Liberator

June 27, 2021 - Comment

www.carlagirl.net/ Subjects of the Visual Arts: Bicycles Bicycles, introduced in Europe around 1863, were the first democratic means of transportation. In practical terms, bicycles eliminated the reliance on the horse and buggy. The "Golden Age" of bicycles came in the 1890s and they were particularly fashionable in cosmopolitan cities such as New York, London, and

www.carlagirl.net/
Subjects of the Visual Arts: Bicycles

Bicycles, introduced in Europe around 1863, were the first democratic means of transportation. In practical terms, bicycles eliminated the reliance on the horse and buggy.

The "Golden Age" of bicycles came in the 1890s and they were particularly fashionable in cosmopolitan cities such as New York, London, and Paris. Men smoked fewer cigars, wore cheaper suits, and forwent hats and shaves, while men and women read less and stopped regularly observing the Sabbath–all as a result of the bicycle craze.
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During this Golden Age campaigns were waged to encourage women to ride and, as a result, the bicycle became both a symbol and a means of women’s liberation.

With the new transportation came a "rational dress" movement for women, who could not reasonably be expected to ride in full skirts, wearing the average of thirty-seven pounds of clothing that was common before the advent of the cycle. As a result of the cycling craze bloomers in the 1880s at last became a viable fashion option for women, although feminists had pushed for years for their acceptance.

Another direct result of cycling’s popularity was a rise in female athletes–cycle riding had proved that exercise was not detrimental to women as was commonly believed. However, women cyclists were criticized for abandoning their femininity and becoming "mannish" or "manly women."

In the United States, an image of singer Katie Lawrence appeared in men’s clothing on the sheet music for the 1892 popular song Daisy Bell, a love song to a cycling woman about a bicycle built for two.

Bicycling was also associated with men’s sexuality. In the late nineteenth century popular press cartoons often depicted weakened men having to assume women’s household chores because women were busy being athletic, while men who lived in cities and/or led inactive lives were considered "effeminate." Cycling was advocated as a means through which they would recover their manhood.

In France, Art Nouveau advertisements for bicycles often included nude or otherwise liberated women; one ad from around 1899 for {Men's Fashion} Cycles depicted a bare-breasted helmeted Amazonian warrior alongside her wheels, while another from around 1895 for Cottereau Cycles showed a woman astride her cycle while breast-feeding.

In Staten Island, New York, lesbian photographer Alice Austen often pictured her bloomer-wearing women friends astride their bikes. In what would be some of her only commercial work, Austen made the illustrations for Violet Ward’s book Bicycling for Ladies (1896).

Many artists, including Czech Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha, created advertising posters for bicycles. Perhaps the most famous uses of bicycles in art are French artist Marcel Duchamp’s 1913 "ready made" sculpture Bicycle Wheel, made of a bicycle wheel and fork, and Pablo Picasso’s 1943 assemblage Bull’s Head, constructed with a handlebars and a bicycle seat.

Comments

mighty mint says:

I dunno about you, but I’ve got to find me some of those handlebars like ol’ Viking-Tits McGee has up there.

Paula Wirth says:

Would be a good addition to the Vintage Bikes pool…

Lindsay Beyerstein says:

Thanks very much for posting this image and the accompanying essay. Fascinating stuff. I used your "blog this" button to feature this image in a post celebrating International Women’s Day.

Mando Maniac says:

Thanks for the wonderful image and also the marvellous notes! You’ve got me off and running in yet another fascinating direction…

Chris 531 says:

Hi, I’m an admin for a group called VINTAGE CYCLING ADVERTS, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group.

wooden planes says:

Hi, I’m an admin for a group called DIG-Equality, and we’d love to have this added to the group!

purring increase says:

Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Favorite Art/Photos/Videos–No Nudes, and we’d love to have this added to the group!

bicycle_pornography says:

tis fucking rad! thanks!

it says "and automobiles" I’d guess the autos were still more of a hobby back then.

giddy badge says:

omg! where did you find this?

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