GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

85. Advertising is the most influential and therefore the most important artistic achievement of the twentieth century.


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


Advertising is clearly the most influential art form in this century. It is therefore tempting to think it is also the most important. However, great artistic achievement is determined by criteria beyond mere influence. And when examined against these criteria, the genre of advertising does not measure up as truly important.

To begin with, great art inspires us to rook at the human situation from new perspectives. For example, early impressionist Paintings challenge our thinking about visual perception and about the nature of the reality we assume we see. Other works, like Rodin's THE THINKER capture for our reflection the essential value of human rationality. In stark contrast, advertising encourages people not to think or reflect at all, but simply to spend.

In addition, the significance of great artistic achievement transcends time even when it reflects a particular age. Yet advertising, by its very nature, is transient. In an eye-blink, to day's hot image or Slogan is yesterday’s news. Of course, the timelessness of a work cannot be determined in its own time. Still, it's hard to imagine even the most powerful advertisement living beyond its current ad campaign.

Admittedly, one ad - Andy Warhol's painting of the Campbell Soup can - has achieved timelessness. But notice the irony. The Packaging or advertising image was banal until it was elevated above mere graphic design to high art. The lesson here is that advertising, in itself, probably will not achieve great importance art. But taken up by the artist as content in a larger commentary on society, it can become transcendent.

In sum, artists will no doubt continue to comment on advertising and on the materialistic values it reflects and promotes. But the ads themselves, however influential in marketing terms, fail to fulfil all the criteria for important art.

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