• Todd Gray

    Oct 25| Lectures

    Todd Gray was born in 1954 in Los Angeles. Gray received an MFA and a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and is currently a professor at California State University, Long Beach. He has shown performance work at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater), Los Angeles (2010); California African American Museum, Los Angeles (2009); the Commons, New York University (2008); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2008); New Renaissance Theater, Syracuse, NY (2007); and Academy of Media Arts, Cologne (2004).

  • Ruby Neri is a sculptor, painter, and former street artist from San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, known for her evocative portrayal of horses.

  • Otis in NYC
    October 27, 2016 
    6 - 8 pm 
    Franklin Parrasch Gallery
    53 East 64 Street
    New York, NY 10065

    Otis College President Bruce W. Ferguson is coming to NYC! 
    Please come say hello and visit with your fellow alumni and friends of Otis College of Art and Design.
    Drinks and hors d'oeuvres.


  • Lecture takes place at 356 S. Mission Rd., co-presented with Ben Maltz Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition Polly Apfelbaum: Face (Geometry) (Naked) Eyes.

    New York-based critic and independent curator Bob Nickas presents his musings on one hundred paintings, choosing one from each year from 1915-2015.

  • Bob Nickas

    Oct 31| Lectures

    Bob Nickas is a critic and independent curator based in New York, having organized more than ninety exhibitions since 1984.
    He was Curatorial Advisor at P.S.1/MoMA in New York between 2004-07, where his exhibitions include: 
    Lee Lozano: Drawn From Life; 
    William Gedney—Christopher Wool: Into the Night; 
    Stephen Shore: American Surfaces; 
    Wolfgang Tillmans: Freedom From The Known. 

  • Looking at the recent works of Sebastian Stumpf one finds an interplay between performance and the recording of performance, between the execution of a physical act and the documentation of it by means of a camera. [He] operates in two distinct realms: in the empty spaces of contemporary art institutions and in urban settings with their preexisting orders. […] An inconspicuous architectural detail suddenly becomes the catalyst for a physical exploit…. The art gallery becomes a space for action.

  • Passionate Voices Expressed in Sound Bearing Plastic: An Evening with Collector Richard Shelton


How to Clarify Your Topic

NOTE: Although the principles of searching are still true, this guide has not been updated since 2000.

Before you begin a research project, you will need to clarify your search terms or concepts. Each project is completely different and will require critical thinking skills. Clarification is the first phase of a Search Strategy.

Suppose you are asked to write a paper about the semiotics of advertising. You think the Benetton ad campaigns are a possibility.

  • The term Benetton refers to a specific company.
  • The concept advertising can be searched using other terms, such as ads or advertisement. You could also narrow your topic by limiting your search to billboard, TV, or magazine ads.
  • The term semiotics is only used in very academic writing and you may not find it used in magazines or newspapers. You may choose not to use the term at all in your search, but use synonyms instead, like symbol or popular culture.

A first step might be to do some preliminary browsing in a periodical database in order to discover  how much has been published on the topic and what other terms have been used which related to your topic.

Study the following citations found in Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and Lexis-Nexis. They were found by simply entering one term, Benetton, as a keyword. Notice the other terms or related topics which could be good alternative ideas for a paper on semiotics of advertising. Notice especially which terms are used in the subject fields.

TITLE: How colorful can ads get?.  (Benetton's United Colors campaign) 
SOURCE: Mother Jones v. 15 (Jan. '90) p. 52 IL 
ABSTRACT: A panel of staffers from Essence, a magazine for black women, recently rejected a Benetton advertisement that depicted a black woman nursing a white infant.  According to Essence president Clarence O. Smith, the image has a negative connotation in the United States because black American women were once forced to nurse white people's children while their own went hungry.  The ad has not appeared in the United States or the United Kingdom, but Benetton has used it in 77 other countries. 
SUBJECT: Benetton Spa 
Clothing industry - Advertising.
Blacks in advertising.

LIB benetton1

Image from the Benetton website.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 4, 2000, Friday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION
SECTION: NEWS, Pg. A1 LENGTH: 1248 words
BODY [lead paragraphs]: The ad campaign has outraged relatives of the murder victims; the clothing company says it is providing social commentary
   Benetton, the Italian fashion company known for its colorful knitwear and controversial sales pitches, is showcasing death row inmates from Missouri and 
Illinois as part of its latest $ 20 million advertising campaign. [Etc.]

LIB benetton2   LIB benetton2b

Images from the Benetton website

TITLE: Through the lenses of gender and ethnicity.  (Benetton's United Colors ad campaign criticized in Toronto's Globe and mail) 
SOURCE: Maclean's v. 104 (May 27 '91) p. 15 IL 
ABSTRACT: A recent column by Kate Taylor in the Toronto Globe and Mail about an ad campaign by the Benetton chain of clothing stores is utter nonsense.  Taylor criticizes ads that use photographs of children of different races wearing brightly colored Benetton clothes in the belief that the ads "trivialize issues of race" and that the campaign "ignores the complexities of  racial issues."  According to her, being colorblind in Canada is wrong.  She thinks that the ideal that people could love each other and not notice skin color is now too simplistic. If Taylor had her way, people would look at each other through the lenses of gender and ethnicity.  Although Canada is obsessed with color, ethnicity, and religion, the country should be colorblind when children pose in ads to sell sweaters. 
SUBJECT: Benetton Spa 
Globe and mail (Toronto, Ont.) 
Clothing industry - Advertising.
Blacks in advertising.
Canada  - Race relations.

LIB benetton3
Image from the Benetton website

TITLE: Fear and clothing in L.A.  (Benetton billboards showing firebombed car taken down during the riots) 
SOURCE: The Humanist v. 52 (Sept./Oct. '92) p. 45-6 
ABSTRACT: Just 2 days before the Los Angeles riots, Benetton billboards were erected in Los Angeles that showed an image of a firebombed car.  In response to the riots, the trendy clothing manufacturer decided to take down the billboards, an event that was documented by camera crews from CNN.  The exploding car ad, which was supposedly meant to signify the social issue of terrorism, was an offensive publicity stunt along the lines of a previous Benetton ad depicting a man dying from AIDS. These ad campaigns trivialize and exploit pressing social issues by reducing them to simplistic images that can be used to sell merchandise. 
SUBJECT: BenettonSpa
Terrorism in advertising.
Clothing industry - Advertising.
Los Angeles (Calif.)  - Riots, 1992 - Economic aspects.

LIB benetton4

Image from the Benetton website

TITLE: Shock value.  (Benetton's ad campaigns) 
SOURCE: New York v. 25 (Aug. 24 '92) p. 26+ IL 
ABSTRACT: Since 1983, few of Benetton's ads have escaped protest, but the company's new ads are not as pugnacious or risky as their predecessors.  The new ad campaign, which is the Italian clothing retailer's second campaign of the year, is still arresting.  According to Benetton creative director Oliviero Toscani, the new ads continue to feature strong images, but they are more ambiguous.  The subjects of the new campaign and past Benetton campaigns are discussed. 
SUBJECT: Benetton Spa 
Clothing industry - Advertising.

LIB benetton5

Image from the Benetton website

TITLE: Normally gay.  (Ikea's TV spots feature gay couple) 
SOURCE: New York v. 27 (Apr. 4 '94) p. 24+ IL 
ABSTRACT: The Ikea TV advertisement that features a gay couple is intelligent and human.  The spot depicts 2 men shopping for a dining room table as a symbol of their commitment to each other. Unlike print ads from Benetton and Banana Republic featuring gays, which aimed to shock, Ikea's ad is a casual reality bite. 
SUBJECT: IKEA Svenska Forsaljnings AB. 
Furniture stores - Advertising. 
Homosexuality in advertising.

LIB benetton6


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