Problems with cataloguing Illustration

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The first lecture in CTS was about categorising Illustration and what problems may occur with doing that. We explored different ways of putting Illustration on a timeline with examples of the books “Illustration – A Visual History” and “50 Years of Illustration”. The former showed the different styles and forms which are supposed to be in a time line and the latter just divided Illustration into decades. We discussed several advantages and disadvantages the books have.

In the first book, “Illustration – A Visual History”, some styles made it into the book which seem not as important as others which were not listed e.g. Dada. The book jumps in time and sometimes it seems like a style just disappeared after time even though it influenced everything else after or did not stop to be present.

“50 Years of Illustration” has a lot of examples and less text than the first book. Though the problem here is that the content is divided into decades and many art styles overlap and do not restrain into the timeframe. An advantage to this system is that it makes it easier to look up a style if you know the time it was/is present.

It is difficult to find the right balance between text and photographs to explain a style. It is almost impossible to show enough pictures that will define one style or era because there are so many artists who all have different influences in their work. Therefore you cannot explain one style with just one artwork.

In conclusion I can say that it is not an easy task to organise a book about Illustration. Of course the makers of a book are biased, like everyone is due to origin/culture/education…., and take in whichever styles they think are important. Even though we can criticise those books, they are still good examples of Illustration and help one to understand Illustration and to orientate oneself.


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