Reportage Research: Gin Lane by William Hogarth

72-gin-lane
William Hogarth’s propaganda on the dangers of gin drinking

In the 1750s, gin was seen to be a harmful, dangerous substance which led to moral decay, crime and ultimately death. Painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist and social critic, William Hogarth illustrated this in his print called Gin Lane, which among other things, attributed the consumption of gin with prostitution, murder, child abuse and societal collapse. This is juxtaposed by another print published at the same time called Beer Street, where all the residents are robust and full of vitality; model citizens and harbingers of the future. The reason I called Gin Lane ‘propaganda’ is that the art is clearly designed to promote a particular opinion in the viewer: gin is bad. Such an absolute statement is open to repudiation, even if it’s mostly true all the time or completely true most of the time.

72-beer-street
William Hogarth’s Beer Street

I can’t do justice to the social and political upheavals of the time in this post, but needless to say, there was a lot going on at the time, and for economic and social reasons, gin became the target of a negative advertising campaign, if you will.

Why am I looking at this? Because I was told to. Why was I told to. I don’t know. Perhaps to show us an example of how one can document an area, social group and period of upheaval all in one image or how the artist has the power with their images to skew the opinion of the viewer to suit their needs.

As we move onto our second major brief of the year, which will have a focus on reportage, things will become clearer, I’m sure.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s