Outdoor Advertisements Across the U.S. Will Soon Be Replaced With Fine Art


Everyday we're assaulted by an endless stream of advertisements — on our computers, on our phones, on billboards — many of which are completely irrelevant to us. This summer, the campaign Art Everywhere will give us a break from this marketing barrage by replacing ads on billboards, bus stops and subway platforms across the U.S. with works of fine art. Five of America's most important art museums have selected a total of 100 works of art, and it's up to the public to vote to narrow it down to the 50 pieces that will be displayed. Aside from being a brilliant campaign, the images of art rather than ads will provide a much needed creative respite for our commercially over-saturated brains. Imagine Jasper Johns greeting you at the bustop, rather than an advertisement for razors.

"Three Flags" by Jasper Johns. Wikimedia Commons.

Last summer, Art Everywhere launched in the UK, filling 22,000 poster sites with great works of British art, from "The Lady of Shallot" by John William Waterhouse to "Head VI" by Francis Bacon. In addition to billboards, subway posters and bus shelters, an estimated 2,000 London buses and 1,000 black cabs prominently displayed the paintings. Though the UK initiative lasted only two weeks — from August 12-25 — as much as 90% of the adult population encountered a work of art thanks to the initiative. It was a success.

Image credit: Facebook

Richard Reed, who organized the Art Everywhere initiative, called it "a joyful project with no agenda other than to flood our streets with art and celebrate the creative talents and legacy of the UK".

Art Everywhere / The Making of from 101 London on Vimeo.

The idea is catching on globally, and more and more people are engaged by the prospect of encountering great works of art on the street where once there were ads. French street artist Étienne Lavie carried out a guerrilla art project called "OMG Who Stole My Ads?" which replaced advertisements on Paris streets and in subway stations with French masterpieces.

Photo credit: Etienne Lavie

The U.S. initiative will run for the entire month of August and include iconic locations like Times Square, Route 66 and Sunset Boulevard. The artworks will be selected from the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, the National Gallery in Washington DC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Dallas Museum of Art. The pieces of art span the entire course of U.S. history, from the Revolutionary War to the present. 

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper is one of the paintings nominated for the Art Everywhere initiative. Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine subway posters near the Flatiron Building replaced by Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"a billboard in Times Square replaced by "Three Flags" by Jasper Johns and a bus stop ad replaced by a portrait of George Washington. In addition to these, you could be seeing paintings and photographs by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keefe, Cindy Sherman and many others. Imagine a world where art is what we look at all day, not ads.

You can vote for 10 works of art everyday until May 7.