As a strategic planner, I’m interested in both the practical execution and the conceptualisation of art. And Matisse, one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century, whose final chapter entitled The Cut-Outs is currently exhibited at Tate Modern, went as far as to invent an entirely new medium.
In an essay from 1953 Matisse explained what creativity meant to him:
"For the artist, creation begins with vision. Everything that we see in our daily lives is more or less distorted by our acquired habits. And this is perhaps more evident in an age like ours where cinema posters and magazines present us everyday with a flood of readymade images, which are to the eye what prejudices are to the mind. The effort needed to see without distortion demands a kind of courage and this courage is essential to the artist who has to look at everything as though he was seeing it for the first time. To take an example: I think that nothing is more difficult for a true painter than to paint a rose since before he can do so he must first forget all the roses that were ever painted. Great love is needed to inspire and sustain this continuous striving towards truth. But isn’t love the origin of all creation?"
One can’t help but draw parallels between art and advertising. Dave Trott refers to advertising as applied art (as it has a commercial purpose) with good reason. Great art enables us to look differently at the world. Great advertising speaks a new language that connects with our emotion. Both present us with a fresh perspective; both must break traditional codes and challenge preconceptions to have an impact.
But this is where the similarities end. While art is at the forefront of culture and creates new codes, advertising seeks to apply them. Art conceives or dissiminates new ideas, while advertising harnesses them. This is not a bad thing. Advertising after all has to resonate with our emotion and to do so, it must recognise what’s already there: value shifts and new importances in people’s lives and then react accordingly. That’s why to be culturally relevant, advertising must look to art for inspiration and new ideas about the world we live in.