Art is Advertising for What We Really Need

Art is Advertising for What We Really Need


At the centre of our societies is a hugely
inventive force dedicated to nudging us towards a heightened appreciation of certain aspects
of the world. With enormous skill, it throws into relief the very best sides of particular
places and objects. It uses wordsmiths and image makers of near genius, who can create
deeply inspiring and beguiling associations and position works close to our eyelines at
most moments of the day. Advertising is the most compelling agent of mass appreciation
we have ever known. Because advertising is so ubiquitous, it can be easy to forget that
– of course – only a very few sorts of things ever get advertised. Almost nothing
in the world is in a position to afford the budgets required by a campaign; advertising
is a form of love overwhelmingly reserved for those wealthy potentates of modern life:
nappies, cereal bars, conditioners, hand sanitisers and family sedans. This has a habit of skewing
our priorities. One of our major flaws as animals, and a big contributor to our unhappiness,
is that we are very bad at keeping in mind the real ingredients of fulfilment. We lose
sight of the value of almost everything that is readily to hand, we’re deeply ungrateful
towards anything that is free or doesn’t cost very much, we trust in the value of objects
more than ideas or feelings, we are sluggish in remembering to love and to care – and
are prone to racing through the years forgetting the wonder, fragility and beauty of existence.
It’s fortunate, therefore, that we have art. One way to conceive of what artists do
is to think that they are, in their own way, running advertising campaigns; not for anything
expensive or usually even available for purchase, but for the many things that are at once of
huge human importance and constantly in danger of being forgotten. In the early part of the
twenty-first century, the English artist David Hockney ran a major advertising campaign for
trees. image03 David Hockney, Three Trees Near Thixendale,
2007 At the start of the sixteenth century, the
German painter Albrecht Dürer launched a comparable campaign to focus our minds on
the value of grass. And in the 1830s, the Danish artist Christen
Kobke did a lot of advertising for the sky, especially just before or after a rain shower. In the psychological field, the French painter
Pierre Bonnard carried out an exceptionally successful campaign for tenderness, turning
out hundreds of images of his partner, Marthe, viewed through lenses of sympathy, concern
and understanding. In an associated move, the American painter
Mary Cassatt made a pretty good case for the world-beating importance of spending bits
of one’s life with a child. These were all acts of justice, not condescension.
They were much needed correctives to the way that what we call ‘glamour’ is so often
located in unhelpful places: in what is rare, remote, costly or famous. If advertising images
are to blame for instilling a sickness in our souls, the images of artists are what
can reconcile us with our realities and reawaken us to the genuine, but too-easily forgotten
value, of particular bits of our lives. Consider Chardin’s Woman Taking Tea. The sitter’s
dress might be a bit more elaborate than is normal today; but the painted table, teapot,
chair, spoon and cup could all be picked up at a flea market. The room is studiously plain.
And yet the picture is glamorous – it makes this ordinary occasion and the simple furnishings,
seductive. It invites the beholder to go home and create their own live version. The glamour
is not a false sheen that pretends something lovely is going on when it isn’t. Chardin
recognises the worth of a modest moment and marshalls his genius to bring its qualities
to our notice. It lies in the power of art to honour the
elusive but real value of ordinary life. It may teach us to be more just towards ourselves
as we endeavour to make the best of our circumstances: a job we do not always love, the imperfections
of age, our frustrated ambitions and our attempts to stay loyal to irritable but loved families.
Art can do the opposite of glamourise the unattainable; it can reawaken us to the genuine
merit of life as we’re forced to lead it. It is advertising for the things we really
need. Thank you for watching, liking and subscribing. If you want more, why not visit us in person and attend a class or take a look at our shop at the link on your screen now.

100 COMMENTS

    Art is not only helping us appreciate what we already have and finding beauty in every day life, it is also making us think. While advertisement focuses on us not thinking, art actually encourages us to look at our life from fresh (or old) point of view.
    Art helps us rest and recharge our batteries, while advertisement just drains us. Art reminds us what it is like to be human and often lead to catharsis. That is why art rocks and so does School of life!

    Well, I personally enjoy paintings and drawings of more grotesque things involving themes like death, blood, gore, corpses, decay, inhumanity, slaughter, detached body parts or simply the idea of finding beauty in things, others would describe as distasteful. Does that mean I'd have to kill a bunch of people myself to really, properly "value" life? Just the fact that I like these forms of art doesn't make me a bad human being, nor does it mean I would ever want to do something like this myself.

    I feel like there is a lot of middle-class bias in these videos, especially around free things, anyone who is poor know that a lot of cheap and free things are way way better.

    Unfortunately we live in a time where art is seen as more and more elitist, pretentious and highbrow. Regular folk are rarely if ever exposed to quality works of art, which have become a mere commodity dictated by economics rather than aesthetics. We're left with consumer level mass market advertising to satisfy our taste for beauty. Fine arts have to be more accessible to everyone if this video is to really hit home. (search for the "How the Fine Art Market is a Scam" video and watch it if you haven't yet)

    Of course. In my case i play the guitar and love music. The reason i like the guitar so much is because i have trouble expressing myself and letting myself be. Music is a way to talk to the Other and the others too.

    In the last episode of my favourite political comedy show they said art is only showing the problem, not the solution. That seems to be a difference between art and advertising.

    Art as everything wise , teaches us that the most valuable things are the ones we take for granted , and the emptiest things are the ones we endlessly chase .. thank you SOL
    I'm your biggest fan

    If one sees advertising as art, it is really bad art. And bad art is dangerous in that it screws with our sense of meaning and and the way we identify. Bad art is dangerous in that it fails to do a lot of good. Advertising is really bad art. Yet it is by far the most produced, and most exhibited form of art in the western world.
    27th of November is the international #noadday. Please note.

    I'm glad this message is being shared. There seems to be an axiom that the truth needs to be painful, but I don't believe that. People are like kids, and the truth is like medicine. You could shove it down their throats, or you could hide it in their food.

    if you look at the common subject in art: naked women, dining and royalties I guess this translates to the need of sex, food and power.

    Art works in both ways, creator and audience, while advertising works in only one way, from advertisement to customer. I think this is another difference between art and advertisement. Art gives us diverse experience so we can grow up. However, advertisement makes us just poorer. Either money or mind.

    What a fantastic video. You've managed to pinpoint why it is that one's soul always feels absolutely lifted and buoyant after visiting an art gallery, and conversely why the ceaseless barrage of advertising we're exposed to daily leaves us all so jaded.

    Hmmm. I'm not entirely sure that's a good assessment. Not bad. But perhaps a better description of art is "communicating one's unconscious/emotional interior in an exterior way" in some sensual/sensory way. In comparison to science/politics which is more of an intellectual/conscious expression of one's interiority.

    thank you school of life! I have a question: So by what you are saying doesn't a glamourous life make you happy, and shouldn't we go after it If we can? Plz answer me.

    Clever analysis, but it seems to me that the motivating spirit of art has almost nothing to do with the motivating spirit of advertising.

    Unfortunately many artists don't understand they're to compete against commercial advertisement. Too many are complacent in participating in a sort of self masturbating art world. But the stage is bigger and louder than ever and if you have something important to say you have to adapt to new rules. Art is more important than ever. Art out loud.

    this is very specific to the kind of art in this video, so this would definitely not apply to most art, especially after the 19th century. I wish this video would address that instead of implying that this is the purpose of all art, because I expect this channel to understand the levels of complexity of the philosophies of art but this video seems to over simplify it a bit, and I feel this should have been a video essay about a certain movement of art instead of art in general

    I wholeheartedly agree with this video. I wish you had expanded beyond traditional fine art to include other schools, and also beyond the world of the canvas to include sculpture, music, writing, film-making, architecture, or civil engineering. Even a well-presented lecture can instil an appreciation of human worth; Inspiration can be found in pretty much all endeavour.

    I like to draw destroyed cities and nuclear watelands.

    In the words of Jimmy: " postponing suicide for the slim chance that you might one day possibly see some glorious plague or pestilence bring horrible suffering to your hateful species."

    There's a wonderful video by the School of Life on how societies need art because we use it to say the things we cannot say in conversations (yet). I can't find it anymore though. Can someone please point me to it? Thank you! 🙂

    You are not taking into account the fact that all man made works are political and have an idiology implicit. So art can be a sort of counter-mainstream-culture, but it is definitely a social production and therefore is political as advertising.

    I'm a sophomore and majoring in art, I've never looked at art the way that this video described. I love it! <3

    I just wrote a cool blog post on this subject, on my blog coderevolution ro: "All you need to know about advertising" – go check it out!

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