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Brief History of Graphics

Graphics is the oldest kind of fine art. The first graphic works are cave drawings of the primitive man reflecting his view of the surrounding world. Papyrus books of ancient Egyptians contained graphic symbols (hieroglyphs) and illustrations. From ancient times we received great examples of graphics in the form of paintings on vases and ceramic vessels.

For quite a while only letters and calligraphy were associated with graphics. In the Middle Ages book graphics became widespread: handwritten books were decorated with magnificent drawings and miniatures, and creation of fonts turned into a separate art field.

Invention of the printing press in the 1440s contributed to mass production of books, and thanks to Renaissance artists drawing became a separate art form. Paper in printmaking is used as a background, and artistic tools are contour lines, strokes, as well as spots and dots. There is a lot in common between graphics and painting as gouache, pastel, watercolor are used to create both drawings and paintings.

In the 15th century easel graphic works became widespread. They are characterized by such genres of fine art as portrait, landscape, still life. There are unique graphics, when the works are created in a single copy (drawing, watercolor, gouache), and printmaking - using printed forms (an engraving) made by the artist.

The 18th century differed by a high level of graphic art. The drawing was highly valued by collectors, the engraving was characterized by a rare variety of techniques. Thanks to the industrial revolution of the first half of the 19th century such form of graphics as posters, which served to transmit information and advertise services and goods, became extremely popular. At the turn of the 19-20th centuries graphics has become a separate art form. Nature sketches and unique studies to the works of famous artists and sculptors are of great artistic value.

Development of computer technologies of the 20th century allowed modern artists to manipulate images much faster and easier. Modern graphics includes not only fonts, but also various iconic images. Graphic artists create complex three-dimensional compositions on the display screen and then print them on the printer. The 21st century is bringing new types of graphics reflecting a modern view of the visual arts.

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Outstanding Drawing-Artists and Their Famous Works

The greatest master of the West European Renaissance, Albrecht Durer, is one of the founders of the engraving. His most famous works on copper - "Knight, Death and the Devil" (1513), "St. Jerome in the cell" and "Melancholy" (1514).

The great Italian artist and scholar of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, was an inimitable draftsman. His huge graphic heritage includes: preparatory drawings for paintings, images of animals and plants, illustrations for technical designs, drawings for tracts.

The Italian architect and sculptor of the Baroque, Lorenzo Bernini, is considered one of the founders of the art of cartoons: he created a series of witty cartoons, as well as remarkable sketches of his own face.

The famous Dutch painter Rembrandt is a reformer of the art of engraving, which he considered equal to painting. The most famous of his etchings are the so-called. "A hundred-guilder Leaf " (1643-1649), "Three trees" (1643), "Three Crosses" (1653).

The Spanish artist and engraver Francisco Goya is considered one of the most original drawing artists. Most of his works are etchings. His drawing works are combined into large series (the very first and most famous is "Capricios", 1798).

Significant impact on European art was exerted by the work of the Japanese engraver Hokusai Katsushika. During his creative heyday (1820s-1830s.) he created a series of large easel engravings: "One hundred views of Fuji", "Views of remarkable bridges of various provinces", etc.

The great Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh created a large number of drawing works: sketches in pen and pencil, sketches for paintings and individual works. He used a variety of expressive means: coal, chalk, sepia, graphite pencil, white, color ink, Indian ink, gouache, watercolor.

The French artist Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec raised the genre of the advertising poster to the level of high art. Printed graphics took a very important place in his work. During the period from 1891 to 1899 he made about 350 prints and posters (the most famous being "The Japanese Sofa").

Among the 50,000 works by the greatest artist of the 20th century, the Spanish Pablo Picasso, there are 18,000 engravings, 149 albums with drawings and more than 7,000 individual drawings. The artist's business card is the poster "Dove of Peace" (1949).

In the work of the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali drawing stands apart. The leitmotif of his drawing works are absurd images of people and animals, as well as play with shapes and dimensions. He created more than 200 etchings. Illustrations for the "Divine Comedy" are recognized as the best works of the artist in the field of book graphics (1951-1964).

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Techniques and Kinds of Graphics

Drawing is the basis of all types of graphics. Typically, a graphic image is drawn on a piece of paper that functions as space. To create artworks the artist can use a whole arsenal of tools: a pencil, a ballpoint pen, charcoal, ink, Indian ink, sanguine (red-brown pencils made of kaolin and iron oxides), colored chalk, sauce (a type of pastels), watercolor, gouache.

The main instrument of European drawing in the era of late Gothic and Renaissance was a pen. At the end of the 17th century graphite pencils were used to create drawings, schemes, sketches. Canvas is hardly ever used in graphics as watercolors and gouache do not spread well on it. Color in graphic images is applied less often than in paintings. The major artistic tools in graphics are the line, the spot, the chiaroscuro, the stroke and the dot.

Graphics has the same great variety of genres as painting. But here the genre of portrait and landscape are more common, less common - still life, history, genre art and others. Graphics are traditionally classified into monumental (poster, wall graphics), easel (drawing and print), book (illustrations, postcards), as well as computer graphics, which, however, stands apart as it does not use traditional materials.

The art of graphics is characterized by a great variety of techniques that the artist uses in pure form or in various combinations. In terms of technique graphics have two types: the drawing and printed graphics (prints). The drawing is created only in a single copy. In ancient times artists used papyrus, parchment, and since the 14th century they have worked with paper.

On the contrary, printed graphics exist in many copies. For replication an engraving is used - a drawing on a hard material that is coated with paint and then printed on a piece of paper. Depending on the material we distinguish different types and techniques of engraving: woodcut (engraving on wood), linocut (a drawing, carved on linoleum), etching (engraving on metal), lithography (engraving on stone). With the advent of engraving a printed book arose and book graphics began to develop. Today, the development of graphics does not stop, new genres and techniques are emerging, but, like in ancient times, graphics remain an important component of the fine arts in our lives.

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