Five leading US museums came together in January 2014 with a daunting challenge: to celebrate the history of American art through 100 great works--20 each--from each of the museums’ collections.
These museums collaborated with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and artists, estates, foundations, and rights agencies to share images of these 100 works with the public. Last August, a final selection of 58 works – informed by the American public – was reproduced in tens of thousands of public spaces nationwide, including billboards, street furniture, transit hubs, and many other advertising channels.
This collaborative effort was the first of its kind in the US and followed a successful 2013 version in the UK, that was repeated in summer 2014. It afforded an unprecedented opportunity to acquaint millions of Americans and visitors to our country with some of America’s best and most memorable artworks.
The 100 artworks illustrated on this website span the history of the United States, from portraiture before and after the American Revolution in 1776, to landscapes of the 19th century, both illustrative and imagined, to scenes of daily life in the last quarter of the 1800s, to still life paintings and images of the well-to-do. Selections from the early 20th century take us to the American West through photography, to a scene from the Bible, to the emergence of abstract painting on American soil. The First World War is commemorated in colorful tributes, followed by artworks championing the centrality of the agrarian tradition and the emergence of an industrial economy.
Gritty urban scenes documenting the Great Depression are joined by an image of the Dust Bowl in the West. The genius and travails of African-Americans at that time are commemorated, along with Surrealism’s fascination with human psychology and perception. Abstract Expressionism’s explosion on the scene in the 1950s is chronicled in multiple masterpieces, a new form of artistic language that changed the rules of painting. Pop Art takes the stage in the 1960s, with several instantly recognizable images from the worlds of advertising and mass media. The decades since the 1970s are represented by the disparate forms and concerns of artists questioning the received wisdom of the past, probing topics ranging from identity politics to race to gender stereotypes.
All in all, the 100 works in Art Everywhere US bring us face to face with the story of our nation, told by the visionaries who captured our essence at the time they lived and worked, and who to this day compel us to find our place in the evolving story of America. From a stained glass window to a prairie quilt, the two-dimensional artworks in this wide-ranging selection invite reflection on the vernacular of American art, from high art to the everyday, from East to West, and from our origins to the present moment.
Art Everywhere US provided chance encounters with great works of art to reflect the story of our country, encourage everyone to visit their local museums, and start a national conversation about the importance of nurturing creativity in our schools and in our daily lives. We hope you enjoyed the biggest art exhibition in history!
Maxwell L. Anderson, Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art
Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, Art Institute of Chicago
Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Earl A. Powell III, Director, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York