An artless critique

January 27, 2006

I always thought that the point of reviews was to enter into a critical dialogue with the work under scrutiny. This is not the case with Winston Fletcher's lambasting of my book Art and Advertising ("Artful dodgy theory", January 20).

I am at a loss as to why a man of Fletcher's stature would prefer to give me a thrashing and be prepared to make wild accusations about my lack of subject knowledge and to skew the evidence to do this.

Contrary to Fletcher's claim, the book is neither imbalanced nor partisan and it wouldn't take a particularly close look at it to confirm this.

To counter another criticism, yes, I have selected key campaigns to support my arguments, on the justifiable basis of the demonstrable purchase that they have made on the culture and the connections that can be drawn with contemporary art practice. To address the totality of advertising as, Fletcher suggests, would have been inappropriate and unworkable.

Fletcher also claims the book is lacking in historical content. This is emphatically not due to a lack of historical knowledge on my part. The point of the book is to trace a complex set of interrelationships between two arenas of contemporary practice, and while there are several relevant historical trajectories in it (including one going back to the late 19th century artist/poster-makers that Fletcher claims I know nothing of), to have rehearsed the history of advertising and the poster, let alone the history of advertising and the literary arts, would not only have been beyond the scope of the book but would also have been at odds with the discursive approach that I have taken.

Joan Gibbons University of Central England

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