Art and Work

Art and Work: A Social History of Labour in the Canadian Graphic Arts Industry to the 1940s

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Art and Work
    Book Description:

    Beginning with the origins of the graphic arts industry in Britain, Angela Davis describes the development of technology, commercial organization, and professionalization of artists in Canada. She focuses on the artists involved in the creation and reproduction of a "popular" art form. The evolution of commercial illustration and the graphic arts industry, Davis asserts, had a dramatic impact not only on the popular press and advertising but also on illustrators, engravers, photo-engravers, and lithographers, who still considered themselves to be artists but found that they were now working in an industrial atmosphere similar to that of other workers.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6524-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Introduction: Social History and the Graphic Arts Industry
    (pp. 3-12)

    This study is not a traditional history of art. Rather, it is a social history of the establishment of the graphic arts as a commercial industry in Canada. It considers the work and experiences of those involved in the creation and reproduction of art, the commercial processes and technical changes that affected them, and the businesses they founded or by which they were employed. Commercial art, also known as illustration or graphic art, is that branch of the arts which is reproduced, printed, published, and circulated to a mass audience. It is all around us – in advertisements, in travel guides...

  6. 2 The English Inheritance: Artists, Engravers, and the Separation of the Arts
    (pp. 13-35)

    The history of popular illustration in Canada is directly related to the development of the commercial graphic arts industry in England. Late in the nineteenth century and in the early years of the twentieth, although American influence became strong, especially in the fields of advertising and printing technology, it was English reproductive processes and English pictorial styles that first influenced the development of commercial illustration in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere.¹ In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, etching on metal plates was the preferred medium of artists who wanted to reproduce their work. Some artists were extremely...

  7. 3 Transferring the Traditions: Visitors and Immigrants
    (pp. 36-54)

    Before the establishment of an industrial milieu that was suitable for the emergence of a popular illustrated press, many of the illustrators who worked in Canada were visitors. From the late seventeenth century to the mid-1840s, artists accompanied exploration and surveying parties, and provided a record of the Canadian scene that was published, usually abroad, in single-sheet prints or in folios or books. Even if some of these prints were published in North America, they were invariably (at least, until the late eighteenth century) printed in England or in continental Europe. As well, there were immigrant engravers and lithographers who...

  8. 4 Changing Patterns of Work: Engravers and Photo-engravers, 1870–1914
    (pp. 55-82)

    From the 1870s to the beginning of the First World War, Canadian cities underwent their formative periods of industrial and commercial growth. Starting with the major cities of eastern Canada and proceeding west in the wake of national expansion, changes took place not only as the result of the establishment of new industries and new types of business, but also as the result of new technology. The impact of these changes on the existing craft-oriented workforce was varied and uneven. In some cases, an artisan-craftsman might remain the owner of his workshop: he could invest his savings in new machinery,...

  9. 5 Changing Perceptions of Art: Artists and Commercial Artists, 1870–1914
    (pp. 83-99)

    The years that saw the adaptation of the graphic arts to the processes of industrialization were also those that witnessed the creation of a Canadian art establishment and the emergence of the concept of a Canadian national art. Until very recently, most historical studies have interpreted the art of the period prior to the First World War as the prelude to an art that could be identified as “truly” Canadian. The assumption has generally been that a national art came about through the work of the members of the Group of Seven in the 1910s and 1920s. But this interpretation,...

  10. 6 Business and Art in Western Canada: The Spread of Commercial Ideas
    (pp. 100-121)

    The development of the graphic arts industry in western Canada may have followed much the same path as in the East, but in doing so it underlined the increasing importance of the “signifying practices” in modern communities. Individual printers and engravers moved west with settlement, increased in numbers in response to the growth of newspaper publishing and, as printing became a mechanized process, suffered the loss of artisanal skills and status associated with industrialization. Artists in the West were at first recorders and reporters – amateurs working with survey parties or exploration teams. A few, such as the painter Frank Lynn,...

  11. 7 Factors for Change: Labour and Art, 1914–1940
    (pp. 122-132)

    The expansion of commercial reproductive processes into the West was a major factor in the growth of the Canadian graphic arts industry and provided a number of unique contributions to its history. But there were other developments that affected its expanding industrial structure, not least the economic depression of the 1930s and the introduction of new technology. The First World War did not seem to harm the industry to any great degree, for visual information was required for everything from recruitment to Victory Bonds to farm labour; and after the war, improvements in technology and marketing offset any adverse results...

  12. 8 Conclusion: Social History and Popular Culture
    (pp. 133-144)

    The graphic arts industry began when a number of small, artisanal, engraving and lithographing firms first established themselves in eastern Canada. Preceded by individual printers and engravers who had been unable to make a living and who had moved elsewhere, these firms succeeded because of the mechanization of printing and the creation of a popular press. The history of the industry itself can therefore be dated from the 18705, by which time industrialization had improved transportation, mechanized the printing presses, and increased newspaper and magazine production. Increased literacy, the result of changes in the education system, created a new reading...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 145-166)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 167-180)
  15. Index
    (pp. 181-187)