The contemporary commercial art and design of today has no doubt been created through the heavy influences of 20th century art. Most corporations who advertise on a large scale look back to the most influential art of the past century when creating their ads. It’s almost impossible to walk the city streets without being bombarded by billboards with crafty designs and catchy phrases. With a little research though, it’s fairly easy to find that the basis of this commercial art can be found in the art of the last one hundred years.
Cartoons come first to mind when thinking about the different ways 20th century art have impacted modern day art and design. Long before I saw the original “American Gothic” by Grant Wood, I laughed at a portrait of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck standing together in front of a farm house with pitch fork in hand. Most cartoons seem to have an underlying humor meant to be understood by even the most articulate and intellectual adult, while at the same time being simplistic enough to entertain a small child. Cartoonists successfully accomplish this by being well read and educated in myth, history and art.
Advertising agencies must be just as well educated in order to create influential advertisements that will impact consumers. “De Stijl” created by Peit Mondrian has without a doubt been one of the most popular designs incorporated into today’s commercial art. On almost every bottled hair care product from Loreal is a composed set of lines complete with red, yellow and blue squares, expressing striking similarities to “De Stijl.” Tommy Hilfiger uses clean lines and the three primary colors in all of his advertisements as well as on his signature label which also mimic the style of Peit Mondrian. While visiting a museum and studying a Mondrian, most of the general public repeatedly remarks to how his paintings look as if “anyone could do them.” However, using the same artistic logic and redesigning his work on a bottle of hairspray or a t-shirt, the public becomes awe-stricken and then rushes out in a mad fury to purchase this stylish product which is actually based on the same style of art which if hung in a museum looks to them like something “anyone could make.”
Advertisers look also to the photography of the past century when designing ads for magazines.