Steal like Francis Bacon
Steal for ad's sake.
Francis Bacon didn’t go to art school.
He was self-taught, and relied heavily on stimuli and reference to help him create his art. This came in the form of photographs, stills from movies and the work of other artists. Most of it strewn across the floor and walls of his legendarily shambolic studio.
He pooled all of these references and used fragments of them to inform his pieces.
The raw materials:
Inspiration translated to the canvas:
All together now:
He also used the photographic experiments of Eadweard Muybridge extensively throughout his career:
And as well as other art, there was also some more literal reference courtesy of photographer and fellow hell-raiser John Deakin, that Bacon regularly utilised.
We all use reference in our work, but the comments section or Diet Prada isn’t coming after us all. Theft doesn’t have to be petty, done well it can be pretty spectacular…
Here’s a few advertising favourites that came to mind:
The famous Steadicam shot from Goodfellas…
Combined with a dance number from sixties Bollywood classic Gumnaam – featuring certified banger Jaan Pehechaan Ho…
Gave us Heineken’s “The Date” from 2011.
Take beloved animation, “The Snowman”…
And turn the snowman into a snow-menace who tries to nick the young lad’s Irn Bru.
Take the Human League classic “Don’t You Want Me Baby”…
And transform the song into a Fiat ad featuring a petulant man-child.
In a similar musical vein, Toshiba paraphrased the Alexei Sayle song “Ullo John Got A New Motor?”
For their campaign – “Hello Tosh, got a Toshiba?”
What’s your favourite reference or stolen cultural artifact in an ad?
Where do you find the best references?
Drop a comment or send a reply, and I’ll share next time.
Thanks for reading,
Something for your ears
For more info about Francis Bacon’s gilded gutter life, have a listen to this episode of Kunst Please featuring a story about The Colony Club and it’s infamous proprietor: