Television Commercials

In television’s formative years, broadcast commercials were fertile ground for aesthetic invention, with sponsors and advertising agencies frequently turning to modern art and graphic design for inspiration. At their best, television spots—as brief as fifteen seconds, as long as a minute—were well-crafted and seductive short films designed to sell a product by capturing the attention and stoking the desire of viewers. The debt to modern art is evident in a range of campaigns, from the abstract animation of an Esso gasoline commercial to the eye-popping visuals of an Op art-inspired ad for the Kodak Instamatic camera.


(Excerpts) Television Commercials Influenced by Avant-Garde Art and Design, 1960–1970. Color and black-and-white film, digital transfer, 2 minutes, 26 seconds: Esso Gasoline, 1960; Alka-Seltzer, Miles Laboratories, 1967; Caprolan Nylon, Allied Chemical, 1966; Kodak Instamatic, 1965; Life Savers, Kraft Foods, 1966; Burlington Mills, 1970