There are few things more visually assaulting than a billboard-size advertisement hocking slim-fit jeans, razor-thin tablets or cold-activated beer cans. The large signs, hovering on the sides of skyscrapers and the edges of interstates, are usually eyesores in an otherwise pleasing urban or rural landscape. We could think of a thousand things more worthy of a 50-foot long public canvas -- namely, real art.
Thankfully, a new campaign called "Art Everywhere" seems to agree. Organized by five American art museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the project will take the form of a nationwide public art exhibition hosted on the blank spaces of 50,000 billboard and poster displays. It will bring around 50 famous artworks from the museum's archives -- like Grant Wood's "American Gothic" or Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" -- to the outdoor spaces of the United States, and we couldn't be more pleased.
Roy Lichtenstein, Cold Shoulder, 1963. Oil and magna on canvas. 68 1/2 x 48 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Robert H. Halff through the Modern and Contemporary Art Council (M.2005.38.5). Photo courtesy of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, by Kevin Ryan.
The project originally began in the UK, celebrating British masterpieces on 22,000 public spaces. Following the success of that campaign, Art Everywhere is launching a US version, with participating museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum. “This is going to be art everywhere for free," the National Gallery's Chief of Press and Public Information Deborah Ziska explained to Hyperallergic, "it’s something we [NGA] already do in Washington every day.”
Set for the summer of 2014, the exhibition of American artists encourages audiences to choose which paintings and photographs they'd like to see on the sides of bus stops or subway stations in a few months. All you have to do is visit the Art Everywhere US site and vote on your 10 favorite pieces. From those votes, 50 total artworks will be selected for displays, welcoming everyone from Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman to the wide open frames of the advertising world.
Check out a preview of the 10 famous artworks we'd rather see on billboards below. And let us know which iconic images you're voting for in the comments.