Purple Haze – Channelling Art Nouveau within 60’s Psychedelia

Today’s keynote was a discussion on Art Nouveau and how fragments and traces of the past appear in the present. Generally the past is woven into the fabric of a new story and we play around with this idea in our work, sometimes the fragments have been modified so that they’re not the same as they were in the past.

We started to look at different examples of nouveau, the first was The Beatles album cover, Revolver. The cover was an illustration of the band created in a photo montage style, heavily influenced by the 60’s psychedelia. Another Example was Jimmy Hendrix and his unique and unusual fashion sense. Hendrix used to experiment with different patterns and  prints, a celebration of nouveau style.

What is Art Nouveau?

“Revolution in the head” MacDonald 1994.

A design movement that included all art subjects and the creation of interior, architecture, posters, clothing, items and unique artworks. The work has no geometric patterns or no sharp corners, but continuous natural swirls and patterns inspired by nature. Women are usually linked to the work, blurred into natural settings, along with animals and plants created in an abstract style. So as MacDonald said ‘Revolution in the head” he was implying that the movement was created by the art word, rebelling against tradition, evoking freedom and individuality.

William Morris

Another example of Art Nouveau was found in the works of William Morris who experimented with abstract prints of nature and plant forms. The English textile designer created wallpaper and prints using abstract patterns inspired by nature. Following The art nouveau 60’s psychedelia his work started to become popular prints for clothing. There is an example of this also on the Pink Floyd album poster from the 60’s.

Sex, Sexuality & Potions

One of the main themes behind the art nouveau was the use of drugs and erotica in the artwork. what was once considered to be condemned in society was now being exploited and experimented with. Different artists were bringing these elements into their works, for example Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, the idea of an innocent female going into the world of decadence. Using the different characters, colours and wacky illustrations giving the sense of drug use!

Aubrey Beardsley

Beardsley was an important illustrator in the decade, his work was drug filled, sexually charged and full of decadence! His unique style of working inspired the fashion and music industry. His work definitely broke the rules of tradition and the art movement were really empowered and inspired by his work. Rock bands started to create posters using his style illustrating and from this strange things started happening to typography.

How does this relate to my work?

Todays keynote has really inspired me to ‘break the rules’ within the way I create and design. I learnt that sometimes it’s okay to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with different colours, shapes and in my case different letters/typefaces. Learning  about how people like Jimmy Hendrix stood up for what they loved and broke the tradition of their time, really inspired me to try and experiment more in my work and share my ideas whenever I get an opportunity. I definitely would like to experiment with Art Nouveau in my future works, and possibly combine the idea with something slightly more modern to create a unique piece of work!

‘No Sex please, I’m Sherlock’ – Applying Academic Theory and Writing to your ideas

Dr Ashley Morgan looked into the TV show Sherlock on the BBC, and showed a clip of Dr Watson attempting to be friend Sherlock through asking if he has a girlfriend or boyfriend. However Sherlock is confused as he doesn’t know how to socialize. Naturally he thinks that Dr Watson is asking him on a date even though he makes it clear he is only interested in his work proving Sherlock is an asceticist.

In the past asceticism was seen as mainly religious, when people would become nuns, Monks and give up sex all together. However more contemporary asceticism revolves more around the body, like giving up chocolate for example.

Sex is usually seen as a symbol of masculinity and often portrayed in a fixed manner when shown on the TV. We understand them as both masculine and heterosexual. Heterosexual males are usually seen as married, employed, possibly violent and well dressed in suits and ties. On TV there are examples of these types of men, such as Lewis, Luther and Alec Hardy. Going back to the clip about Sherlock, it proves that he does not fit these profiles. At first it is questionable whether Sherlock is asexual (No sexual desires or feelings), however it becomes clear he is a acseticist as he has a sexual nature through out the show.

We never question Sherlock’s masculinity even through his profile doesn’t fit in with he heterosexual male stereotype. He demonstrates this through his homosocial relationship ( a relationship that falls before sex) with Dr Watson. Sherlock is a hyper-intellect, narcissist, who takes drugs (but is not addicted) and he has a mastery over drugs and his clothing.

So what does this all mean and how does it affect me?

The case study has allowed itself to grow and develop into an argument, exploring the connections to sex and masculinity that comes from watching an episode of Sherlock. From this discussion I feel as if i need to do further academic research to be able to make my work more factual and interesting. I have also learnt that it is important to make different connections between academic readings and my own writing so that I am able to develop my skills and ideas.





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