Aspects of the visual arts in advertising with particular reference to South Africa.
This investigation accepts that art is a term of western culture and that advertising is a creation of an historical and social process firmly linked to the economies of western industrialised nations. A cultural niche theory of the visual arts is employed to define the various visual art forms and it is in this context that the development of the notion of fine art, which had its origins during the Renaissance, is investigated with a view to how this led to the commodification of art. The phenomenon of art as a commodity accelerated throughout the nineteenth century and was moulded by the same political, cultural, social, economic and technological forces that gave rise to advertising when, during the second half of the century, the capitalist system of production became geared towards mass production of products for consumption. This was also the period of significant European colonial expansion in southern Afiica and consequently the development of both art and advertising in the region was cast in a colonial, European mould, the effects of which are investigated throughout this research project. This body of research also seeks to explain how the meaning and the value of the art object and its reproduced image, changed and became exchangeable as technology developed. Significantly this occurred at a time when the needs of advertising shifted from a simple system of proclamation and announcement on the periphery of the national economy during the nineteenth century to become a sophisticated system of communication which acts as an influential social institution at the end of this millennium. That this appears to have occurred at a time when the influence of fine art began to decline as a cultural force is significant as it is in this context that advertising has become a primary carrier of meaning in society. This research project works within this paradigm to investigate the history and motives of business support for the arts, particularly the visual arts, in the form of sponsorship with particular reference to a culturally diverse and politically dynamic South Africa. In addition, specific rhetorical devices that advertising employs, as a strategic tool of marketing, to appropriate and (ex)change meaning from the value laden visual art object is investigated with reference to contemporary advertising in South Africa.
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