Pick Of The Picture Books: A History of Advertising, by Stéphane Pincas and Marc Loiseau

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The Independent Culture

With its cover image of a glossy, red toffee apple, about to be devoured by a glossy, red mouth, this is a book that could be briefly summarised by the maxim: sex sells. The image is taken from Lancôme's 2004 campaign for its "Juicy Wear" lipgloss, but A History of Advertising, by Stéphane Pincas and Marc Loiseau with a foreword by Maurice Lévy (Taschen, £24.99), shows that the premise has existed for a lot longer than that.

Taking as its starting point the creation of the Publicis Group in 1842, it is organised by decade. Perhaps the most surprising observation is how this most ephemeral of arts forms can outlive fashions – even generations. The Marlboro Man (born 1954), for instance, has seen out a great many smokers.

From the outset, such as in this 1900 poster for the Dutch company Ivens & Co of Amsterdam by the painter Johan G van Caspel, women were used allegorically – in this case to represent science and technology; now, often, in less whimsically intellectual ways. The achievement here is to weave a healthy cynicism about an industry essentially based on greed and unfulfilled aspiration into a book that ultimately admires advertising as an adaptable, accessible form of art.