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Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

All Art Is Advertising?

As someone who's slightly obsessed with Italian art history, I found these two videos via Agency Spy extremely informative and entertaining. The case studies, presented by a team of students at VCU Brand Center, explore how famous Italian artists were commissioned to create art in response to various problems the country was facing - like declining birth rates due to obesity and lack of popularity of the Vatican. I'm really curious to know where they got their facts. I can understand how they compiled an increase in birth rates but number of people praying in the Vatican? Wow! This really makes me think about the similarities between commissioned art and advertising. Is there really a difference? Were commissioned artists really the first art directors? When you look back in history, commissioned European art contained symbolism. It was a vehicle for the wealthy to advertise their position in life through their clothing, background, and even the paints that the artist painted with. Italian art is saturated with images that teach people how to behave. The interior of the Florentine Duomo, partially painted by artist and first art historian Giorgio Vasari, depicted graphically violent and sexual images of hell, warning Florentines what would happen if they misbehaved. But the images are so graphic that you wonder whether sexually charged or violent movies and shows like Skins, True Blood, etc. are really a deviation from the type of content humans have always been exposed to.

Speaking of the past influencing the future; architects originally had trouble figuring out how to create the dome and held a contest, open to architects to solve the problem. Were the commissioners of the duomo, the Arte Della Lana, the first to crowd source for a creative solution?

And finally, going back to Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man - it's interesting to see how despite being surrounded by images of beautiful, thin people in the media, Americans are fatter than they ever were and despite knowing that obesity effects fertility, productivity, and our general well being, no amount of perfectly toned, beautiful people in advertising seems to have any effect on our national obesity epidemic. Maybe instead of just writing about the obesity epidemic, we need more advertising to convince people how to eat and exercise, a la the anti-smoking campaigns of the past.

I leave you with the two videos below. Enjoy!