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Art & co

14/11/2013 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

When it was announced that Nicolas Ghesquière was taking over as head designer of Louis Vuitton last week, he mentioned that one of outgoing designer Marc Jacobs' innovations was the brand's partnerships with contemporary artists, such as Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami.

It occurred to me that the border between the worlds of art and marketing has been growing ever more blurred lately. Lady Gaga's new album is called Artpop, which she describes as a "reverse Warholian" experiment - bringing art into pop. The cover is a piece by Jeff Koons. But art has been merging with popular culture for some time.

Artists typically become brands when their work is acquired by famous collectors, who are themselves brands. It's perhaps no coincidence that three of the world's most famous collectors are masters of the art of branding: François Pinault of Kering (formerly PPR), Bernard Arnault of LVMH and, of course, Charles Saatchi. It was arguably Saatchi who first brought Damien Hirst, himself no slouch at marketing, to the attention of the public.

It seems that artists have finally decided to shrug off their traditional status of outsider and embrace mass dissemination and large audiences - and the financial advantages that go with them. The galleries and dealers, who also depend on brand reputation to attract their clients, must be rubbing their hands.

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