5/4/11

Crucible Steel - Majestically mod.

Here's one thing I miss about the fifties. Also, it's a thing I miss about the sixties. Not that I lived through much of either, but I mean it would be nice to live in a time where art like this can still be found in - would you just shut up and let me get to the point?
Crucible Steel. We need steel, etc., etc. Yeah great. Nice illustration! This kind of drawing doesn't enjoy a name that falls easily to hand. Cubism? Sort of. Abstract Kookiness? No. Mod? Meh.

Something without a handy name becomes hard to research, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this kind of "midcentury modern" visual style grew out of the  cubism movement, which began in the early 1900's and had it's peak in the 1940s and 50s.
Cubism was the newest crazy thing anyone had ever seen, in 1912. Loads of people still can't stand it today. It's "too weird". There were a bunch of artists who got in on the ground floor, but the rock star of cubism was... say it with me... Pablo Picasso.

By the fifties, cubism was more widely accepted. After World War II, everyone wanted to forget the past and plan the new exciting future, free of Nazis and war (hah!). The postwar optimism led to the embrace of simple and geometric designs in furniture, art, and pretty much everything. If one wanted to dig through the psychological implications of it, you may speculate that the simplicity of "midecentury modern" expresses a desire to reclaim innocence and put aside the "ickyness" of WWII. One may also speculate all day and forget to eat lunch. Inference of this sort is fun because you can sound smart and nobody can prove you wrong. But, you can be proven a wanker.

The archetypal animation house of this style was UPA. Art dorks will know that name, but you other people I'll just call "normals" probably won't. UPA animated Mister Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing. Their work is beloved not so much for it's hilarity, but for the super cool look. You can spot it a mile away. Flat color. Clean lines. Simplicty with style and sophistication.
Gerald McBoing Boing can be a little hard to find, but if you have a copy of Hellboy on DVD, check the extras on the disk. You may have a couple GMcBB (as we used to call him [not really]) cartoons already.
So you may get the impression that all this kind of art is a thing of the past? Well, your impression is an idiot. Artists are still in love with the Mid Mod style. Don't believe me? The Increibles: BLAM! That'll learn ya.

There's also a guy Named Josh Agle who has built himself a crazy little empire doing paintings under the name of Shag. His stuff is colorful, wacky, and makes piles of cash off of the nostalgia of a fictionalized era when girls in cat glasses and capri pants danced with wolfmen at tiki parties. I wish I'd done that. (The empire thing, not danced in capri pants thing.)
So, in 1952, you could flip through a magazine and find an ad that looks all mod and kooky like this one for Crucible Steel. Now, the ad would show a loving father taking the affordable, strong training wheels off of his son's affordable, strong bicycle for the first time. What a load of BS.

8 comments:

Craig said...

I have two Shag prints.

The Blue Scooter: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2613/3850354162_e5d1b8f80f.jpg

The Four Drummers of the Apocalypse: http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc269/erinalexa00/Shag%20Art/4drummers.jpg

We bought them both back in 1998 or so. They're the coolest.

Craig said...

We've also got this Tim Biskup print "Bird Filled Sky" which is really cool:

http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/images/birdfilledsky.jpg

My friend Glenn Reid put these awesome prints together. I've got half a dozen of them hanging on the walls: http://www.reidstudio.com/ (click the link for "Prints")

Phil Are Go! said...

You're right. Those deco-ey prints are bleeding great. Trying to think of where I could hang one. the trouble with prints is that framing them costs a frikkin fortune. I have these two prints in my living room (talk about cubism) and framing them cost about 6x what the prints themselves cost.

http://shopca.eboy.com/products/cologne-poster
http://shopca.eboy.com/products/berlin-poster

I gotta find an inside connection in the framing world. Pity the Framing Mafia was busted in the seventies, and the industry is no longer corrupt.

Craig said...

Oh, those are cool.

Yeah, you're right. I had that Tim Biskup print framed for my wife for christmas and it was like $300.

Because it's hard to cut a 45 degree angle in some cove molding.

Phil Jr. said...

Google 'googie'.

No doubt you are familiar with it. I just wanted to say 'Google googie'

Phil Are Go! said...

Holy shitballs! How has "Googie" escaped my attention? The Factual Research Squad has some 'splaining to do! Thanks, Other Phil! I love the Googie!

Phil Jr. said...

You did not know 'googie'? Did I introduce you to something which had flown under your radar!?! Could this be the event which catapults me into the ranks of Phil-Are-Go celebs such as Sue or Craig?? Out of my way! I got here late!!

Phil Are Go! said...

Nope, I did not know the googie. The idea of P.A.G. celebrities is kind of funny. A red carpet with three people walking by. The band has to stop playing after two bars.

Thanks, Other Phil!

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