Impact of Art on Fashion
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Published: Tue, 31 Jul 2018
Fashion and art are two disciplines that revolve around the same sphere, which is creativity. The two worlds share a bridge that links the two together. Art in its own aspect has followed humanity through its times and the world of fashion has also been synonymous to it. The two mediums share a close relationship.
Fashion has its deep roots set in self expressionism, a means to show the world our personality by way of body adornment and clothing. Art as well tends to articulate the thoughts of the artist across to the spectator, by the colours that have been used to the mood that the artwork brings about. These elements could say a lot about the artist and his personality, just as much as a dark makeup and ripped jeans could say in context to self expressionism in fashion.
The dissertation is a study on the influence on art on fashion and how fashion impacts art. It generates from the Period of Rococo, all the way into the modern world, and showcases the significance of art and fashion in the development and harmonious existence of the two subjects.
Research is defined by Saunders as: ‘the systematic collection and interpretation of information with a clear purpose, to find things out.’ (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2003). It is with this theory in mind that I approach my study.
In order to tackle the objective I have of how art influences fashion, I will use both Primary and secondary data.
Primary Data – Is the data which is collected by the researcher himself, by means of observations, interviews and surveys. It is data which has not been published.
I will formulate the primary data by way of interviews conducted with artists and fashion designers as well as current fashion design students.
Secondary Data – Is data that has already been published and already exists in literary sources. They can be in the form of Books, Journals, Public Records, documentaries etc.
Secondary data will be gathered by means of books written on fashion and art and design. News paper archives, scholarly journals and magazines will also be sourced. Web pages and blogs discussing art and fashion will also be consulted.
Art and its influence on fashion, has a very broad spectrum. Art in its own aspect can vary from fine arts to performing arts, from paintings and sculptures to Broadway musicals. When you consider fashion it can deal with an innumerable amount of things, varying from clothing to footwear and jewellery to beauty, hair and makeup. In order to make this study more feasible I limited my scope to Paintings and Women’s clothing. I will survey the most relevant and significant literature in relation to my topic.
When conducting my literature review I considered literary sources pertaining to the fundamentals of art and fashion. I looked into the history of the two subjects by way of published books and museum explorations. I also looked into books published on how art influences fashion and fashions impact on art. My literary investigation also explores the online world. I used search engines with terms such as ‘Art and fashion’ and art movements for instance ‘Op-Art’ and ‘Art deco’ to generate articles written on the subjects. I went through online archives of news papers and online journals to find any articles written on either fashion or art.
Fashion depicted in Paintings
The links between art and fashion go back at least to the Renaissance (Boucher, 1988, p. 191). Italian artists during the renaissance period were highly influenced by fashion.
Artists of the stature of Jacopo Bellini, Antonio del Pollaiuolo and above all Antonio Pisanello, were not only depicting fashions in their paintings, but also creating costume models and designing textile patterns and embroidery. (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005, p. 5)
The 16th Century brought about a new era in world of fashion and art, Alice Macrell states in her book that:
The 16th century was the great age of travel and exploration, with a quest for knowledge that included the costume and customs of other nations. This had tremendous results for fashion, as the first printed costume books appeared in the second half of the century, heralding a new visual source (Mackrell, 1997, pp. 14-17)
Fashion and art continued in unity from the 16th century to the 17th Century.
The interaction of art and fashion continued apace in the 17th century. In France the artists more closely associated with fashion engraving during the reign o King Louis XIII (1610-43) were Jacques Callot, Jean de Saint-Igny and Abraham Bosse. Callots most illuminating, illustrations of fashion were his twelve etchings in the series La Noblesse de Lorraine (1624) in which he observed most perceptively the fashionable dress of dames and seigneurs of his native region. (Gaudriault, 1988, p. 8 and 29)
Artists in Europe during the 17th century were finding inspiration in clothing. The Flemish Baroque artist known as Rubens was producing costume studies for his subject paintings and portraits. He then compiled a vast compilation of drawings known as the Costume Book.
Anthony van Dyke was Rubens assistant. He was the son of a cloth and silk merchant and was known for his ‘sumptuous costume’ Van Dyke must have acutely been aware o the power of dress. (Gordenker, 2001, p. 3)
The bohemian artist Wenceslaus Hollar worked in England as an Etcher, engraver and illustrator. He engaged in costume studies specializing in women’s Fashions. His best known series of women’s costumes is the four seasons. The British Museum which holds one of the four etchings of the Seasons says; Hollar’s virtuosity as an etcher is apparent from the variety of fabric and furs, he captures in the woman’s garments. (Winter an Etching, www.britishmuseum.org). Figures 1 & 2 below show the full length etching of summer and winter sketched by Wenceslaus Hollar.
Alice Mackrell in her book Art and Fashion (2005) gives her view on Paintings held at Museums. Figure 3 below shows the Painting of Madame de Pompadour by Françoise-Hubert Drouais.
Descending the long staircase in the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery, London, into the lower galleries that housed the exhibition Madame de Pompadour: Images of a Mistress, ones attention showed straight ahead her ravishing portrait painted by Françoise-Hubert Drouais [Refer Figure 3 for the painting]
Madame de Pompadour seated in her boudoir at her tambour frame, engaged in embroidery work yet surrounded by her books and a portfolio of engravings reminding the viewer of her intellectual and artistic achievements, wears a gown of naturalistic light green leaves and salmon pink flowers, trimmed at the elbows with three rows of large four striking bows of matching striped silk at her elbows with three rows of large engagéantes (cuffs with two or three ruffles) made of fine French needle lace. This garment epitomizes the Rococo taste – serpentine curves, three-dimensional ornamentation and clear, delicate colours.
(Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005)
Françoise-Hubert Drouais, Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame
The colours on her dress characterize the Rococo taste
Another one of the great artists who represented women’s fashions in his paintings is Thomas Gainsborough, Mackrell yet again states:
The English artist whose work most conjures up fashionable ladies in their silks and gauzes – indeed whose portraiture not only captured a living likeness, but also epitomized the English elegance of Rococo fashion, is Thomas Gainsborough. He was very much aware of Rococo art and fashion. (ibid, p.8).
The Rococo movement was followed by the Neo-Classical movement. Neo-Classicism was all that the Rococo period was not about. Artist Joseph Marie Vien belonged to this era.
Contemporaries looked to Vien to Inspire women to abandon their Rococo capriciousness for classical simplicity. Neo – classicism became the dominant movement in the fine and decorative arts, architecture and fashion in Europe from the late 18th century, as knowledge grew ever more widespread about the archaeological discoveries extending from southern Italy to Egypt and the Near East. (ibid. pp. 33 and 35)
The literary movement of Romanticism followed Neo-Classicism.
Romanticism was the cult of personality. The celebration of individual character and social status took on a fresh aspect in the form of a new kind of fashionable society portraiture. The Romantic sense of mission had a powerful influence on artists in exploring the self.
(Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005, p. 46)
Romanticism was a new movement, but it did not completely break away from the trends that were evident during the Neo-Classical era.
Romantics frequently sought to make classicism a living experience rather than a dead ideal, and aspects of Neo-classicism a living experience rather than a dead ideal, and aspects of Neo-classicism…have been seen as a hybrid version of Romantic classicism.
(Baudelaire, 1992, p. 53)
Aestheticism then followed the Period of Romanticism. An artist during this period of time who incorporated fashion in his art was an American painter by the name of James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The book Art and Fashion (2005) asserts:
‘Whistler was someone who assimilated the fashions of his time as an integral component of his art, such as the craze for everything Japanese that was sweeping Paris and London’…’He appreciated beauty and styling women, and concentrated on them in his portraiture, painting images of beauty that could be appreciated on their aesthetic merit alone.’ (Mackrell, 2005, pp. 84 and 85)
The beauty of aestheticism was followed by Realism. Artists tried to depict a sense of reality through their paintings. Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French critic during this period. He identified the concepts of realism as:
‘Romantic individualism, with an art that reflected its own epoch’ and, ‘in its demands or a modern style Realism continued the aims of the Romantics’ (Rubin, 1980, p. 49)
Édouard Manet, was a friend of Baudelaire and a painter. For Manet ‘dress represented the outward aspect of modern life, that transient envelope that both veils and reveals its unchanging essence.’ (Mauner, 2000). According to The French taste for Spanish painting: ‘Manet admired and sought to emulate, in order to better depict the realities of life, including fashion. (Tinterow & Lacambre, 2003, p. 51)
Impressionism was then followed after Realism, ‘Following the lead of Manet, they shared a commitment of vision, in which their depiction of dress was a salient sign of their determination to be modern.’ (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005) Impressionists linked contemporary life with fashion in their works of art. According to R L Herbert: ‘Fashion and art shared certain features…and for the Impressionists there was an underlying association of contemporary life with fashion.’ (Herbert, 1988, p. 198)
At the end of the 19th Century, ‘new’ appeared to be the high thrill word.
Articles in newspapers and magazines referred to the ‘new woman’, the ‘new fiction’ the ‘new journalism’ and the ‘new art’, the key date for the ‘new art’ was 1884, this was founded in Belgium and the term ‘Art Nouveau’ was coined by supporters of this avant-garde group. (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005)
According to the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘Art Nouveau was the first concerted attempt to create a modern international style based on decoration.’ (Greenhalg, 2000)
On the chapter of Art Nouveau and Art Deco Mackrell affirms the meaning of Art Nouveau:
Art Nouveau was an essentially urban creation of sophisticated artists and designers, and reflected a diversity of trends. The natural world was the single most important source. Nature was widely used to achieve a modern look, so much so, that in Art Nouveau circles, nature and modernity cam to mean almost the same thing. (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005, p. 112)
Paul Poiret was a couturier who emerged during the early years of the 20th century, Poiret ‘marked the beginning of a new era, not only in fashion but in illustration too, heralding the birth of the style which is known today as Art Deco’. (Robinson, 1976, p. 38) Poiret was also known for his knack of linking the fashion world with art. ‘Having an affinity with painters he [Poiret] was the first couturier to relate fashion successfully to the arts.’ (ibid. p. 116)
Sonia Delaunay was a painter designer and printmaker during the 1920’s. She was an advocate of Orphism. ‘Sonia Delaunay made a significant impact on how art and fashion could overlap and influence each other.’ (ibid. p. 130)
The early 1920’s brought about the Surrealist movement. ‘The term surrealism was coined in 1917 by the French prose writer, poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire. Surrealists gave positive expression to their views. They reacted with a review of values at every level of society, inspired by psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud. (ibid. p. 135) Surrealism touched fashion in a way that no previous art movements had. ‘Fashion and its instruments were at the heart of the Surrealist metaphor, touching on the imagery of woman and the correlation between the world of real objects and the life of objects in mind.’ (Martin, 1990)
Two Fashion designers who were greatly influenced by surrealism arts was Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel. ‘They found a new and exciting canvas on which to articulate their ideas, by translating Surrealist art into clothing. Surrealism was the leading and most controversial movement in literature and the arts between the two World Wars. (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005, p. 135)
Salvador Dali was known as the father of Surrealism. He and Elsa Schiaparelli forged together to make a new avenue in fashion. ‘Dali and Schiaparelli also collaborated on two of the most iconic dresses of the 1930’s, the ‘organza dress with painted lobster was one of them’ (ibid. p.144) Figure 4 & 5.
The literature review I conducted shows that there is an existance between fashion and art. It concludes that artists and painters alike have been influenced by the fashion world. Fashion designers have also been inspired by the works of artists and their paintings.
The literature review is only subjected to paintings and womens wear clothing. It does not explore other works of art like sculptures. When it comes to the world of fashion, the review only deals with aspects of clothing and has not explored the influece that art might have on different articles of fashion, such as foowear and jewellery.
The Influence of Art on Fashion
The two worlds of art and fashion go a long way into history, almost as far as the Renaissance. Art in its own aspect has followed humanity through its times. The world of fashion has also been synonymous to it.
A web article on the rise of Social conscience in art inspired fashion acknowledges that
‘Art can be a means of reconstructing experiences, communicating emotions or echoing sentiments of individuals or the masses.’ (The Rise of Social Conscience in Art Inspired Fashion)
Fashion too shares a place in evoking emotions and making statements. In these aspects it is obvious that Art and Fashion share many common links. The article also states that ‘The desire to express the need for a higher social conscience is driving the union between revolutionary art and clothing. (ibid)
Since it is now clear that there are links between Art and Fashion, I would like to first look at these two subjects individually.
Art plays a major role in peoples’ lives. It helps us be creative and gives us a platform to express ourselves. It is a big part of our lives that sometimes we stop to acknowledge the part it plays. Just think about the house you live in the jewellery you adorn, the cover of a novel, these are all a part of art.
Two currents of thought run through our ideas about art. In one, first considered by Aristotle (384 BC.), Art is concerned as mimesis (imitation), the representation of appearances, and gives us pleasure through the accuracy and skill with which it represents the real world. The other view derived from the Greek philosopher Plato (427 BC.), holds that the artist is inspired by the Muses, or by God or the inner impulses, or by the collective unconscious)to express that which is beyond appearances, inner feelings, eternal truths or the essence of the age. (Definition of Art, Hutchinson Encyclopedia)
The two philosophers Aristotle and Plato have defined art as Representational and Non Representational art. Non Representational art is more commonly referred to as Abstract art. Representational art is a style of realistic painting which depicts recognisable objects or figures. Whereas abstract art has no clear images and don’t form a clear identity, and must be interpreted by the observer of the artwork. Examples of representational art include still life, portraits and landscapes to name a few.
Non representational art came about during the modern world at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Abstract movement was formed and Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko’s were works of art which to the beholder had no objective meaning, unless scrutinized.
Like most subjects art too has fundamentals that it uses. Such as line, shape, form, space, texture and colour. ‘Artists manipulate these elements, mix them in with principles of design and compose a piece of art.’ (Mitler & Ragans, 1992). The elements of art serve as a base, on which the artist can build their forte on. An artist cannot create art without making the use of at least one or more of these elements. Art is also governed by its own principles. These principles help govern how artists organise the visual elements by giving them guide lines. ‘The principles of art include balance, variety, harmony, emphasis, proportion, movement and rhythm’. (Mitler & Ragans, 1992)
There are many products that we can classify as art. It solely depends on the individual. What I call art may not fall into the context of art for you. It is subjective, and is open to many interpretations. There is no definite limit to what can or cannot be called art; in the end it is up to the audience. Art communicates with people across different cultures. It ranges from sculpture to painting to Shakespeare novels and Mozart’s Classic compositions to Today’s graphically improvised ‘Anime’ cartoons and play station games. These are all the work of master craftsmen in their own accord. In other words they would simply be called ‘Artists’ and what they create would be classified as works of art. The musician Frank Zappa believed that
‘Anything can be music but it doesn’t become music until someone wills it to be music, and the audience listening to it decides to perceive it as music. Most people can’t deal with that abstraction, or don’t want to’ (Definition Of Art, 2005)
I want to go into the depths of Paintings and how it influences us and Fashion. My main focus will be on Paintings from the New Modern Age. Paintings have been in existence since the pre historic times. It is a continuous form of creativity which flows throughout history and culture and into today’s world. Paintings in history have had its influence mainly on the existing culture of its time. Like African, Indian, Japanese and Islamic art all have a strong link to its culture. Since the religion of Islam prohibits the remaking of any form of a living creature, Islamic art does not possess any form of Human life in it. Its main art form is Arabesque, the use of calligraphic motifs and Mosaic art
Paintings have a history of their own. From the cave paintings of the Stone Age to the art of the Renaissance period and into Modern art. As William Dobell says “A sincere artist is not one who makes faithful attempts to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in it-self a living thing. (Dobell, 2009)
I will give a brief synopsis on the Artistic movements through history to Today, starting from the period of the Renaissance.
The Renaissance –
Artists during this period wanted art that showed joy in human beauty and life’s pleasures. The paintings were more lifelike and brought in a sense of realism. They studied the art of perception, the artists painted in a way that showed differences from points of focus, resulting in painting with depth. The two famous painters from this time were Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. A famous quote by Michelangelo was that ‘The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection’ this is because he was a devout Christian and the church was his greatest patron.
Rococo Period of Art (1700 – 1750)
Rococo art is known for its light, ornamental and elaborate style of art. The main focus on paintings was of surface decoration and consisted mainly of light delicate colours. Portrait paintings was famous during this period, and one of the women painted often during this period was Madame de Pompadour.
Neoclassicism (1750 – 1830)
Then came about the 1800’s this was thought to be an age of change. It was also during this time that the french reveloution took place. No single art style was in place
Fashion is a specialized form of body adornment. It has been around ever since man was put down on earth. It has its own history and evolution through times.
Explorers and travellers were among the first to document and comment on the body adornment and dress styles that they encountered around the world. Some returned from their travels with drawings and examples of clothing’, sparking off a desire not only for the artefacts themselves but also for an understanding of them. Eventually the study of clothing came to be an accepted part of anthropology – The study of human beings. (Jones, 2002)
Fashion relates not only to clothing but also its accessories like jewellery, hairstyle, footwear and even body art. I intend on looking into the aspect of fashion in relation to clothing. To find out what fashion is and who make fashion be called fashion.
‘For as long as time, individuals have used clothing as a means of non verbal communication. It is known to be a form of free speech. It is a language of signs and symbols and iconography.’ (Jones, 2002)
It helps individuals to make a statement through what they wear and express individual identity, and since it is visual it is very easy for the onlooker to comprehend the image we are portraying through what we adorn.
‘Cultural theorists and clothing analysts have focused on four practical functions of dress: utility, modesty, immodesty and adornment.’ (Jones, 2002) George Sproles suggested four additional elements which are: ‘symbolic differentiation, social affiliation, psychological self enhancement and modernism. (George, 1979) Brief outlines of these elements are given below.
Clothing to be functional has to be practical. It is used to give us protectiveness in the environment that we are in. The human body temperature needs to be kept at a mean temperature to make sure of blood circulation and comfort. Dress reformers have put utility above other aesthetic considerations. ‘The American Publisher Amelia Jenks Bloomer was worried about the impracticality of the crinoline that women used. She then brought about the concept of wearing trousers called bloomers, which eradicated the impracticality of the crinoline.’ (Jones, 2002) With the story of the bloomers in mind, people today choose clothes with comfort and durability in mind.
Clothing acts as an aid to our nakedness. They help cover our body and can act as a guard to our modesty. We are often self conscious about our image, when it comes to revealing more of our body. When we grow older we try to hide our flaws, and seek clothing as our cover. Our culture plays a big role in modesty; it varies through individuals and societies over time.
Women have often been symbolized as passive sexual objects. Clothing can be used to enhance this attractiveness according to the wearer. A psychoanalytic approach, based on the writings of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have been used by fashion theorists to explain the unconscious process underlying changes in fashion. (Jones, 2002)
Young women in particular, often attempt to measure up to the ideals of beauty. In relation they use adornment to enrich their physical appearance, and bring out their individuality. The use of adornments could be as excessive as the user wants it to be. Such as how high can your shoe heels be, and how much make up could we layer on our face. These are all choices made on an individual level, in order to fit into a group or to make a statement.
We as human beings often feel the need to identify who we are to society. Be it a doctor, lawyer, nun or pop artist. We use clothing to help satisfy this need. Clothing helps differentiate and help recognize who we are. It distinguishes the levels of social standing and helps in recognizing religious associations and professions.
As opposed to differentiation, when it comes to social affiliation, we tend to dress to fit into a particular group or part of society. Clothing can sometimes be used as a revolt against fashion and its current trends as well. Like the punks who can be noted by their torn clothes, coloured hair and the dramatic use of safety pins. The Goths, who also dress in a similar fashion, have led to a more feminised version in Japan called the Gothic Lolita. These groups in time tend to form their own fashions and people treat them as modern trends. And try to adopt these elements into their wardrobe as well.
Psychological self enhancement
We as individuals try to stand out on our own and show our personality. For this reason you will hardly find two people dressed alike from head to toe. Because as individuals we have our own tastes and styles of putting things together. So we adorn ourselves in different manners even if we shop at the same store, and buy the same clothes the way we look once we have accessorised ourselves would differ, just like no two people are alike.
It is now evident that fashion indeed, does affect our life greatly. According to Linda Watson, dressing is our forth bodily function. ‘Dressing is the fourth bodily function after breathing, eating and sleeping and excluding a couple of delicious optional extras one of the fundamental pleasures of the human body is to clothe it. Which makes fashion its closest relation pretty important. (Watson, 1999)
Fashion is a form of art which will forever be changing throughout the decades, and the change is brought about by trends which are signalled out through Fashion design and its designers.
Fashion design is a form of art. It falls into the category of applied arts. Applied arts unlike fine arts is the application of design together with aesthetics to produce objects of use. it is ruled by the principle that ‘form follows function’. Fashion designing is the creativity of deigning clothing.
Like many forms of design and art fashion design too has its elements. The main elements are silhouette, line, and texture. The uses of these elements are called principle; they are repetition, rhythm, graduation, radiation, contrast, harmony, balance and proportion (Jones, 2002)
Fashion is divided into two seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Designers design accordingly to the two seasons. The clothing they produce for each season is called a collection. Fashion collections always have certain similarities, an invisible thread which ties up all the pieces of the collection together.
A look into the above mentioned elements and principles will help us to understand how fashion design works.
In simple terms Silhouette is basically the outline of a form. Fashion Silhouette is the overall outline a garment produces. As garments are three dimentional the Silhouette changes when it is moving. So designers have to keep this in mind when they design the clothing. The Silhouette of a garment is what first catches the eye. Because of distance it is what is first noticed before the detailing of the clothing comes to view. For this reason Silhouette is one of the most important elements in design. When designers produce a collection they keep in mind that it cannot have too many different Silhouettes. Too many variations will weaken the impact and the overall message that the designers are creating will be lost. Silhouettes have changed throughout times and have gone to extremes of being bulky and voluminous to flat and skinny. I will look at this later during the historical analysis if fashion.
The most common use of line in fashion is in the seaming of the pattern pieces and in fastenings. Vertical seam lines create an effect of length and elegance because they lead the eye up and down the body. Horizontal lines tend to be shorter in span and therefore draw attention to the width of the body. Lines across the body can make the figure appear shorter and wider. (Jones, 2002)
Lines in a garment give us different views of perception. Lines can be used effectively to enhance or hide features of the body. It helps give the garment direction and flow.
Texture in fashion design relates to the surface feel of the fabric. The way a fabric behaves is very important in design. As it will set the overall look of the garment and how the garment will sit on the body and move with flexibility. Colour is also important when it comes to creating a good impression with the garment.
Fashion design gives us a unique sense of luxury. As it offers to us not just forms of adornment by way of clothing, but it also gives us a feeling of belonging and self enhancement. As the clothing we wear and who they are made by speak tremendously about our personality. The inspirational source behind the clothing we choose does impact us to a certain degree. In the next chapter I will give an in-depth analysis on how Fashion design has been influenced by artistic movements and paintings.
Gianni Versace was a designer who was obsessed with the past. He was frequent in visiting museums and obsessed with their artworks. He studied the Byzantine art at the Metropolitan Museum of arts and was inspired by the metal found in byzantine art. Which he then put to use, by creating a metal neck cocktail top.
Yves St. Laurent, from 1965-1966, made dresses which bore the artistic works of Abstract Painter Piet Mondrian. ‘The welding of art and fashion, however found its most vivid expression in the Mondrian Dresses of Yves St. Laurent. His dresses came to be known as the ‘Mondrian Dress’ and was called the Dress of Tomorrow’ (Mackrell, Art and Fashion, 2005, p. 147) Figure 7.
The romance between fashion and the Surrealist movement began in the early 20’s when the movement broke away from the written word to embrace objects. The appeal of Surrealism to the fashion industry is instantly obvious in their use of ordinary everyday objects and weird landscapes that transferred easily to fabric printing, jewellery, hats, couture etc, allowing designers the freedom to create “art pieces”, and this fascination worked both ways as what covered the body had always been important to the Surrealist philosophy, in the way that it allowed the imagination to wonder what lay underneath, and this translated easily into wearable garments. (Martin, 1990)
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