CP+B's aptitude test (Image via mediabistro.com)

CP+B’s aptitude test (Image via mediabistro.com)

Normally, the stakes to this answer aren’t quite so high. The advertising agency CP+B recently administered an “aptitude test” to its art directors that included the question “What is your favorite piece of art?” and “Who is your favorite designer, art director, or artist?” Would your answer stand up to scrutiny?

The agency’s test (seen to the left) is composed of a typesetting exercise, the art quiz, and a request to tell your life story in six pictures. It’s a rigorous process, but the inclusion of the art and artist question seems funny. How, exactly, do you fail telling who your favorite artist or what your favorite work is? Do you pick the wrong person, Braque over Picasso, or the wrong piece, a van Gogh self-portrait instead of “Starry Night”?

CP+B’s aptitude test (Image via mediabistro.com)

Agency Spy originally reported that CP+B fired those art directors who didn’t pass the test, but Business Insider later discovered that the aesthetics quiz wasn’t nearly so dramatic. No one was let go; the test was more about sensibilities: “We are constantly assessing that the right people are working on the right things and this series of questions was one way to do that,” the agency’s statement said.

We’re pretty sure that this test isn’t mandatory in art museums and galleries, but maybe it should be. If it were, here’s what we think your choices might communicate about your office personality.

What Your Favorite Artist Says About You

  • Pablo Picasso: Most likely to be charged with sexual harassment
  • Louise Bourgeois: Most likely to raise pet spiders in the workplace
  • Mark Rothko: Most likely to turn all the lights off and stare into a corner
  • Marina Abramović: Most likely to spend too much time looking in the bathroom mirror
  • Andy Warhol: Most likely to decorate your cubicle with pictures of yourself

Hmm … none of those seem particularly employable. Oh well.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

2 replies on “Tell Us Who Your Favorite Artist Is or Lose Your Job”

  1. Cindy Sherman: Most likely to use the Xerox machine to make copies of your squished face.

  2. No one in the ad agency wanted to say it, but an interest in art/art-making was tacitly considered a toxic ingredient in the advertising creative Kool-Aid.

    As someone who worked as an advertising art director for many years, I was always amazed how little the art directors knew about art. Most of the successful ones were very fluent in mass market movies or TV shows as much of the inspiration for advertising comes from mass media since that’s where most of it was placed. And if you yourself were pursuing making your own art, you’d better keep it on the DL, since it was assumed that might interfere with your “dedication and passion” for making great advertising.

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