The history of aerography


The history of Airbrush takes its origin from ancient times. The painting technique on the ancient drawings reminds the way of conveying the picture with the help of an “air brush”. If to consider the art of aerography in general, it was conceived in the era of palaeolith more than 10000 years ago. There were ancient drawings found on the territory of the Iberian Peninsula. These paintings are made with the help of two techniques, one of which can be defined as the airbrush art. The first (positive) technique involves bringing the pain on a palm and making a print whereas the second technique ( a negative one) involves spraying the shape of a hand with the paint. The hand serves as a pattern in this case. Our ancestors used a hollow bone or a stem of a plant as a tube. They filled it with the paint and blew. That was the appearance of the first paint spray gun, the prototype of the modern air brush.

Hand paintings on the cave walls.

According to one of the versions the history of a modern airbrush art starts with the works of the aqarelist (water-color painter) Frank Stanley, who created the first airbrush paintings in 1876.

The invention of an American jeweller Ebner Piller is traditionally referred to as the start of a modern airbrush .With the help of his device known as “paint distributor” he managed to use the airbrush technique to make few dozens of painting back to 1878.  One year later his paintings revealed a special interest in a new form of art. He created and patented the first aerograph with the help of a needle from the sewing machine, a bent screw-driver, a spoon, and old soldering tubes. He attached all this by a few wooden whetstones. That was the appearance of the apparatus known as an aerograph today. The work of plenty of modern aerographs is based on the principle of the “air brush” of Piller.

There is another version of the origin .of the airbrush and aerograph. In the year 1893 a similar machine was simultaneously invented by the aquarellist Charles Berdick from Great Britain. But aerographs were not so popular with artists at that time. Airbrush art was not estimated as a form of art since the paintings were created in a mechanical way. The inner vision and the craftsmanship of an artist were not taken into account. The attempt of an American artist Man Ray to apply new methods in art was not acclaimed by the public as well. In 1918 he organized the exhibition“.The first sprayed object”in Paris . The exhibition was a flop. The critics of the artistic art of Man Ray accused him of fraud having named him a “a criminal who devaluates art through the use of a mechanical machine”. These events were followed by the prolonged pause in the use of aerograph.

The art of airbrush continued with its wide spread in the 20-60s. There appeared plenty of new paints and painting compositions that contributed to a quicker evolution. Airbrush art was now applied to create canvases and the retouching of photographs. A bit later this art was applied in modelling and taxidermy, in textile and design industries, in body art as well as in souvenir and toy-painting. The artistic painting of cars, motorbikes, devices and other technical equipment becomes a separate stream of airbrush art. The 20th century was marked by the quick development of the art of airbrush. The art of “an air brush” conquers more and more spheres. Aerographs started to be applied in advertising bills, posters, announcements, magazine illustrations and also backgrounds for animation films (the studio of Walt Disney). World War I caused quite a considerable break in the history of aerography. But this didn’t cease the evolution of aerography. After the end of the World War I a high school of artistic art and designing Bauhaus. The technology of airbrushing was acclaimed in artistic art. Its popularity can be accounted for the possibility to create a painting with a photographic precision thanks to an air brush. At the same time in the US there appeared cars with paintings on the panels. In other cases the paintings or inscriptions contained useful information, such as, for instance, the number plates on the bodies of racing cars. Aerography as art was getting more sophisticated replacing usual sketches with the paintings of high quality. “The air brush” became certain tool for creativity in the times of “the flower children” making fantastic and surrealistic pictures for a music industry. As a result, the way of the airbrush art from the first machine to the time of unanimous recognition as a form of art turned out to be a long and a difficult one. Still, aerography has become the artistic technique appreciated by absolutely all specialists of a modern art. Certainly, the illustration made by the aerograph didn’t gain the popularity enjoyed by the great canvases of the past. Still, it required ultimate professionalism, a special kind of talent without concentrating on the technical side only.

The 1970s become the starting point for the modern post-surrealism to begin. The aerography performed by the artists of the 70s became a dual stream which merged together with photorealism. The time came for the airbrush art to take its sound position in the world artistic art. In Europa aerography appears only in the 1980s whereas in Russia it emerged as a form of art only in the 1990s. This technique was initially imitated by the stickers with eagles, snakes or any swift animals depicted. It wasn’t long after that when the first skilled craftsmen started depicting dragons, eagles, and fantastic creatures with the help of a paint spray gun and a stencil. Unfortunately, the color balance in the paintings made by an aerograph wasn’t reached immediately. Soon after that the masters of the airbrush art started paying great attention to the surface where the painting should be applied. High art has always been characterized by creating the single harmonious image. This becomes possible provided that the form, the curves of the surface and the lines have been taken into account. A gifted master will help to turn any object into a form of art including mobile phones, a snowboard, a helmet, a motorbike, and even a plane. The master manages to combine harmoniously the very idea of individuality with the design and the shape of a car. The first school of aerography in Russia was open in 2000.


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