Most descriptions of design jobs for galleries feature phrases like “we wanted to let the art do the talking,” and as such make the imagery the star of the show. So it takes a very brave, and rather innovative approach to go totally the other way, and instead show no imagery at all. That’s exactly what Grey London has done in its new campaign for Tate Britain, where poignant prose invites people to consider the stories behind the artworks, then view them in person to find out more.
The agency says it was looking to subvert the tradition of promoting art visually in trying to find a new audience for Tate Britain using just “powerful words.” Grey says: “Drawing people in and forcing reappraisal of art works people think they know well, the ads compel people to visit Tate Britain and see the work for themselves in a completely different context.”
The ads were art directed by Grey chairman and CCO Nils Leonard, and the copy was written by Pete Gatley, Jonas Roth and Rasmus Smith-Bech, aiming to “give us an insight into the manipulation of public image, the torture of obsessive love and the beauty of grief,” says Grey. “Each story unlocks the power behind the work in ways we can all relate to.”
The typography was selected to allow the stories to come alive and convey the emotion within the text, and is modified according to each artwork and its story. As such, the type is “proudly front and centre for Portrait of Elizabeth I, fractured and declining for Francis Bacon’s 1972 Triptych, rippling and drifting off for Millais’ Ophelia, Tate Britain’s most popular painting,” says Grey.
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