‘Slave to the Rhythm’ and ‘Humanly Impossible’ Visual Analysis and Comparison

Jean Paul Gaude, Slave to the Rhytm 1985​

‘Slave to the Rhythm’ Formal Qualities
Visual Rhythm, repetition of the hair and mouth segments it suggests movement ​
Balance, weight and tension between the repeated segments of the elongated mouth like a continuous scream and the hair shape​
Colour contrast, white background contrast with the black skin of Jones enhancing her exotic features​
White background contrast with black typography​
Balance, placement of the tapes juxtaposing the face​
Shape, the isosceles triangle shape is over grace’s left jaw, one tone darker than her skin, it balance the elongation of the mouth​

The image is bold and aggressive, The title of the album correlates with its composition and the rhythm that it transmits through repetition​
During the 70’s and 80’s a new era of technology was available. The fashion world was in awakening, new trends in colours and different genres where at hand with music and art. In 1970’s the home video systems was born and 1981 MTV was on screen. New ways of expression and boldness was shaping the identity of future generations.

Jean-Paul Goude 2009​

Born in December 8 of 1940, France​
Postmodern art director, photographer and designer.​
His work shaped the visual landscape in the 70’s and 80’s after his collaborative work with Grace Jones​
Goude’s vision is bolder and for him reality can be transformed in a simpler shape.​
He gave Jones a new identity transforming her into a symbol of style and fashion​

‘French Correction’ Technique Goude uses elements of distortion and collage to model images with the intention to find that physical perfection and balance. ​
“I take the truth and blow it up”​

Carolina Beaumont, New York, 1976 Kim Kardashian, New York, 2014​

I think it is genius the way Goude created this new identity for Grace Jones and how he used Jones’ particular characteristics to make out of her a legend. It shows a change in mentality and the extravaganza of the ordinary but at the same time adds a touch of humour and silliness to his work.​

Herbert, Bayer, Humanly Impossible 1932-37​

Humanly Impossible​
“Menschen unmöglich (Selbst-Porträt)”​

Self-portrait created by Herbert Bayer in 1932 (negative date) and 1932-37 (print date) Berlin.​
Part of a series of eleven photomontages titled “Man and Dream”(Mensch und Trawm)​
Medium is gelatin silver print with image dimensions: 15 5/16 × 11 9/16″ (38.9 × 29.3 cm) and sheet 20 1/16 × 14″ (51 × 35.5 cm)​
Thomas Walter Collection​

Formal Qualities
Tension between the subject and his reflection: His face shows terror looking to the missing part of his arm​
Balance His reflection (left side) and part of his profile (right corner).​
Space The effect created by his arm where part of it is sliced off in cross section out of his torso showing the missing piece​
Volume His left hand is holding the missing part of the arm (reflection) as a 3D object​
Texture on the right corner of the image Bayers hand is holding the piece of arm, it looks porous resembling the texture of the missing piece of the reflection.​

The expression of terror on Bayer’s face confirms the surreal vision in the mirror. The amputee arm and sculpture pose is the artist’s stand against the Nazi’s Arian classic art conception of the moment and the fascist mass culture propaganda pre WWll.​
“Humanly Impossible” is perhaps the attempt of the artist to engage the viewer through the distortion of reality at a psychological level, creating an ambiguity between what is visible and physically possible through the use of photomontage.​

Born in Haag Austria, April 5 1900 (-1985)​
Enrolled in the 20’s in the Bauhaus school he was one of the most influential artists of this movement​
Inspired by Kandinsky, it was reflected on his different art disciplines; he produced graphic works, furniture and architecture designs along with photography.​
He used photomontage as a technique in advertising and personal projects​
His experimental photographic practices helped him to find in this technique a new concept of surrealism combined with Bauhaus aesthetics. ​

To make “Humanly Impossible” Bayer took his picture in a mirror. He exposed his self portrait negative to a sheet of photographic paper. Then, he mounted the resulting print on a board where he worked the image. ​
To work on the chopped arm and missing piece, he painted gouache. Next step, the maquette was photographed and printed to scale, then photographed again. Every following print was made from the third negative.​

Herbert Bayer, Lonely Metropolitan, 1932

I am amazed by Herbert’s work and the time it was made. No electronic media existed at the time. Only photography, ingenuity and manual skills were use to created such mesmerising effects. It it shows the brilliant artistic mind behind a creation and how technical limitations where adapted to get the results.​

‘Slave to the Rhythm’ vs ‘Humanly Impossible’​

Both are photomontage​
The artwork has effects applied to specific parts of the human body​
Same colour in composition (black and white)​
Both have a main subject ( Grace, Harbert)​
Unorthodox designs in two different times of history.​
Both compositions are ambiguous( open to a different interpretations)​

Goude is Postmodern and Herbertt is Bauhaus​
Space one has a two dimensional composition, where the other is three dimensional​
‘Slave to the Rhythm’ was created for Grace Jones’ new identity. Humanly impossible is a self portrait of the artist ​
Goude’s design was made for publicity. Herbert’s artwork was a medium of criticism to the political state of the moment ​
Effects techniques are showed in Goude’s artwork. Herbert effects are covered by the technique process.​
Goude’s effects highlights clue characteristics of the subject to enhance her. Herbert uses surrealism to shock the viewer.

Finding myself as an artist​

I have chosen these artworks because I was attracted by its visual composition and photo manipulation.​
I think that in someway having modern technology available to us like Photoshop or diverse softwares is limiting our own ingenuity and possibility to create and innovate. But on the other hand, new frontiers are opened with technology: Virtual reality, animation, etcetera.​
Finding myself as an artist in this era is challenging, but I think the most important part is to have fun and love what I do. Exposing myself to different techniques and surrounds will help to find my own creative inspiration and expression.​


Jean-Paul Goude – Home. Accessed September 9, 2018. https://www.jeanpaulgoude.com/images/presse/2016_Fashionmusic.pdf.​

Lyn. “Influential Music Videos of the 1970’s and 1980’s.” Spinditty. Last modified February 20, 2017. https://spinditty.com/industry/Influential-Music-Videos-of-the-1970s-and-1980s.​

Patrick Mauriès. “Jean-Paul Goude – About.” Jean-Paul Goude – Home. Accessed September 9, 2018. http://www.jeanpaulgoude.com/en/about.​
Abbaspour, Mitra. “Herbert Bayer | MoMA.” MoMA. Last modified 2014. https://www.moma.org/artists/399.​

“Behance.” Behance. Accessed September 23, 2018. https://www.behance.net/gallery/4655755/Essay-on-the-work-and-life-of-Herbert-Bayer.​

“The Visionary Photomontages of Herbert Bayer, 1929-1936.” Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Accessed September 23, 2018. https://www.sbma.net/exhibitions/bayer.​


Leave a Reply


This blog is part of the NMIT Blog Network. The articles and comments in this blog are the opinion of the authors and not necessarily those of NMIT.