Today in History: Ludwig Hohlwein born in 1874

Today in History: Ludwig Hohlwein born in 1874
The famous German poster artist was born 143 years ago today. Hohlwein was a trained and practicing architect. He moved to Munich in 1906 where he started to focus his talents on poster design. A self-taught graphic artist and influenced by the work of the Beggarstaff Brothers, Hohlwein showed an extraordinary talent for decorative compositions and color combinations. Breaking with Art Nouveau, he quickly became one of the leaders of the German “Plakatstil,” departing from ornaments or embellishments and simplifying the artwork through the use of form, flat colors and bold shapes.

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Happy Birthday, Mick Jagger !

Happy Birthday, Mick Jagger !
The English music icon and Rolling Stones front man is celebrating his 74th birthday today.

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Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

157 years ago today, the talented Czech Art Nouveau poster artist, illustrator and designer was born. Mucha initially worked as a theatrical scene painter in Vienna before a benefactor discovered his talents and financed his art studies in Munich and Paris. Mucha stayed in Paris where he designed his first posters. His breakthrough came in 1894 when he created the famous Gismonda poster starring Sarah Bernhardt. The actress was so impressed with Mucha’s work that she offered him a 6-year contract which paved the road for the artist’s subsequent success. Over the next 15 years, Mucha became the model Art Nouveau artist, creating posters, advertisements, calendars, postcards, and magazine and book illustrations. His work typically featured beautiful women surrounded by elaborate flowers. Mucha returned to live in Czechoslovakia around 1910 where he produced his masterpiece, a set of 20 mural paintings, the Slav Epic, depicting the history of his nation. He died in 1939, several months after being arrested and interrogated by the Nazis, following Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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Today in History: The Man on the Moon

Today in History: The Man on the Moon

48 years ago today, 240,000 miles (380,000 km) away from Earth, at precisely 10:56 pm (EDT), during one of the most widely-viewed live broadcasts in television history, American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, became the first human to walk on the moon and spoke to more than a billion people on Earth: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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Today in History: László Moholy-Nagy born in 1895

Today in History: László Moholy-Nagy born in 1895

122 years ago today, the Hungarian painter, photographer, and influential educator, László Moholy-Nagy, was born. In 1923, Walter Gropius invited Moholy-Nagy to teach at the Bauhaus in Weimar where he was soon placed in charge of the school’s preliminary course. In 1937, he moved to Chicago and was appointed Director of the New Bauhaus, Chicago, but the school went bankrupt after only one year. Against all odds, Moholy-Nagy re-opened the school as the School of Design in 1939 (renamed the Institute of Design in 1944). In late 1945, Moholy-Nagy became very ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. He died the following year. Today, Chicago’s Institute of Design continues to be the source of the most influential design curriculum in the United States.

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Today in History: “Degenerate Art” exhibitions opens in 1937

Today in History: “Degenerate Art” exhibitions opens in 1937

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the opening oif the infamous Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibition in Munich, Germany. Organized by Adolf Ziegler and the Nazi Party, the exhibition presented some 650 paintings, sculptures and prints by over 100 (primarily) German artists, incl.  works by famous artists such as Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde and Kurt Schwitters. The “degenerate” works were defined as art that was insulting to any artistic skill and feeling. Even the presentation of the artworks by the Nazi regilme was intentionally chaotic: the chosen venue was dark, rooms were very narrow. Paintings were displayed without frames; many were accompanied (or partially covered) by derogatory slogans. The “unhealthy” modern art presented an image of chaos that stood in stark contrast to the Nazi ideal of male heroism or the glorification of the womanhood. Over one million people attended the exhibition in the first six weeks alone. The display lasted until November 30, 1937.

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Today in History: Lithography was invented in 1798

Today in History: Lithography was invented in 1798

219 years ago today, German author Alois Senefelder invented the lithographic printing method (from the Greek, “stone printing”). Looking for an inexpensive method for copying his manuscripts, Senefelder was experimenting with etching techniques using acid resisting inks on a flat stone surface. He soon discovered that his method allowed printing from the flat surface of the stone alone. Compared to conventional copper engraving, it enabled a much faster way of working. Lithography made printing much more affordable and available to more people (f.ex. in art and newspaper printing). By 1830, Senefelder’s process had become the dominant method of pictorial reproduction in the printing industry.

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