Ben Hiscox's Blog

Research and Critical Practice (2MED442) : 2010-11

Art vs. Advertising

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Having discussed the plagiarism accusations related to Cog, this feels like a natural path to take on expanding my research; whether there have been other cases of alleged plagiarism in advertising (most likely yes, though have there times when action has been taken?), but more broadly I’m also looking at the relationship between art and advertising.

Macleod, Hugh., (24 April, 2010). Art vs Advertising Cartoon. [online image] Available from: <; [Accessed 24 November 2010].

Advertising and Art have shared a close relationship for years, Marshall McLuhan described advertising as ‘the greatest art form of the 20th century’. Identifying why and how they’ve encroached onto the other’s territory is an interesting point of discussion.

Though this research has focused on looking at how Cog (Advert) had allegedly copied from Der Lauf Der Dinge (Art), and is therefore weighted towards other examples of advertising borrowing (drawing upon/stealing/being inspired by etc.), I’ll briefly discuss other examples of art/advertising crossovers for means of comparison.

In 1985 Absolut Vodka started its ‘Artists’ magazine campaign which saw contemporary artists such as Ed Ruscha and Keith Haring commissioned to paint images of the Absolut vodka bottle.

It is worth noting this is one of Absolut’s most iconic and successful campaigns – “As history tells, it was Andy Warhol who first approached art collector and patron Michel Roux and asked to paint the Absolut bottle. And so was born a campaign that’s now run for 15 successful years. In 1993, the New York American Marketing Association inducted the campaign into its Marketing Hall of Fame, calling it “fresh and topical because it embraces the dynamic worlds of art and fashion. It is continually being energized with new spins and expansions. [1]”

This examples illustrates how art and advertising can mesh in an effective and ‘consenting’ way; the artist has been commissioned to paint a work.


This is an exert taken from an article discussing the relationship between advertising and art; Coleman clearly details their symbiosis. However, this description should be considered in context of a situation in which the relationship is ‘consenting’ (and therefore beneficial), this is to say, when the artist or advertiser have agreed to have their work (or part of it) used within the other party’s piece.

This leads us to find that the majority of (negative?) discussions and potential controversy around the relationship of art and advertising is therefore in situations when one of the partys may not have been so consenting (or consulted at all).

In the 1960’s Warhol famously made silk-screen copies of Campbell’s Soup Tins and Brillo Boxes and in the 1980’s Richard Prince photographed magazine adverts of Marlboro cigarettes, enlarged them and exhibited them as his own works. Both of these pieces looked at addressing the idea originality while being focused particularly on targeting advertising.

Saul Steinberg

In 1987, a court ruling gave Saul Steinberg ‘summary judgement’ after he claimed that Columbia Pictures had copied his cover for the New Yorker (titled “View of the World From 9th Avenue) for the film “Moscow on the Hudson.

Christian Marclay vs. Apple

In 2007, Apple released an advert for soon to be released iPhone. The 30-second advert consisted of  a montage of cartoon characters and Hollywood actors picking up a phone and saying “Hello”. The advert ends with a shot of the iPhone.

Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay became aware of the advert soon after its airing; his concern was due to the similarity the advert shared to his 7 and a half minute video titled “Telephones”, made in 1995, of iconic film and TV characters answering the phone.

Roughly a year before Marclay had been approached by Apple (specifically the Paila Cooper Gallery, who represent his work in New York) about using his work in an advert – he declined on the grounds that an advertiser of that size and scale would end up causing his work to be seen as ‘the iPhone ad’. Despite declining and subsequently Apple still creating the advert (though how much they ‘drew’ from the work is to be debated), Marclay did not pursue the issue legally; it’s worth noting that this may be down to him not wanting to bring unwanted attention to his acquisition of the video clips in his work without proper permission from the owners.

It’s almost an infinite regress.

Further Research:

Can anyone ever claim to be the ‘original’ creator?

Roland Barthes would say no – discuss?


[1, 2] Tarateta, Maja., (April 2001). Advertising & Art: A Modern-Day Marriage. [online] Art Business News Available from: <; [Accessed 25 November 2010].

Fineman, Mia., (April 2001). The Image is Familiar; the Pitch isnt [online] NYTimes from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010]

Warhol, Andy., (1962). Campbells Soup Cans. [online image] Available from: <; [Accessed 25 November 2010].

Absolut., (1985). ‘Artists’ Absolut Campaign. [online image] Available from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010].

iPhoneblog., (April 2007). iPhone Advert [online] Youtube, from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010]

whitebreadmike., (February 2007). “Telephone” Exert [online] Youtube, from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010]

Absolut., (1985). Absolut Ads. [online image] Available from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010].

Steinberg, Saul., (1987). ‘A View of The World from 9th Avenue’ [online image] Available from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010].

Columbia Pictures., (1987). ‘Moscow on the Hudson’ [online image] Available from: <> [Accessed 25 November 2010].


Written by bhiscoxcmp

November 25, 2010 at 2:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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