Art Debate: Art vs. Advertising

Can art be advertising? Can advertising be art? What is the relationship between the two?

As color photography grew in popularity, artists themselves were thinking about this very question, as seen in Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America. They produced photographs for magazines, or were paid by companies like Kodak to take pictures. Although this often gave artists access to the latest materials and provided them with income, advertising companies could be very specific with how they wanted their product photographed. What is the difference between art and advertising?

Divide your students into two groups for this activity and have them discuss both sides of this issue and debate the pros and cons. Each group should be assigned a side: art can be advertising; art cannot be advertising.

Each group should decide what the pros of its side are, what the cons of the other are, and then share them in a class debate. Invite other teachers to judge the winning team.

To make this activity a unit, check out this lesson plan on student debates from the University of Illinois.