Images in high resolution, in the most dazzling colors and the widest variety of variations: today, anyone who opens a magazine or digital magazine is used to the sight. But what we take for granted today has only been part of our media reality for a few decades.
Before photography opened up completely new possibilities for the media, journalists used press illustrations. This genre formed along with modern journalism in Europe during the 16th and 17th century religious wars and the Enlightenment period.
However, press graphics only became decisive at the end of the 1810s. Their epoch lasted about a century – until the end of the First World War, when illustration was pushed out of newspapers by more sophisticated photomechanical reproduction processes. The graphic reporters were special artists or short specials called. Her special tasks not only included graphic reporting on site, but also journalistic research. Some of these early photo journalists became media stars who knew how to stage themselves adventurously.
Another novelty in modern press graphics was the photo journalism of the fledgling tabloid press. In their illustrated sensational reports, the fantastic motifs of surrealism were already heralded from the 1880s.
History and testimony in one
A new illustrated book is now celebrating the golden age of press illustration. “History of Press Graphics.1819-1921” presents the most important developments in this genre in individual chapters. The author Alexander Roob guides you through the period in three languages – German, English and French. Not only the history of the press illustration is illustrated. The reader is also offered unique testimonies of historical events that lead him to the battlefields of the First World War and to the criminal underworlds of Paris.
The handbook places a special focus on Vincent Van Gogh’s intensive examination of the illustrated press of his time.
To the author
Alexander Roob taught graphics and painting at the Hamburg Art Academy and the Stuttgart Art Academy. In 2005 he co-founded the Melton Prior Institute, dedicated to the history of reportage drawing and print culture.
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