Essay about Analysis of Oliviero Toscani’s “Tongues” Photo for United Colors of Benetton

Words: 1360
Pages: 6

Visual Communication – Individual Assignment
Student: Loredana Patricia Pădureanu
Analysis of Oliviero Toscani’s “Tongues” Photo for United Colors of Benetton

The picture chosen for analysis is one taken by Oliviero Toscani for a United Colors of Benetton campaign. The picture depicts three children – one African-American, one Caucasian and one Asian – all sticking their tongues out, from where the name of the advertisement – “Tongues”. This campaign for Benetton was launched in February 1991 and it was highly controversial. For example, “this image was deemed "pornographic" and subsequently withdrawn from display in Arab countries, where the depiction of an internal organ is prohibited” (United Colors of Benetton, 2005). This
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Most of his pictures are shocking, constituting a trademark of his work. In a CNN interview, Toscani stated that the theme to his work was “conditioned by his curiosity, he liked to get angry at things, live every day to the fullest, and that he was constantly looking for something new to gain or to believe in”. We identify here some of his conscious intentions: in the “Tongues” campaign, he shows that among the horrible things that happen in the world, there still can be youth and happiness. Children represent his hope for the future, the new, innocent generation, that thing he needs to believe in. Other characteristics of Toscani’s photographs for Benetton are that “they are almost always close-ups, they are high key, well saturated and in colour, and never feature Benetton products”, according to an article on “Tongues” makes no exception: it is also a close-up shot, no Benetton products appear and it is well saturated. Moreover, by looking at the picture, we can also idetify some of the unconscious thoughts that Toscani might have had. Since these unconscious intentions have to do with “the structure of the family and society that one was a part of” (Barnard, 2001), it is not improper for us to think that, because Toscani was brought up in a liberal environment and era, as he states in an CNN interview, the disputes about race and ethnicity are unconcievable to him. Thus the reason for using children of three different ethnic