering, but my next project will incorporate lettering.

So, I’m documenting current events happening in my own environment. One hundred years from now, if my paintings survive, they will tell a story of the local area. I like that idea. So I think advertising can be art. Today, most advertising art comes from photography and computer generated images, but there is still room for artists like me to contribute.

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