'Art Everywhere' taking British masterpieces to the streets

    9:49 AM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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    LONDON, UK (CBS) -- The world's largest art show opens this week in the United Kingdom. But you don't have to go to a museum to see it.

    In the heart of central London, a bus stop would normally be advertising things like burger chains and banks, but not today. The art of advertising has taken a back seat to works of art from names like Hockney, turner and Damien Hirst, the best and brightest of the British artworld.

    The title pretty much says it all: Art Everywhere. For the next two weeks, British masterpieces will be plastered across billboards, subway stations, bus stops, and zipping by on the sides of buses.

    The grand vision is the brainchild of British entrepreneur Richard Reed, who was walking through a rough neighborhood when something caught his eye. He says, "One day somebody had put up a beautiful piece of art on a public wall and I stopped and noticed it and fell in love with it and didn't know why it was there. I didn't know what the piece of art was but it gave me a lift as I walked down the road on my commute to work."

    First he had to convince advertising companies to give up a few prime ad spaces; and not just ten or 20 or 50 or 1,000, but 22,000 across the country. Reed says, "You're gonna be on your way to work, on the bus, on the tube, driving in and you'll see something that will hopefully give you a little lift, a little smile, a little moment."

    The 57 works of art were voted for by the British public, selected from a shortlist drawn up with the help of London's Tate Gallery.

    The top choice was The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, inspired by the poem by Alfred Tennyson.

    CBS asked the Tate's spokesman Marc Sands whether critics might see taking art out of the galleries and onto the street as cheapening it in a way. He says, "That's a great question. Yes there will be some naysayers who will think that this is an inappropriate way to view art. I could not disagree with them more. Nothing compares to seeing the real thing. We are talking today in one of the world's great art galleries. Everything you see here you can see online. Nothing beats the real thing."

    Posting artworks in 22,000 locations meant launching the biggest single shot rollout British advertising companies had ever seen. Is this selling art? Reed says, "Yeah you could argue that this is, what is this, it's actually an ad campaign for the beauty of art. That's fine with me."

    And after conquering Britain, organizers are now hoping to go global, starting with the United States. Reed says, "It is starting right here. This is day one baby. It's a CBS special, I'm talking to your viewers we need help. We need people in the U.S.to start making phone calls and start getting together a team."

    Maybe coming soon to a billboard near you! It didn't come cheap, those ad companies say they lost about $5 million in revenue. But the cost of printing and posting this art was all paid for in donations from the British public.

    Art Everywhere paid for by art lovers everywhere.


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