• 08.22.13

Art Takes Over Ad Space In The World’s Largest Public Exhibit

The streets of the United Kingdom are looking a little more artistic than usual right now. That’s because the “Art Everywhere” project has put up replicas of famous paintings at thousands of outdoor ad sites across the nation.

We’ve reported previously on incidents of “brandalism,” where artists have appropriated outdoor advertising space in the name of subverting all that consumerist propaganda. We’ve also covered the work of street artists who’ve used unexpected images and locations to challenge other institutions, like the Olympics or Disney princesses.


Now, in the U.K., there’s a project under way that’s taking over ad space with unexpected imagery, but this time it’s all legit.

“Art Everywhere” is a new project that transforms outdoor posters in London, Liverpool, and beyond into the world’s largest art show. Spearheaded by pop art pioneer Sir Peter Blake–perhaps most famous for creating the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover art–the project places prints of famous works of art on tens of thousands of poster sites across the U.K. for two weeks leading up to August 25. With collaborators like Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, the Art Fund, and ad companies Clearchannel and JC Decaux, Sir Peter unveiled his own early 1980s work, The Meeting or Have a Nice Day Mr Hockney, on a huge billboard at Westfield London Shopping Centre to kick off the project.

These works of art will appear on sites ranging from billboards to bus stops; on high streets, major roads, tube stations; and all manner of markets. The public selected the paintings from the national collection of British art; they include pieces from 19th-century painters like Turner and Whistler, 20th-century painters like Francis Bacon and John Singer Sargent, and even more recent, the work of Damien Hirst.
In a nationwide poll to decide which paintings to feature, the one that received the most votes was the 1888 pre-Raphaelite painting, “The Lady of Shalott.”

Have a look through some images from the event in the slides above.

H/t to Creative Visual Art

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.