While New York galleries prepare for their yearly snooze, the rest of America is about to get a major art infusion, thanks to Art Everywhere US. The stateside iteration of Art Everywhere UK, which began in mid-July, the project will place works of art voted on by the public in spaces that would typically be occupied by advertisements. Organizers are calling it “the largest art show ever conceived,” and beginning on August 4th, look out for slices of art history occupying highways, bus stops, and shopping centers near you.
But the most fascinating aspect of the project is witnessing the 58 pieces our fellow Americans selected from the original list of 100 (which was put forward by experts at leading museums including The Whitney Museum of American Art and The National Gallery) to represent the cornerstones of American art. The list is heavy with works from the late 1800s and early– to mid–1900s, and thins out considerably after the 1960s. The sole piece from the past 20 years to make the cut is Cindy Sherman’s Untitled from 2008. If we’re to take this list as any indication, the American public is drawn to rugged landscapes and beautiful children, and values work that has an historical theme.
Unsurprisingly, Edward Hopper’s oft-parodied Nighthawks received the most votes, probably due to its iconic status and “Anytown, USA” feel. Other selections range from Gilbert Stuart’s 1821 portrait of George Washington (kind of a snoozer) to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can (duh). Notable works included on the longlist but not selected by voters are Catherine Opie’s Self-Portrait/Cutting, Ed Ruscha’s Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, and Samuel J. Miller’s portrait of Frederick Douglass.