Graphic Design & Art History
I remember a lesson in my art history class during university; it was a lightbulb moment. We were discussing the future of art history. We were talking about what would be in the textbooks about the 2010s in 50 years.
There are so many phenomenal fine artists right now. With 7 billion people on the planet, you can find art your heart desires. Art history deals with what pieces of art are critical to history. It deals with how art changed the course of history.
Where does art history begin?
Often if you’re in an Art History class, you start with the Medici family during the Italian Renaissance. They were the first family that was influential because of the amount of money they had (they were bankers), rather than holding an aristocratic title. They paid for these amazing works including Donatello’s David and the Duomo in Florence.
After the Renaissance, Italy and Europe entered the Baroque period, where the Catholic church commissioned most of the art. The art, of course, depicted Christian scenes and morality.
The Medici and the Catholic church were patrons of the arts because it was advertising for them before advertising was a thing that people did. The Medici wanted to show off how much wealth they had and they wanted to establish themselves as powerful, especially as a family without any titles. It worked! It resulted in Medici family members being elected to the papacy. The church (or more likely the cardinals who vote) realized the kind of power and influence the Medici family held and wanted them to be on their side.
Paying for advertising
The Catholic church wanted more members and people to spend money on absolution. Whether through fear or through genuine devoutness, so depicting scenes of martyrs, moral lessons from the Bible, and scenes from the Passion are all important reminders for people to come to church and be on their best behaviour, and so will your life’s possessions to the church upon your death.
Historical paintings were created for a purpose through funding from patrons. Like anything that is funded, there is a goal or an agenda that the client wants to achieve. It will be these transactional pieces of art that make the art history books in years to come.
We decided that one of the advertisements that would make the pages of future textbooks would be the iPod ad from the mid-2000s. The colourful one with the dancing silhouettes. This was an outstanding piece of advertising that skyrocketed the Apple brand into the mainstream.
Art history, design history and the history of advertising are inseparable. The historic movers and shakers in the arts are today’s marketers, advertising executives and graphic designers. Who is writing our history and how are they writing it? What do you think will be in the art history books of the future?