A Classic Drawing Book: Everything is Political!

All Mass Media contain values, beliefs & ideologies. They convey intended and unintended messages that construct a reality based on the values & beliefs. In the process they re-enforce a set of expectations and related ideology. This can be presented in a advertisement, packaging, comic book or even a Figure drawing, as is pointed out in Jacob Russell’s Magic Names…..

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Jacob Russell's Magic Names

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You can find telling social information in places where you might not expect it–though for Andrew Loomis, who worked as a commercial artist, it shouldn’t be surprising. I downloaded a PDF of his Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth–first published in the 30’s, out of curiosity, because I remembered it from my uncle–who also was a comercial artist, and whose drawing always bore the mark of that style.
What struck me as I read the text and looked at these highly idealized figures, was how uncritically this was presented. No indication of awareness of the social and political impact–the unrealistically idealized figures, in proportion–their nordic whiteness, the not entirely implicit marginalization and exclusion of anything outside of those lines. One comparitive set of figures is partiularly telling. From the “heroic” 9 1/2 head tall figure on the right, to the 8 1/2 head ‘fashion’ figure, the “normal-ideal” 8 head figure…

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3 thoughts on “A Classic Drawing Book: Everything is Political!

  1. Fascinating. Reminds me of a comparison I once saw in a documentary about sacred geometry, that compared a modern women’s facial beauty ideal to an Egyptian statue. Problem there though is that the Egyptians used perfect symmetry and the human form does not conform to this. An obsession with certain kinds of perfected proportions (perhaps influenced by misguided notions of sacred geometry) by medieval European royalty, is believed to have been an influence in the development of the disease Anorexia.

    • Possibly, it set in motion certain European ideals. The really strong mass media influence on body image in general, and female in particular, begins with photography. The Victorian ideal curvature parallels the development of photography and cinematography soon after. Television complete the impact. Television camera, and to a lesser degree the movie camera, really does add pounds to the image. That is why women celebrities were constantly encouraged to lose weight and it was one of the reasons they were discouraged from getting pregnant.

      http://petapixel.com/2012/07/17/why-the-camera-adds-10-pounds-seeing-ourselves-in-pictures/

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