Business and art go together like… Well, these days, the proverbial horse and carriage
ndy Warhol, a man who knew whereof he spoke, once observed, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
The pop artist was not the first to appreciate the possibilities of combining art and money. In 1886, Sir John Everett Millais painted A Child’s World, a vanitas portrait of his grandson blowing bubbles. Thomas Barrett, managing director of A & F Pears, realised its image of innocence (and healthy skin) could be used to sell soap. Millais was reluctant to sanction its reproduction as an advertisement, but eventually he consented and generations of parents saw his adverts and children found Pears soap in the bathroom.
There was one difference between Andy Warhol and John Millais. Warhol embraced commerce, the bigger the better, it was the point of his work, whereas the knight-painter was more concerned about artistic integrity. Criticised for selling out, Millais tried to prevent the painting being used for advertising, but having sold it was unable to do so.
“More than ever, artists are rolling over for the corporate world which, in turn, is embracing them”
Art and business are diametrically opposed. The one is creative, individual, internalised; the other systematised, mass market, external. Yet more than ever, artists are rolling over for the corporate world which, in turn, is embracing them.
The battalions of commerce have realised times are changing. It is no longer enough to satisfy consumers’ needs functionally – brands require an emotional connection. Contemporary art, with its connotations of sex and glamour, and intellectual playfulness, its visual culture,
is the perfect vehicle.