Marketplace metaphors: communicating authenticity through visual imagery



Freathy P & Thomas I (2015) Marketplace metaphors: communicating authenticity through visual imagery. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 18 (2), pp. 178-194.

While the concept of authenticity is commonly linked to the market exchange process, it also assists in the pursuit of political, social and economic objectives. Authenticity provides a legitimating function that serves the needs of specific groups and individuals. Establishing authenticity remains culturally and contextually dependent and requires an understanding of prevailing power relationships and historical events. This is demonstrated by reference to a series of sixteenth and seventeenth century images of retailing and the marketplace. Using iconological interpretive techniques, the paper identifies how works of art served a propagandist role designed to influence and modify public opinion. Developments in both production and consumption led to a commodification of artistic works and afforded a means of communication that both challenged and empowered established institutions. The paper highlights the contemporary significance of these findings and suggests that modern marketing imagery may seek to authenticate socio-political as well as economic meaning.

Authenticity; Iconology; Art; Retail; Genre painting; Symbolism

Consumption, Markets and Culture: Volume 18, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online29/10/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor Paul Freathy
Professor Paul Freathy

Professor, Marketing & Retail