Art Exhib. Touts Itself as First to Display Adverts

By Matt Van Hoven 

It’s a bit haughty of The Chambers Gallery in London to say they’re hosting the “first ever exhibition to recognise (silly Brits &#151 haven’t they ever watched Sesame Street?) the art of advertising.”

So I guess that means that every ad conceived, ever, up until today, has been viewed strictly as fodder for commerce? Maybe they’ve never heard of a little event called The One Show, or the Clios &#151 hell even the Milwaukee 99 is an ode to great work.


On that note, more than one American entity has taken an interest in the idea of advertising as art, i.e. the Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design (also in Milwaukee) is a perfect example. More lip after the hop-skip-jump.

Leave it to the English to claim something that’s already been done.

I suppose there is a noteworthy bit of news here &#151 there’s finally be a place for shops to display the work their clients (daft or otherwise) decided to pass on because it didn’t speak to their audience. That is, other than in their lobbies, bathrooms and cutting rooms.

But seriously, the question of whether advertising should be considered art is as old as the first nude painting.

“The aim of the exhibition, organised (I can’t get over the ‘s’ &#151 am I the only one?) by The Chambers Gallery in London, is to showcase the art of the art director. The curator, Philip Roe, comments: ‘This exhibition, the first to offer original advertising artwork for sale as fine art (editor’s note: eh hem, bullshit), will signal the end of that hoary (editor’s note: whory???)old debate about the status of commercial art. We can see for ourselves: advertising art can be art of the highest quality.’ ”

One way or another, advertising is a form of social commentary (read: art). It is a reflection of the things we find important (albeit inflated) and shouldn’t be overlooked per se.

But is this gallery really so hard up for ideas? I’m trying to imagine how the idea came about, and I bet it was over a pint. See below:

Slightly Tipsy Gallery Dude 1: “Oy, I fink dem ads is good. We shud puttem up somewheres people can see ’em.”

Tipsier Gallery Dude 2: “Ya mean otha than ova the toilet? But it’s such a good spot!”

Slightly Tipsy Gallery Dude 1:”Naw naw, get Phillip on the ringy-ding. He hasn’t had anyfing up in his shop for awhile. He’ll bite.”

Tipsier Gallery Dude 2: “Great idea! ‘Ave you eva heard of a book called ,”Hey Whipple, Squeeze this!” &#151 I ‘jes picked it up. Great stuff.”

End scene.