“Is the experience of an art gallery fundamentally different than the experience of a supermarket ?”
Nick Bell asks this question in “The Steam Roller of Branding” regarding the issue of “branding culture”, especially art galleries as the Tate, Barbican and the Whitechapel Gallery. It is very interesting to examine the approach of early 60’s Pop artists to the very same question. The Brillo soap pad boxes, Campbell’s soup packaging and the Heinz tomato ketchup box were all made between 1962-1964 by Andy Warhol. All of these art works were created with industial production methods such as screen print, and address the question of the separation of art from mass culture. These works contain a very strong message about the consumer society and its hunger for more. In my opinion Andy Warhol was saying that the art galleries of that period were to “clean” and “rich” and by creating a “supermarket” experience in the gallery he draws a new line between art and consuming. This is the very same line that disturbs Nick Bell.
“they believe their customers need to be lured to look at art with a mode of address they understand from spending time in the supermarket”
I think that Artist like Andy Warhol changed the art scene and turned it to what it is today, there is no doubt it is an aesthetic and spiritual sensation to see art work in a gallery, but it is also a consuming experience. While visiting a gallery, how many times did you say to yourself “I would hang this piece on my beautiful exposed brick wall – if I could afford it”. To me, Nick Bell’s message is the opposite of Andy Warhol’s. While Andy Warhol’s attitude is art is fun, art can deliver a message, lets mix things up, Nick Bell’s attitude is Art is serious, we cant treat it like it is business, its holy, please be gentle with the branding. I prefer the first approach, artists create art, and then they sell it, I see no reason treating an art gallery (graphically) differently than any other institution, (Yes, including a supermarket) as long as the graphic identity delivers the content of the institution.