Tag Archives: history

A Brief History of Political Cartoons

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a political cartoon could be considered a lengthy editorial.

Today, political cartoons have the power to catch a reader’s eye in a sea of digital information but once upon a time political cartoons were vital to the consumption of information by society at large.

Take a journey to the beginning of political caricature drawings to fully understand how this art form stood the test of time.

In the Beginning

Even though caricature drawing was around during the time of Leonardo da Vinci, it was not considered art until politics got involved. However, a shift in thinking began to occur when, in the 16th century, a merchant class began to arise. This meant that leadership in civilized societies no longer belonged exclusively to high-class-educated-folk. People within the villages were seen as leaders too, even though several of them were illiterate.

The power of the middle class was recognized by Martin Luther, who was passionate about advancing reforms that went against the Catholic Church. To gain support for these reforms, Luther acquired visual tools. Using pamphlets like Passional Christi und Antichristi allowed Luther to spread his message of reform and gain the support of people who could not read.

Then came Benjamin Franklin

In 1754, another milestone in political art occurred when Benjamin Franklin had “Join, or Die.published in the Pennsylvania Gazette. In it, he used a picture of a disjointed snake to represent the importance of the colonies coming together to overcome conflict with the Iroquois. The image and slogan were revered by people in every colony, and the authors of The Ungentlemanly Art: A history of American Political Cartoons claim it was published in “virtually every newspaper on the continent.”

Following the Civil War

Thomas Nast has been called the “Father of the American Cartoon.” In fact, he is credited for elevating the elephant and donkey to positions of political notoriety. More so, President Lincoln often referred to Nast as “his best recruiting sergeant.” But arguably, Nast’s most famous cartoon could be found in Harper’s Weekly as early as 1871. He drew pictures of the corrupt politician William “Marcy” Tweed, which garnered “one of the most celebrated specimens of graphic social protest in American history.”

Political Cartoons Today

Political cartoons and cartoonists can have just as much influence today as they did before the Information Age. However, the type of influence is different. Rather than provoking people to take action (as they did in the past), political cartoons are excellent teachers of history. The World Affairs Council claims, “Because a political cartoon is a primary source from a particular era, it is a valuable tool for teaching history.”

In the Information Age, when words are plentiful but facts are fleeting, political cartoons disrupt mundane content, evoke curiosity and enable readers to learn about historical events – not from a textbook, but from self-guided quests.

The history of political cartoons goes far deeper than this article, and, if history is any indication, it will continue for years to come. Stay tuned.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

The Style and Poise of a Colonial American Portrait Painter

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

What is Art? A Brief History of the Definition of Art

Be an Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

Segmation

Join us on FacebookSegPlay® Mobile iTunes now available for iPhone and iPad

www.segmation.com

What Is True About The Color Blue?

Blue is a color of speculation; the color means different things to different people. For instance, some find the hue mellowing while others find it encourages strength. Today we dress boys in blue, but until the 1900s it was known as a girl’s color. More so, the amount of blue shades can seem overwhelming. From sky blue to navy and even electric, each blue shade can be interpreted in a unique way.

Diving into the history behind the color blue shines light on its checkered past, but it doesn’t necessarily explain why we feel blue or are drawn to blue humor. Nevertheless, knowing the history of blue can help us understand how this color influences the world we live in today.

Biblical Blue

In biblical times the color blue was seen as holy. The Old Testament notes how the High Priest wore a blue robe and the Ark of the Covenant was covered with a blue cloth. Similarly, in the book of Numbers, God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to “…make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them…” (Numbers 15:40 NIV). More so, recall early paintings of the Virgin Mary. She was often portrayed wearing celestial blue.

Blue Laws

However, by the early years of Colonial America blue had taken on a different meaning. In short, blue meant bad. At this time, there was something called, “Blue Laws.” According to First Amendment professor David Hudson, these laws were put in place to “…encourage people to go to church, and to prohibit people from engaging in secular activities.” A shining example of a Blue Law is the prohibition of alcohol sales on Sundays.

Blue Humor

Today, many of us fear the pink slip, but years ago comedians feared the blue envelope. In the early 1900s, traveling comedy groups were handed blue envelopes before they entered new venues. The envelopes contained notes on what material ought to be cut from the show so no local audience members would be offended.

What Do You Think About The Color Blue?

Believe it or not, the rich history behind the color blue continues. Have you ever wondered why people sing the blues? And do you know what a “blue devil” is? The NPR article, “Sacred, Sad And Salacious: With Many Meanings, What Is True Blue?“ continues to unravel the history behind blue. But this story cannot end until we know what the color blue means to you.

Do you have a strong connection to the color blue? If so, what shade speaks to you? And how do you use this color to brighten up your world? Share with us by leaving a comment in the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

Blue is for Boys, Pink is for Girls

Blue Trees in Seattle

Fun Facts About Familiar Colors

Be an Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

Segmation

Join us on FacebookSegPlay® Mobile iTunes now available for iPhone and iPad

www.segmation.com

St. Valentine and the History of Romance

Valentine’s Day greetings come in many shapes and sizes. On February 14, people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia can be found expressing their affection by sending cards, flowers, chocolates, and other special treats. These Valentine’s Day traditions are rarely disputed but the story of how the holiday came to be has many interpretations.

There is, however, one fact which all sources agree on: Valentine’s Day has evolved over the course of nearly 2000 years. Like many holidays, it was inspired by a noble man who was named saint by the Catholic Church. To understand the fullness of this holiday, get to know the person and traditions that are celebrated each year on February 14.

Saint Valentine

Before his sainthood, Valentine was a priest who protected young lovers’ right to marry in third century Rome. It is said that Emperor Claudias II banned marriage around this time because he believed that “single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children” (History.com). During this authoritarian ruling, Valentine defied the law and continued to marry couples in secret. He was later killed because of these actions.

Considered a martyr, the Catholic Church recognized Valentine as a saint and, in 5th century AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as a holiday to celebrate him.

February 14

There is some debate about why February 14 was declared Valentine’s Day. One thought is that this date was an anniversary of St. Valentine’s execution by Claudias. It is also believed that Pope Gelasius wanted to implement a religious celebration that could negate a long held pagan festival called Lupercalia, which was held annually on February 15.

Adding Romance

The holiday hasn’t always been known as a romantic affair. According to public record, it took nearly 1000 years for the first Valentine’s Day card to be written. However, by the 18th century it was common place for people to exchange written notes and presents in the name of love. With the advent of the printing press, cards were created in mass quantities, which encouraged people to send “ready-made” cards.

Valentine’s Day has grown into a widely celebrated and beloved holiday in many countries, and knowing the history behind February 14 adds richness to the date.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by partaking in something you enjoy and sharing it with others. Express your love through art by creating a beautiful picture. Not an artist? Become an artist in minutes by using Segmation, the only virtual paint by numbers game. Choose a pattern today: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=VAL.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Segmation.

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

Colorful Roses on Valentine’s Day Communicate Love

Be My Valentine

Roses May Smell the Same, but Colors Make a Difference

Be a Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

Segmation

Join us on FacebookSegPlay® Mobile iTunes now available for iPhone and iPad

www.segmation.com

Bauhaus Art School

Are you impressed to learn about the invention of Op-Art?

The modern art style, best associated with the art and theory of Josef Albers, influenced an artistic evolution throughout the 20th century, and continues to impact the 21st century as well.

But did you know that this trendy new art form started in Germany in the early 1900’s? Even more, it was created and taught at a school that was also a forerunner for architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

The famous school of art, called Bauhaus, existed in three different parts of Germany between the years of 1919 and 1933. This seems like a short period of time to have such a strong influence on the world. However, the principal thoughts and practices that encouraged artists at Bauhaus traveled with them and spread throughout the world when many of the practicing students and teachers had to emigrate during Nazi control.

The Bauhaus art school was known as a “House of Construction” or a “School of Building.” Even though studies in architecture were not implemented until later, the school built its values on the idea that creating a “total” work of art incorporates multiple elements of art.

A good example of this is optical art’s use of three types of elements: optical illusions, canvas painting, and color. Perhaps it was this concept of completeness that catapulted the Bauhaus style into success, becoming one of the most influential styles in modern art, design and architecture.

Another thought that contributed to the success of Bauhaus was the founding philosophical principle of constructivism. This term originated in Russia and commonly associated with the idea that art could contribute to a better society. With major political and economic shifts happening all over the world, especially in Europe, people learned they could express themselves and propel a positive message with art. Even though there was a negative atmosphere in the world during the time of World War I and leading up to World War II, individual artists knew that art had the power to carry the significant message of peace.

In a war-torn society, Bauhaus school had much to teach. Here are some common art forms that excelled and were mastered by artists at the school between 1919 and 1933:

  • Woodworking
  • Cabinetmaking
  • Work with Metal
  • Ceramics
  • Weaving
  • Printing and typography
  • Theater
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Architecture
Bauhaus art school existed at a poignant time in history. It’s location in the world and foundational European thought are two of the many reasons why it is still a reputable resource for art history today. The other reasons are artists, styles and creations that were consistently produced by the school. These are the pieces that influence modern art today, and will continue to do so evermore.