top of page

The true artist

About the power of art in advertising and marketing 

The true artist

is an amazing luminous fountain.

Bruce Nauman

„I go up a staircase in the dark, wanted to take the last step, but because I am already at the top, there is no one left, and I step into the void. It's such a strange feeling that you get then. Our expectation is disrupted.“ This is what the artist Bruce Nauman said in an interview with the German online magazine "Zeit online" in 2004, describing, probably without knowing it, a so-called "insight" into the world of marketing - an everyday moment that completely occupies and surprises you for a fraction of a second, and at the same time triggers a kind of "aha effect" and the need to quickly grasp how this could have happened, in other words the context of this "step into the void". When someone manages to surprise us in this way with an advertisement, we feel in a way "caught".


To draw attention to a topic in an advertising way and at the same time by doing so leading the viewer to deeper thoughts is an approach that successful marketing strives for: With a so-called "planning", a so-called "insight" is to be created, an extraordinary brand moment, which stimulates (potential) customers to deal with what they have experienced through insight and enlightenment. In my opinion, art can be a game changer, because it has the power to create such moments. But how can art be used in advertising? How should exciting advertising be designed and how can artists design advertising without being instrumentalized? 

Let's get back to Bruce Nauman. His approach as an artist is inspiring to create relevant and disruptive brand experiences...

The artist as a luminous source that brings truths to light

One could see into Nauman`s studio from the street through the exterior glazing, which botherd him. So he first hung the panes with simple paper webs and then devoted himself to creating a curtain - one might think a curtain made of opaque material could fulfil this function of a privacy screen. But Nauman chose a slightly transparent pink polyester fabric. He also provided it with the following inscription: "The true artist is an amazing luminous fountain". The letters are written turned upright. Nauman's curtain has become a "see-through ", a work of art with which he sends a message into the world. With its pink colour, the curtain attracts attention and challenges its viewers: you have to turn your head to read the sentence and start thinking about what is meant. 

Shortly after the "privacy incident" Nauman gets inspired by a neon beer advertisement and another work of art is created: "The true artist helps the world by reavealing mysthics truth". The work has the form of a spiral and is also designed in the style of a neon sign. Basically, both works - the pink curtain and the neon spiral - can be located between advertising and art, and both works express a theme that Nauman is currently thinking about at the moment of their creation: being an artist. He has dealt with this topic in other works, including a black-and-white photograph from 1966 entitled "Self-Portrait as a fountain". The photograph shows Nauman standing in front of a few plants that he seems to be watering from his mouth; in 1967 he draws himself with pen and ink as a stone nude. A jet of water gushes from his mouth into a shallow basin on which is written "Myself as a Marble".
In this way he creates works of different kinds and genres, from different materials, in different places, with which he authentically expresses his emotions and wants to make them comprehensible for others. All these works are connected with each other; each individual work carries at its origin the idea for a solution to the theme that is currently occupying him. 

Art in everyday life

Bruce Nauman expresses how he feels with honesty towards himself. Through his art his truths come to light and become visible to others. He creates art in the everyday, his works do not necessarily (immediately) suggest art. He likes the unpredictable, the direct and at the same time the strange. 

Like Bruces Nauman, we structure with art in strategy® artistic activity and bring it into a holistic strategy. We abstract company-relevant themes and have them repeatedly questioned and interpreted by artists. In doing so, we give them space for free artistic associations. The result is - as with Nauman - a complete work on a certain topic, whose individual works are interdependent. Each work of art transports the corporate content in a different form. We arrange the individual works in relation to each other and use them within the framework of a holistic strategy at various points where (potential) customers come into contact with the company - the so-called "touchpoints". In this way they receive added value, arouse interest and advertising is received more sustainably. 

About moments of enlightenment and annoying advertising  

When it comes to advertising, (almost) all of us have the attitude: "I won't be influenced by it." The feeling of not wanting to be influenced implies a negative attitude towards advertising measures. The media and marketing publicist Wolfgang Koschnick gets to the point:

"Advertising was once considered a high art of communication. Today it has degenerated into an obtrusive siege of a reluctant audience. It is as annoying as a horde of ticks. Just stupid advertising. It can't have a favorable impact. It can only generate rejection and hatred." Let's face it, that's the way it is. Advertising sucks. Our head simply does not absorb all the advertising content we are confronted with every day. Also, advertising often lacks authenticity and offers us no added value. It often revolves around a superficial product and a world full of fake emotions. And we feel that. 

However, if advertising does not appear to be like advertising, if it contains content that stays with us; if it emotionalizes us and brings us into an interested basic attitude in order to be "picked up" again elsewhere - then, and only then, I think advertising is well done. Then it can have an effect. Advertising must offer us added value, even if we cannot yet consciously classify it. And art opens up this scope.


Art can increase the authenticity of advertising

Art does not give answers, it raises questions. Through the artistic and sensual presentation of the content, the viewers are irritated and challenged to deal with it. The free associations that the viewers develop in turn increase the authenticity of perception and the sustainability of the experience. The artistic content is truthful and socially relevant - a work of art helps artists to express their own thoughts and their themes also concern society, because art is a mirror of it. 

Note: Source for informations about Bruce Naumann.

Author: Katharina Arimont


March 4th 2020

bottom of page