Art All Around Us: The Beauty in the Ordinary and Extraordinary.
It is hard to underestimate the role of art in the life of the society due to its cultural and psychological aspects. Even those people, who claim to live in denial of art, encounter it on a daily basis and make it a part of the personal unconsciousness. It is common knowledge that fashion has been the major transmitter of the historical facts and events throughout the history of mankind. In a broad sense, the term art may be defined as a process of comprehending the reality reflected in paintings, music, theater works, engravings, sculptures, etc. Art is an integral part of the spiritual life of each human being in particular and the society as a whole, as it is considered to be the result of diverse creative work of all preceding generations. Art provides a unique interpretation of reality, a reflection of the artist’s inner and outer world. Works of art are designed to bring aesthetic satisfaction both to the artist and the society. Fashion, is to be assessed as an art which succeeds to strongly affect the world’s cultural trends and the African American community is to be seen as a significant contributor influencing the global fashion industry.
1. Forms of Art
There are numerous forms of art, nevertheless it should be noted that it can be clearly divided into two major groups – visual and nonrepresentational art. The first form expresses the external reality, and the second one focuses on the internal one. The first group is presented through painting, drawing, sculpture and photography, graffiti and comics and the second one is manifested through literature and architecture along with music and choreography. As any other human activity, art as a notion has its own peculiar goals. Primarily it is a context appeal to the global community with the message of sharing the author’s perception of beauty often inspired by a picturesque landscape of a particular geographic area and its inhabitants.
Fig. 1. Example of a convincing 3d art drawing by Marcello Barenghi.
The major types of art trends have changed throughout its history. Nevertheless, nowadays it has obtained new forms introduced by means of visual 2D, visual 3D, physical art, intellectual art, natural art, technological art, and fashion art. Evidently, the nature of traditional visual arts has been significantly affected by the computerization patterns of the modern society. The application of computer in terms of creating new graphic images has evolved into two-dimensional (2D visual) and three-dimensional (3D visual) forms of art. The introduction of more than one dimension along with the digital technologies has qualitatively transformed the process of the production and display of pieces of art. 2d visual arts imply drawing with two-dimensional drawing using such mediums as water color, color pencil, graphite, oil pastel, etc.
Such drawings crate realistic art reflections of reality and are widely applied in terms of computer animation. 2d and 3d visual arts allow creating new art works using the vast graphic tools and materials, as well as the media resources. Physical art, in its turn, uses physical objects or human activity as objects of art including performance art. On the contrary, intellectual art is based on the notion of creating objects of art which challenge the perception of the viewer throughout its intellectualized discourse (Gach). The aforementioned intellectual discourse is emphasized by the author’s message integrated to the piece of art. Such forms of arts require a corresponding level of education in order to encode the generated communication. Natural art aims at exposing art as an essential element of nature. It analyzes nature from the perspective of its beauty and fragility revealed most often by means of photography.
Fig. 2. An outstanding examples of natural art by Aaron Sprake.
Technological art is a genre of art which focuses on the application of the latest virtual digital instruments and computer graphics patterns widely used in computer robotics and the creation of modern video games. Though fashion is the last on the list of forms of art, it occupies a special place in the classification of art due to its historical and psychological nuances. Fashion has an ability “to transform an image and make a social statement” (Nellis). It offers every single individual a powerful tool of self-expression revealed not only in cloths but in the lifestyle in general. It is to be interpreted as an applied decorative form of art whose primary focus is the creation of the concept of beauty during different historical periods.
Fig. 3. Fashion, as a form of art stimulating personal self-expression.
Fashion, is shaped by several factors, as it does not start exclusively in designer shops but also is born on the streets. It is affected by the political and social-economic nature of the living conditions. In other words, fashion as art, greatly contributes to the culture of the aesthetic tastes of the society and forms the social sense of beauty. Fashion holds a legitimate claim to status of being a form of art due to the degree of its significance for the everyday life of millions of people helping people to express themselves and stand out among other individuals.
2. History of Art and Fashion
The history of art has its roots in the primeval images which depicted the lifestyle of the primeval people. Throughout centuries the forename images evolved into ornamental painting on the walls, dishes, carpets, mats, book bindings, and on clothing. All of the above stimulated the human cognition to create sensory associations and became the base point of future art forms. Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt have revealed an overall development of all types of arts. Those were the periods of the major cultural development in terms of costume and cosmetics. The middle ages which lasted from the IX till XII centuries introduced the Roman style (from the year 1000) followed be the eerily majestic tendencies of the gothic period (XII till XVI centuries) and the asceticism of the period of Renaissance (beginning of XIV till the last quarter of XVI century) (Newall & Pooke 72). Officially, fashion-illustration was introduced over five hundred years. Long before the photo camera was invented illustrations were used as major tools for introducing the latest tendencies in fashion and demonstrating new outfits and trends to the overall society. Its prototype was created from the engravings and etchings of the XVI century depicting ladies and gentlemen, dandies and fashion-mongers. For example, at the end of the XVI century in Spain there were special books with pictures of clothes and guides for sewing. Consequently the development of art faced the “avant-garde” tendencies of the post-modernist 60’s, which included cubism, dada and surrealism (Newall & Pooke 188). The history of fashion proves that there are intensive messages behind colorful photo shoots of the latest collections of fashion designers, new products cosmetics and accessories. It started with the illustration which fulfilled the role of photography back in the XVIII century until the 30’s of XX century which introduced the component of competition with technological progress (Newall & Pooke 223).
3. African American Community in the Fashion Industry
The African-American community has played an outstandingly important role in the modern fashion industry. In accordance to the latest marketing research, the African-American representatives reveal the tendency to buy more luxury goods than any other social formation. The African-American buying capacity is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2017 (Forbes).
Fig. 4. African-American representative in high fashion – model Malaika Firth for Prada.
Notwithstanding the general outcome the forenamed community shows the peculiarity of spending twenty eight percent more on fashion items as compared to their white counterparts. Being the target audience of the luxury fashion market, the African-American community managed not only to become the leading buyers and also active participants of the fashion process. The emerging community of African-American celebrities and wealthy African professionals has been actively participating in the process of setting global fashion trends (Smith).
The names of André Leon Talley, Diana Ross, Naomi Campbell, Josephine Baker, Kanye West, Beyonce Knowles, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Oprah Winfrey, Iman, Alek Wek, Sam Fine, Tyra Banks, Allison Samuel, Kevan Hall, June Ambrose, Alexis Phifer, Deidre Jefferies, Sydne Bolden Long, Simone S. Oliver, Marc Baptiste, and Michelle Obama are the names of models, designers, photographers and fashion writers, and influential celebrities which are closely addressed as modern fashion trend setters in terms of clothing and cosmetics. The report conducted in 2013 by Nielsen revealed that almost seventy five percent of the white American population admits the contribution of the African-American community into the formation of mainstream culture notwithstanding the fact they for a significantly smaller segment of American population (Forbes). Evidently, African American community has strongly influenced the fashion and cosmetics industries being the major role models for young adolescents who attempt to imitate their fashion and make-up habits.
4. The Opposition of the Traditional and Urban Fashion
The latest fashion trends have reveals the presence of the opposition of the traditional and urban fashion brands. The classical and traditional fashion names are known to belong to the luxury fashion segment and imply such designer houses as Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Christian Dior, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Donna Karan, Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, etc (Tungate 189). The aforementioned traditional fashion designers and retailers are facing the competition coming from urban fashions. Urban fashion is under systematic growth owing to the functioning of such urban brands as Urban Outfitters, Adidas Originals, New Look, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, H&M, Lacoste, Pull and Bear, Bershka, etc (Tungate 40). The classical fashion brand names are not accessible for a vast portion of the American population. They remain to be the prerogative of wealthy people in general and African-American community in particular. It goes without saying that the overall attractiveness of the urban fashion is in direct correlation with low price and good quality of clothing it provides. Urban clothing allows young people to express themselves and feel fashionable on a daily basis.
Urban fashion emphasizes the notion of affordability, practicality and beauty while traditional fashion highlights the high value of exclusive high value clothing and accessories. The forenamed opposition of the traditional and urban fashion is conditional as both have their loyal consumers. Basically, they occupy two separate niches within the industry with the potential shifts occurring from changes in the consumer’s age and income.
Generally speaking, the surrounding world provides fashion pattern on the daily basis as it affects the make-up, the style, the clothing, the shoes and accessories preferred by people during a certain period of time. Such preferences strongly depend on the socio-economic characteristics and ethnic belonging. Fashion, can indeed be considered an art, as it provides ordinary people and celebrities with the opportunity to express their inner beauty and thoughts. It may be interpreted as a part of the self-actualization process. Modern fashion industry reveals two major directions – the trend of luxurious classic values (high fashion) and the trends reflecting modern metropolis’ life.
Both of them stand for a strong position in mass culture and provide individuals with their every-day art patterns. Art indeed is around us in a sense that it assists people in reaching their dreams throughout sharing their inner beauty with the external world.