Erase like Robert Rauschenburg
Erase for ad's sake
One day in the early 1950s, Robert Rauschenberg asked the most celebrated artist of the period -Willem De-Kooning- if he could have one of his artworks.
He was in the midst of trying to create a work of art that consisted of another work of art; erased. But it didn’t make sense with his own pieces, the artwork to be erased had to be of some greater value and meaning. And at the time, there were few more adored than De-Kooning.
After a bit of convincing ( a bottle of Jack Daniels was involved), De-Kooning relented, and Rauschenberg proceeded to shock the art world by exhibiting a blank piece of paper entitled ‘Erased De-Kooning’.
The piece questioned artistic ownership, the very nature of art, and importantly for us showed how powerful it can be to remove something from a piece of work.
It’s also one of the finest examples of modern art to illicit the tiresome refrain:
“My kid could have done that”.
Nothing to see here.
As this piece proved, there’s power in extreme simplicity.
So what’s the least we could show in a piece of advertising? The absolute bare minimum of visual cues to get the audience to pay attention, and get what we’re trying to say.
It doesn’t have to be cold, stark, minimalism. Remember Coco Chanel’s maxim, to “remove one item from your ensemble” before leaving the house.
How much could we get away with removing from our work?
Here’s some great ads that did a lot with a little:
It helps when your product is as easily identifiable as a pint of the black stuff.
Imagination is a powerful thing. We can always nudge people into finishing the work for us in their heads.
If you’ve got a great brand colour, why not turn up volume on it and make everything else quietly confident…
Lovely bit of negative space.
If you could only have one talent and one location, could you find your greatness?
Do you have a favourite ad that said less and showed more?
Drop a comment, send a reply – and I’ll share next time.
Thanks for reading,
Erase and rewind
Want to hear Robert Rauschenburg rubbing one out? Check out this episode of Kunst Please
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