Arts & Culture

Classical Art on the Streets of Paris

OMG, Who Stole My Ads?
TIMEApril 23, 2014

The thrust of Etienne Lavie’s new project, “OMG, Who Stole My Ads?” is simple. He replaces ads with classical art on the streets of Paris and other cities.

When first thinking of the concept, Lavie asked himself, “What if all the ads in the world were coaxing us to be patient, passionate, satisfied with what we have, deeply curious, tolerant, and eager to forgive others?”

The best way to promote these values, Etienne decided, is through art.

His idea was to change people’s notions of what life is about and reverse the effect of so much advertising on our psyche.

“So much time, energy and money are spent to push us toward a bad direction: Eat! Buy! Throw away and buy again! Don’t be satisfied! Why would you be? Each ad is selling not just a car, a phone, or a jewel, but a whole way of life based on possession and impatience,” he told the Epoch Times.

Classical art, Etienne said, can change that.

Imagine walking the city streets, and instead of looking up at the familiar billboards with companies advertising their latest products, you instead see a painting, a masterpiece?

Choosing the paintings for his project, Etienne says “is a two way quest.” A perfect spot will send him to the Louvre searching for the right painting, or vice versa.

Etienne selects the paintings that give a certain emotion and a specific feel for a certain area.

The idea, he said, “was to look for street scenes that would fit perfectly and give the artwork the right resonance.”

How exactly the undertaking is executed is a bit of a mystery, he said. “This guessing game is totally a part of my intention as an artist.”

He would want the viewer to ask about the process and how the art was placed there to involve them in the project on a contextual level.

Lavie plans for “OMG, Who Stole My Ads?” to reach out into other cities across Europe and Asia.

Follow Etienne Lavie at


Tim Gebhart