Chapter Twelve - Chapter Two Ana

Document Sample
Chapter Twelve - Chapter Two Ana Powered By Docstoc
					Chapter Twelve: Writing about Art and Advertising

While we talk a great deal about writing in this book, much
of the communication that surrounds us is visual. There is
a long tradition of analyzing paintings and scultpures to
discover the ways they create meaning and appeal to our
emotions. More recently, scholars have begun applying
similar analyses to images from advertising and other
sources of popular media. Like literature, both art and
images represent artifacts that express ideas and reflect
aspects of culture.

As with other forms of expression, we can understand these
images by learning to recognize some of their components.
We can begin by considering the media (or materials) that
are used for a work. We can then explore how shape,
texture, colors, patterns, and numerous other elements of
art (and visual images) combine to create meaning. We can
also look at how the subject matter of art and the content
of visual compositions represent themes and imagery that
appeal to our both our sense and intellect. And, we can ask
questions about how these cultural artifacts relate to the
contexts in which they are produced and received.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               2

Be sure to explore the many works of art and examples from
advertising on our CD as you consider the discussion in
this chapter.


Drawings, sculpture, photographs, and paintings all depend
on specific materials for their creation. Materials such as
oil paints, charcoal pencils, photo-chemicals, and stone
represent some of the media used to create works of art.
Materials determine some of the techniques artists will
use—a photograph might manipulate lighting and color, while
an etching might emphasize shapes and lines. In
contemporary culture, we often refer to media as the means
used to transmit images—television or magazines represents
media of transmission for images that might be

Drawings, photographs, and paintings share a number of
qualities that contribute to their messages and visual
appeal. Lines and shapes combine to create the main
subjects in an image. Color and light (We’ll look at
photography in a moment.)

Recognizing Lines, Shapes, and Textures

Rather than the straight marks between point A and point B
we might associate with a line drawn using a ruler, in
visual images, lines represent any kind of significant mark
that is used to create the composition of the image. In
practice, lines more accurately reproduce the edges and
markings we might find in the natural world. Lines can be
curved, or interrupted. They will take both horizontal and
vertical directions, and they can be combined to create
patterns and textures.

Lines also help create shapes within an image. Consider
“The White Cat” by Pierre Bonnard on page 000. Notice how
lines are used to create the space and perspective of the
table on which the cat sits. Consider how the thickness and
curves suggest the weight of the cat (compare a whisker
with the cat’s bottom). Some lines are interrupted and
others are disconnected with the body of the cat. These
lines created with pen and ink use thickness, interruption
and curves to give shape to the image of the cat.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               3

Contrast The lines in the White Cat with the ways lines
work in the The Frugal Repast by Picasso on page 000.
Picasso’s piece is an etching made up of numerous lines. As
with The White Cat, these lines create shape—look at the
fingers of the man and woman or the lines that depict the
man’s neck. Additionally, lines are used in the etching to
create a sense of texture and shading. Look at how lines
create differences in texture between the shaded areas of
the wall in the background.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               4

Texture need not apply only to painted or drawn works,
however. Contrast the texture of Rodin’s statue The Thinker
that appears at the opening of this chapter with
Michelangelo’s Pieta printed below.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               5

Michelangelo Pieta

Understanding Color and Light

Color and light contribute to the mood of a visual image
and create focal points that draw our eyes to aspects of an
image. Colors in images are selected based on their
relationships to one another and the combinations of
choices form the color palette or scheme for the image.
When discussing color we can refer to this scheme or to the
characteristics of a particular color. Colors are
frequently described in terms of their intensity or warmth
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               6

using adjectives like bright or dark, and warm or cool.
(You can see color reproductions of many works of art and
learn more about evaluating color on our CD.)

Similarly, light can be used to draw our attention to
elements of an image and create emphasis (see below) and
create a mood. We can discuss the uses of lighting in terms
of value (the relative amount of light or darkness present
in a color) and contrasts. The greatest contrast in values
can be seen in black and white images. However, even a
single color can have different values—think of the
contrasts that are made when lightly pressing instead of
firmly grinding a crayon into paper. We can describe the
light value of colors using adjectives that describe
intensity or depth like deep, bright, dark, medium, or

Consider how color and light work in “The Nostalgia of the
Infinite” by Giorgio de Chirico (on page 000 in black and
white and on our CD in color). The painting uses color to
create a sharp contrast between the dark blue background of
the sky and the bright beige swatch of dried grass in the
middle. The value of the portion of the painting in shadow
in the foreground is even darker. The deep dark foreground
and the bright light side of the tower create an intense
contrast that asks the viewer to consider the relationship
between the two spaces.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               7

In photography, light plays a similarly important role. By
adjusting the amount of light exposed to the film in the
camera and by considering sources of light and how they
affect the composition of an image, photographers use light
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               8

to create emphasis, patterns, and contrasts. Edward
Weston’s Church Door, Hornitas demonstrates the use of
light and the capturing of texture in a photographic image.

Edward Weston, Church Door, Hornitas 1940

Exercise 12.1 Exploring Elements of Art

     Working with a group of fellow students, consider
     Picasso’s “The Frugal Repast” and “The Nostalgia of
     the Infinite” by Giorgio de Chirico.

     Begin by discussing the title of Picasso’s etching.
     Without thinking about the painting—just concentrate
     on the theme in the title—write a one sentence
     explanation of what you believe the title suggests.

     Next look at the uses of lines and shapes in the
     etching. What do you find striking about the lines and
     shapes. How would you describe the meaning that they
     convey? Write three or more sentences explaining how
     the lines and shape relate to the title.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                               9

     Next, look at the textures and lighting in the
     etching. What effects do the textures and lighting
     have on you as a viewer? What aspects of the etching
     do they emphasize. Why do you think the effect they
     have is significant. Write three or more sentences
     discussing texture and lighting in the work.

     Then, move on to de Chirico’s painting. Begin by
     analyzing the lines and shapes in the painting. What
     shapes stand out and what do you think they represent?
     What is significant about the lines? How do these
     shapes and lines relate to the subjects within the
     compositon (the tower and the figure)? Write three or
     more sentences explaining what you believe is
     represented by

     Next, consider the uses of light and color in the
     painting. How do they relate to the shapes and lines?
     How do they relate to the painting’s subjects? Write
     three or more sentences discussing light and color in
     the work.

     Finally, based on your analysis of the painting
     consider what you believe to be the painting’s
     message. Now look at the title for the painting. How
     does this title relate to your sense of the message?
     Write a sentence explaining the title in terms of the

Understanding the principles of design

We can analyze elements of art like lines, shapes, colors
and light to illustrate some of the strategies artists use
to create images that convey meaning. These principles of
design include emphasis, balance, and coherence. To explore
how these principles relate to the elements of art, we can
begin by considering the role of the viewer of an image.

We’ve already looked at how light can be used to draw a
viewer’s eye toward particulars in an image to create
emphasis. In addition to light, color and arrangement (see
below) can create emphasis. Consider how the placement of
and spacing between the figures in Gertrude Goodrich’s
“Scenes From American Life (The Beach) emphasizes the man
sitting in the lower right-hand corner of the painting.
Emphasis focuses our attention; it helps us hone in on
particulars as we develop an understanding of an image.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              10

Balance refers to the relationships between elements in an
image. Often balance applies to the shapes and proportions
of an image. Compare Claude Monet’s On the Banks of the
Sienne, Bennecourt” on page 000 with Rene Magritte’s “The
Human Condition” on page 000. “The Human Condition”
displays a symmetrical structure to create a sense of
balance. Monet’s painting provides a more asymmetrical

Viewers of Monet’s painting may be initially drawn to the
figure of the woman wearing stripes. The placement and
proportion (he relative size of objects in the image) of
the woman make her appear closer and focus our attention on
the near shore. Initially, the symmetrical balance in
Magritte’s painting might focus our eye on the window that
lies between the curtains. However, the painting that has
been placed before the window offers a subtle variation on
the symmetrical balance of the image. The painted scene
pushes the balance of the image forward so that from left
to right we see a great deal of symmetry, but there is also
a sense of depth from the front to the back of the
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                         11

Claude Monet “On the Banks of the Sienne, Bennecourt”
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              12

Rene Magritte “The Human Condition”

Coherence refers to the unity and logical arrangement of
the elements in an image. A sense of coherence can be
created through balance and proportion or through aspects
of color. In Monet’s “On the Banks of the Sienne,
Bennecourt,” the woman in stripes is much larger than the
figures on the far bank, but since the sizes reflect the
relative distance of the two figures their proportions are
coherent. “The Human Condition” surprises expectations by
providing a painting of a painting; the effect works
because the two images resemble one another so closely in
both subject and color.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                             13

Interpreting images as compositions

Elements like line, shape, light and color give form to the
settings, figures, and objects that make up an image. These
components comprise the subject matter or composition of
the image. The arrangements of the subject matter allow us
to discuss the composition and its significance.

Consider “People in the Sun,” by Edward Hopper printed on
page 000 and in color on our CD.

We can look at the figures in the chairs in terms of their
placement within the image. By placing the figures below
the range of hills and the lone figure of the man reading a
book slightly below the other, a sense of distance is
created in the image.

The figures also demonstrate how arrangement can create
patterns and variety in the composition. The figures in the
front row all share similar postures. They also alternate
between men and women. The man with the book fits but also
varies from this pattern. The relationships that are
created by the pattern and the subtle variations create
motifs (recurring elements) that allow us to discuss
possible themes and messages in the image.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              14

The compositions in photography also demonstrate patterns
and thematic motifs. With photography, we must overcome the
tendency to assume that the camera acts as an objective
lens that reproduces reality. Instead, we should consider
the choices a photographer makes in selecting or arranging
subjects and the implications of those choices. William
Eggleston’s Arkansas on page 000 represents a shot that has
been selected for not only its visual impact, but also for
its emotional appeal.

William Eggleston Horse

Thinking of images as compositions opens avenues for us to
begin to develop interpretations of them. We can bring our
critical thinking and literary analysis skills to bear as
we conduct readings of images. We might ask about the
settings or characters that we discover in a composition.
We can consider relationships between elements and draw
conclusions about them. Consider the man and woman in
Picasso’s “Frugal Repast” or the man reading the book in
“People in the Sun”: What are their stories and how can
exploring them help us understand the composition of the

Checklist for Evaluating Art and Images
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              15

     Consider the medium of a work of art. Relate the piece
     to other works that use similar materials. Explore the
     techniques in the work that are specific to the medium
     in which it is produced as well as those that cut
     across media.

     Note the use of lines and shapes. Examine the quality
     of lines in a work, looking at their thickness and
     continuity and the ways they create shapes. Consider
     how combinations of lines and shapers create shading
     and texture.

     Evaluate the uses of light. Consider how light draws
     the viewer’s eye to particulars in a work. Look at how
     light creates contrasts and patterns.

     Examine the significance of color. Consider the
     qualities of color and how cool, warm, dark, or bright
     colors affect the mood of a painting.

     Consider the textures of a work. Think about the
     impressions created by textures. Examine variations in
     texture and note the significance of any shifts of
     textures in a work.

     Determine where the principles of art can be seen in
     the work. Notice areas of emphasis. Consider balance
     and proportion. Consider the levels of coherence in a
     work. Explore the significance of all of these
     principles as they are revealed in the piece.

     Interpret the composition of a work. Examine the
     figures in a composition and imagine their
     characteristics and stories. Consider the significance
     of objects in a work. Ask how the background or
     setting influences the composition.

     Explore the possible meanings of imagery and motifs.
     Search for recurring elements of themes that emerge in
     a work. Consider the possible symbolism of objects or
     figures. Determine what you believe to be the most
     significant messages conveyed by the work.

(You can view these images in color along with a number of
other works on our CD.)
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                        16

Sandro Botticelli The Birth of Venus
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                      17

Grant Wood “American Gothic” (1930
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                    18

Maricopa Child Edward Curtis Library of Congress
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                19

Allan Rohan Crite “Sunlight and Shadow” 1941
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                         20

George Tooker “The Waiting Room” 1959
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              21

Edward Weston Rubber Dummy, Metro Goldwyn Mayer


As with film, music, literature, or other forms of
expression, art requires writers to discuss both formal and
thematic elements. In addition, art asks writers to think
historically, considering the contexts in which works
originate and the perspectives of the artists who created
them. As you write about works of art you can refer to the
elements and principles discusses above to analyze and draw
conclusions about what you see. (You can also find more
terms and definitions about elements of art on our CD and
Web site.)

You may be asked to compose a formal analysis of a work of
art. Sometimes you may be asked to simply describe in
detail the formal elements of a work. In many analyses,
however, you will create an argument about how a work of
art uses formal elements and principles to create an
impression and convey a message. In these assignments, you
must read the details, looking at how the formal elements
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              22

represent a significant artistic example or relate to
themes and imagery. You might move from larger descriptions
of the composition to more detailed discussion of specific
elements of art. You might describe the painting from one
side to the other. A thesis should guide your formal
analysis so that as you analyze the details of an image,
you lead your reader toward an important point that you
wish to make.

You may also write about the social or historical aspects
of art. These connections can include key concerns that
might have informed the culture in which a piece of art
originated or biographical information about an artist that
helps us understand her or his work. You might explore how
notions of order can be seen in the subjects and artistic
elements of Renaissance painting. This kind of exploration
is sometimes called a stylistic analysis (meaning it looks
at a work in terms of the shared techniques of a type of
art such as impressionism).

You will likely wish to conduct research to better
understand the history and context of a work of art. You
might try the Grove Dictionary or Art Online if your
library provides it. You can find more art research
resources on our Web site. As with other kinds of writing
about context, you must apply care in drawing conclusion
based simply on historical information. Don’t assume that
art automatically reflects its history. Instead, begin with
a thesis demonstrating a significant historical or
biographical concern and discuss concrete evidence from the
work that speaks to that concern.

If your instructor asks you to use MLA format when writing
about art you should use underlining indicate the title of
a work in the body of your paper. In your references
provide the name and location of the institution that
houses or the individual owner of the piece of art, as in
the example below:

     Crite, Allan Rohan. Sunlight and Shadow. Smithsonian
     American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Exercise 12.2 Writing a Formal Analysis
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              23

     Select a work or art from this chapter or on our CD
     and compose a formal analysis that demonstrates how
     the work appeals to your senses and conveys a message.

     Begin by exploring the work freely to find an approach
     that will guide your analysis. You might start with
     your impressions to understand the kinds of appeals
     the work has to your emotions. You might explore key
     imagery or themes. Spend as much time as it takes to
     develop a thesis statement about the meaning of the

     Next, explore the formal elements of the work.
     Consider how principles of art such as patterns,
     emphasis, balance, and coherence work to further the
     message of the work. Examine elements of art such as
     color, contrast, light, value, texture, shape, and
     line. Sketch an outline detailing how you can discuss
     these formal elements in terms of your thesis.

     Finally, compose a one to two page analysis that
     states your thesis and discusses in detail how the
     formal elements of the work convey meaning.

Exercise 12.3 Writing an Art History Paper

     Examine a work of art in this chapter or on our CD in
     terms of its historical or social context.

     Begin by exploring the key themes and imagery of a
     work to develop an impression of its most significant
     messages. Consider those messages in terms of the time
     and place in which the work was created. Explore key
     concerns representative of the work’s context—you
     might think about important trends and events or about
     issues of class, gender, politics, psychology,
     communication, etc. Select a historical concern that
     interests you and that can be discussed in terms of
     the piece of art.

     Conduct research about this historical concern and
     this work. Use resources for researching art available
     from your library to learn what others have said about
     the work. Conduct Library and Internet research to
     learn more about the historical concern you are
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              24

     Next, brainstorm an argument discussing how the work
     of art relates to the historical concern you have
     selected. Consider what you know about the reception
     the work might have received in terms of the
     historical concern you are exploring. Determine which
     aspects of the work reflect that concern. Develop a
     thesis that articulates a way of understanding the
     work in terms of the concern.

     Finally, compose a three to five page argument
     explaining how the work relates to the historical
     concern. Combine your knowledge of the historical
     issue with formal analysis of the painting to make the
     claims that will support your argument. Use evidence
     from your research and from the work to support your
     points. Be sure to document your research using the
     style outlined above or specified by your instructor.

Writing Literature About Art

Many authors have also use works of art as an opportunity
to write creatively. In addition to providing a ready
subject for expression, writing creatively about a work of
art asks you find an approach to the work that strikes you
on a personal level. You must then study the details of a
work as you compose. Consider the paired poems and works of
art on the following pages. (You can see full color
versions of these painting and other pairs of poems and
works of art on our CD.)
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                      25

Cezanne's Ports
Allen Ginsberg

In the foreground we see time and life
swept in a race
toward the left hand side of the picture
where shore meets shore.

But that meeting place
isn't represented;
it doesn't occur on the canvas.

For the other side of the bay
is Heaven and Eternity,
with a bleak white haze over its mountains.

And the immense water of L'Estaque is a go-between
for minute rowboats.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT           26

Three for the Mona Lisa
John Stone


It is not what she did
at 10 o'clock
last evening

accounts for the smile

It is
that she plans
to do it again
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT        27



Only the mouth
all those years

letting on.


It's not the mouth

it's not the eyes
exactly either

it's not even
exactly a smile

But, whatever,
I second the motion.

Early Sunday Morning
John Stone
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                       28

Somewhere in the next block
someone may be practicing the flute
but not here

where the entrances
to four stores are dark
the awnings rolled in

nothing open for business
Across the second story
ten faceless windows

In the foreground
a barber pole, a fire hydrant
as if there could ever again

be hair to cut
fire to burn
And far off, still low

in the imagined East
the sun that is again
right on time

adding to the Chinese red
of the building
despite which color

I do not believe
the day
is going to be hot

It was I think
on just such a day
it is on just such a morning

that every Edward Hopper
finishes, puts down his brush
as if to say

As important
as what is

is what is not.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                      29

Girl Powdering Her Neck
Cathy Song

The light is the inside
sheen of an oyster shell,
sponged with talc and vapor,
moisture from a bath.

A pair of slippers
are placed outside
the rice-paper doors.
She kneels at a low table
in the room,
her legs folded beneath her
as she sits on a buckwheat pillow.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                         30

Her hair is black
with hints of red,
the color of seaweed
spread over rocks.

Morning begins the ritual
wheel of the body,
the application of translucent skins.
She practices pleasure:
the pressure of three fingertips
applying powder.
Fingerprints of pollen
some other hand will trace.

The peach-dyed kimono
patterned with maple leaves
drifting across the silk,
falls from right to left
in a diagonal, revealing
the nape of her neck
and the curve of a shoulder
like the slope of a hill
set deep in snow in a country
of huge white solemn birds.
Her face appears in the mirror,
a reflection in a winter pond,
rising to meet itself.

She dips a corner of her sleeve
like a brush into water
to wipe the mirror;
she is about to paint herself.
The eyes narrow
in a moment of self-scrutiny.
The mouth parts
as if desiring to disturb
the placid plum face;
break the symmetry of silence.
But the berry-stained lips,
stenciled into the mask of beauty,
do not speak.

Two chrysanthemums
touch in the middle of the lake
and drift apart.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                           31

These poems about painting represent several writers
readings of an image. In some instances, images and writing
are more closely related, as in advertising images (see
below) the works of William Blake in which poems and art
combined to create a pictoral composition of words and
images, as in the poem “The Shepherd” on page 000. (You can
explore more of Blake’s work on pages 000-00 and on our CD-
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              32

The Shepherd William Blake (Lessing J. Rosenwald
Collection, The Library of Congress )

Exercise 12.4 Imagining Compositions

     Working on your own or with a group of peers, tell the
     story of one of the characters in the images in this
     chapter or on our CD.

     Begin by examining the image and looking at elements
     of the composition. Think about the setting that is
     displayed in the image. Look at any objects that might
     help tell the story.

     Next, examine the characters and sketch out ideas
     about what traits they might have. Select a character
     that you believe to be the protagonist and consider
     how other characters might relate to him or her.

     Then, imagine a plot that would explain how the
     protagonist got to the situation in which he or she is
     portrayed in the painting. Alternatively, you might
     imagine forward and tell the story of what is about to
     happen to one of the characters. Create an outline for
     a story that introduces the character, builds tension
     and complication, and concludes with the moment
     depicted in the painting or a resolution in the

     Finally, using your sense of the setting and
     characters, use your outline to draft one or more
     pages that tell the story of the protagonist.

     (If you or your instructor prefers, you may compose a
     poem that describes the image you have chosen and the
     either tells the story of one or more of the
     characters or conveys a feeling present in the image.)


In contemporary society, visual images play as significant
a role in communication as ever. The most prevalent of
these cultural images can be found in advertisement in the
popular media. A number of scholars and organizations
investigate how these images relate to attitudes and
culture. (See the resources on or CD for examples and
information about media scholarship.) As we investigate
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              33

these images, we can apply what we know about rhetorical
situations (that is speakers and their purposes, audiences,
and contexts) to analyses of advertisements. We can also
consider what we know about the ways that elements and
principles of art convey meanings and appeal to our senses.

Considering the rhetorical situation of advertisements

Communication never takes place in a vacuum. Rather,
individuals or entities act as speakers to produce
communication with a specific purpose and target that
communication to an audience. Both these speakers and their
audiences are also shaped by the historical contexts they
inhabit. All of these factors shape the way that messages
are produced and received. We can analyze aspects of this
situation to better understand popular images.

Consider the controversies regarding images used to
advertise tobacco. How would you describe the target
audience for the message conveyed by the “Joe Camel” image
on page 000? Some have suggested that using a cartoon
character to advertise cigarettes reveals that the target
audience for the advertisement is children (A report on
logo recognition indicated that more than half of children
ages 3-6 in a study associated the image of “Joe Camel”
with cigarettes.)

In a 1998 settlement, tobacco companies agreed not to
promote products to minors (The Joe Camel campaign ended in
1997). Still, public health officials and others have
argued that while U.S. laws prohibit selling (or even
advertising) tobacco products to anyone under the age of
eighteen, advertisements use images designed to appeal to
teenage consumers. Further, companies still place
advertisements in magazines like Rolling Stone or Sports
Illustrate or in prominent places in convenient stores. We
can think of the readers for such magazines or the
demographics of those that frequent convenience stores to
get a better sense of the possible audiences for such
images. (See the information on or CD for more on tobacco
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              34

Joe Camel Advertisement

We can also evaluate the speaker or entity producing images
and about the rhetorical techniques used by these speakers.
As we do so, we should remember the role of purpose as it
relates to the rhetorical situation. Just as images do not
exist in a vacuum, they are not created without a goal. Our
understanding of the producer of a message helps us to
explore the possible motivations behind them. We can also
examine how images used rhetorical techniques to achieve
those purposes.

Consider how the advertisement against fishing on page 000
prompts us to think about the speaker and purposes behind
the image. The ad is meant to raise our awareness of
cruelty to fish by evoking our sympathies with the dog in
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                           35

the image. Knowing something about the entity that produced
the advertisement helps us understand the purpose behind
the image. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
(PETA) takes an activist stance against animal cruelty and
pushes people to consider the impacts of our actions on
animals and to treat animals with standards much like those
we use to relate to other humans.

We can see how the add fulfills that purpose using
rhetorical techniques expressed in the image. On the level
of logic, we might question the tendency of PETA to equate
humans and animals or we might debate the merits of
equating mammals with fish. The advertising image, however,
achieves its purpose primarily through rhetorical
techniques designed to appeal to our emotions. The image of
the fishhook poking through the cheek of the fluffy dog
evokes our sympathies and helps the ad deliver its message.

Considering advertising images and their messages

Most advertising images rely on appeals to our senses; Many
also include words that provoke thought but the primary
means of persuasion is usually based on emotion. Further,
many advertising images try to tap into ideas that permeate
the psyche of their audience. Because these images play and
call upon these emotions and idea, they provide an
illuminating lens studying aspects of the culture in which
they are produced and consumed.

Think about the image from a Body Shop advertising campaign
reproduced on on page 000.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                                                              36

Body Shop “Ruby” advertisement

What does the image say about the roles of men and women in
contemporary culture? What does it say about the nature of
the ideal woman? What does it say about consumer culture?
As we consider images, we must assess the relationship
between culture and representations in advertisement and
media images? We must consider to what extent the images
not only reflect but also reshape the attitudes of the
audience for which they are intended.

We can also analyze the speakers and purposes behind the
messages. In many instances the primary purpose of such
advertisements is to increase sales and make a profit. But
in doing so, images may achieve a number of related goals
such as associating a product with a feeling or idea like
sexiness, power, or beauty. Consider this excerpt from a
chat conversation a group of students conducted as they
analyzed the image:

    Catherine Hernandez > I think it is a great ad for the body shop because the products they
    sell are to make everyone feel beautiful
    Julie Woods > most people know that the average person doesn't look like the women in
    Samantha Billings > But women want to look like a supermodel, they want to be attractive,
    they don't want to look to obesity as a model
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                                                                37

    Adam Marshall> co. are always looking for different angles to work in advertising. this is
    comedic and true
    Catherine Hernandez > but we are still made to feel like we should look like the women in
    Samantha Billings > I'm not sayiung that you have to look like a supermodel to be
    Rene Bishop > I just think it is trying to be realistic
    Brenda Williams > are we still doing the doll?
    Julie Woods > but supermodels are supermodels for a reason and people who only think
    that they are attractive if they look like a supermodel have their own issues
    Ronald Gains > perhaps they make more money b/c the viewer likes the thought that the
    body shop is a "good" corporation by thinking they care about these social values. when in
    reality all their products are made in china...
    Bridget Allen > i dont like it
    Greg Casperson > its just like the barbie idea
    Bridget Allen > no its not
    Brenda Williams > I think the public desires the "role" models
    Bridget Allen > barbies have perfect bodies
    Greg Casperson > everyone wants a more realistic image
    Kamala Vira > to sell products they're trying to relate to the most consumers, which is the
    the 3 billion who don't look like supermodels, they're not using a real woman's perspective
    to appeal to her, so she buys their product
    Ronald Gains > i've been in one, MADE IN CHINA is stamped on every bottle of shampoo,
    lotion, etc...
    Brenda Williams > as inspiration
    Greg Casperson > yes, but the issue lately was a realistic barbie
    Catherine Hernandez > society makes you feel this way, I don't think it is fair to say you
    have issues if you want to look this way
    Bridget Allen > well according to whatever society tells us is perfect
    Julie Woods > I don't think you can blame the media for people wanting to look like
    Brenda Williams > yes you can
    Brenda Williams > but you have to blame the ppl too
    Samantha Billings > Probably a great deal, if we look back in history when Rubens was
    painting, the idea of a voluptuous woman was seen as the ideal because he painted them
    inn a glorious light
    Greg Casperson > is there something wrong with being healthy?
    Bridget Allen > i dont want to look like a supermodel but i dont want to look like that either
    Tamara Wilson > no you can't the media plays a role but people are far to impressionable
    Adam Marshall> people need to think for themselves
    Brenda Williams > I want to look like a supermopdel
    Traci Bridgeman > The media definitely plays a role, because when the images flash on tv
    in remote places, then anorexia suddenly shows up. Like it is now a factor in China.
    Brenda Williams > lol
    Julie Woods > i don't feel pressured by magazines to look like a supermodel
    Adam Marshall> it plays a role but isn't to blame
    Frank Conner > all companies are motivated by money, that's it
    Samantha Billings > I feel the pressure
    Kamala Vira > i'ts just to balance out all those pics of the skinny, flawless models with
    something real
    Greg Casperson > i agree
    Rene Bishop > I think that society does put a great deal of influence on our generation
    through ads, but i think that people are starting to realize this and this ad is an example of
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              38

Our arguments about and deliberations on images like these
ask us to consider how those association key concerns such
as gender roles, the status of women and men, and health.
Compare the Body Shop image with the image advertising
Moschino Jeans on page 000. To what extent do the images
tap into similar ideas that permeate culture? What do the
differences between the two images say about the speakers
or entities that produce them or the audiences that receive

Moschino Jeans Advertisement


You can explore and practice writing about advertising
images below. We have provided a number of images, but you
can also find many more by conducting Internet searches.
You can also find more images and student discussions on
our CD. On our CD you can and read and see video clips from
the work of scholars like Jean Kilbourne, who studies
advertising and issues of culture.
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                39

Candie’s Shoes Advertisement
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                    40

Yves Saint Laurent Advertisement

Spoof Ad from
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                   41

Schiaffo Ad from
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT      42

Tommy Fragrance Ad
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT               43

Spoof Ad from
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT              44

Truth Ad from Calvin Klein
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                           45

Spoof Ad from

Exercise 12.5 Brainstorming about an advertising image

    Working on your own or in a group, choose an advertising
    image from this chapter or on our CD-ROM. Once you have
    selected an image open a word processor document or take
    out some note paper and respond to the variations of the
    journalist’s questions printed below.

    Who and Where: Who is the speaker or entity that has
    created the image? What characteristics can you come up
    with the describe the speaker. Who is the audience that
    the image is aimed at? How would you characterize the
    audience? Where does the audience for the image reside?
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                           46

    How does this location influence the image? Write freely
    for two to three minutes about this prompt.

    What and Why: What message is the image sending? In
    addition to advertising a product, what ideas does the
    image promote? Why does the image take the approach that
    it does? Why might it be successful or unsuccessful.
    Write freely for two to three minutes.

    How: How does the image deliver its message? What formal
    elements of art are used to create meaning? How does the
    image appeal to your senses? Does it use logic,
    emotions, or some other strategies to convey its
    message? How do you think viewers will respond? Write
    freely for two or three minutes.

Exercise 12.6 Writing about Advertising Images

    Write a three to five page paper in which you analyze
    one or more advertising images in terms of the
    strategies they use to convey meaning and their
    relationship to a trend or concern in society--you
    might, for instance, look at images used to market
    designer clothing in terms or social issues of body
    image and health. You might also look at issues such as
    violence, self esteem, social groups, consumers and
    labor practices, substance abuse, or some other issue
    related to the image you discuss.

    You will need to conduct reseach into the social issue
    you are exploring. You can refer to the Web sites and
    resources for this Chapter on our CD for information
    about research, or conduct research using the strategies
    outlined in Chapter X.

    In your paper provide a thesis that will organize your
    work and narrow your focus--for instance, problems with
    teen anorexia cannot be attributed solely to fashion
    advertising. Then construct an essay that explains your
    thesis by discussing the social issue and analyzes the
    advertising images for the messages they convey.

    As you analyze the images, be sure to look at aspects of
    their form, imagery, and themes. Just as you might when
    analyzing a work of art, explain how the formal
    elements of the image create a visual message for
    readers. You may want to analyze more than one image to
NMWL Ch12 DRAFT                                              47

    make your point, but don't go overboard with more than
    three or so images--better to discuss fewer images in

    Document the images and sources that you use following
    the conventions outlined in Appendix XX.

Shared By: