Magritte in the Media
Following the rise of industry advertising and consumerism came quickly thereafter seemingly providing a new recreational activity for citizens, consumption. Since the early 1900s advertising and consumption has grown exponentially, much like modern artwork making its way into journalism, films, television, the Internet, billboards and so on; and just as critics debate over what can really ‘count’ as modern day art it is often debatable as to whether images with modern day products can ever truly be unloaded and separated from an advertisement. The fashion editorial is a commonplace feature in magazines that while presenting itself as content in the magazine it is truly advertisement for the clothing that is being featured beyond that tumultuous relationship some people would also argue that the modern fashion editorial could be seen as an art form. Interestingly enough these editorials which always follow some sort of theme are often “art inspired” and in some cases direct appropriations of famous art work. Genlux’s winter issue featured a editorial which appropriated surrealist painter, Rene Margritte’s works to display clothing creating images that are practically identical to the artist’s original work. This editorial, which while somewhat unique in it’s use of surrealist artwork is far from rare in advertising today where it is very common to find recreations of famous images. This advertising trend of using works of art to create images displaying products is interesting as examination of the particular art works used in relation to the products being displayed can reveal a lot about the product, the brand, and the advertisement’s true message, or to put it in Bourdieu’s words “taste classifies and it classifies the classifier”. Bourdieu’s thoughts about class and taste are extremely helpful when it comes to unloading modern day advertisements that are art work inspired, helping the viewer to unload the connotations of the original artwork, understand the capital that is gained by appropriating these artworks, and looking at the overall impact the layered images have. Examination of Genlux’s fashion editorial featuring appropriations of Margritte’s art work reflects the way that themes from art movements can lend themselves to be an advertising tool as well as considering how the implied meaning of a piece of art can be transferred into or upon a consumer good.
Using surrealist inspiration, or in the case of Genlux’s fashion editorial direct appropriation of surrealist art initially seems like a surprising choice for the advertising industry. Surrealist art which is often noted for its tendency to question reality in particular commonplace objects, and make viewers somewhat uncomfortable does not seem like the most logical images to invoke in order to to help sell a product however after closer examination surrealist art, in particular Margritte’s works feature certain aspects which lends them to not simply be successful as a work of art but to in fact also be particularly appealing to advertisers. Genlux recreates (In most cases almost identically) a few of Margritte’s pieces; Unknown, Golconde (1953), The Invention of Life (1928), Lovers (1928), Attempting the Impossible (1928), Black Magic (1933), and Dangerous Liaison (1926), in an editorial entitled Sir Realist, photographed by Andrew Matusik. The paintings chosen come from various stages of his career however they all do feature Magritte’s surrealist features and his representational approach; throughout the original paintings (and then appropriated in the editorial itself) ordinary and every day objects in these cases human silhouettes are found in unfamiliar places, an approach that Magritte used in his painting so that “their real aspect is effaced, so that familiar objects—the sky, people, trees, mountains, furniture, the stars, solid structures, graffiti—become united in a single poetically disciplined image. The poetry of...
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