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This month, “Art Everywhere” took over static and digital billboards all over the US in nearly 50,000 locations to showcase 58 artworks by American artists. The program was first started by Richard Reed in the UK last year. This first edition of an American version employed the cooperation of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Works by Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, James Rosenquist, Chuck Close, Ed Ruscha, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, and more, were voted on by the public, starting last April. We spoke with the Dallas Museum of Art’s director Max Anderson about “Art Everywhere.”
WHITEWALL: “Art Everywhere” was originally conceived in the UK, what inspired you to bring the project to the US?
MAX ANDERSON: The idea was hatched by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), and it was exciting to plan how it could be undertaken in the U.S.
WW: Nighthawks by Edward Hopperreceived the most votes of the 100 works nominated by museums. What do you think it is about Nighthawks that made it the popular choice? Was there anything about the voting results that surprised you?
MA: Nighthawks conjures up the romance of the big city at night, the love of the diner, in a cool, naturalistic, intriguing image. It’s quintessentially American.
WW: Do you have a favorite work from the selection? Or a work you wish you could have included?
MA: As an art museum director, I can’t choose among my children! Overall I’m very pleased with the selection, which fairly represents the evolution of American art from the colonial era to the present.
WW: “Art Everywhere” is a huge undertaking in many ways. What was the greatest challenge you faced?
MA: It went so smoothly—thanks to the generosity and hard work of many. The hardest part was at the beginning: choosing 20 examples from among the Dallas Museum of Art’s 6,000-plus American artworks.
WW: How are you hoping people will react to seeing major works of art during their daily commutes?
MA: I’d love to imagine trivia quizzes among car pools, kids counting examples from the school bus, and families on a shopping trip noting their favorites.
WW: How do you imagine artists such as Stuart or Whistler would react to the project?
MA: Stuart might wonder how prints of his works could ever get that big, while Whistler might squint at a billboard given his near-sightedness. That said, many other artists would have a less complicated, celebratory reaction like the rest of us.