10 of the Worst Ads Inspired by Art


The advertising and marketing world hasn’t always been kind to the fine art world (unless you’re Andy Warhol). The line between tasteful and careless is a delicate one. Many would even call it sacrilege to shill a product by ruthlessly mining art history and changing the context of the world’s most important works. Advertising has evolved into its own art form, but there have been several instances when the union of commodity culture and fine art failed miserably. We’ve spotlighted a few of those disastrous ads past the break.

This life-size installation of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks in the Flatiron Building is part of the Whitney’s current exhibit, Hopper Drawing. Giant letters plastered across the “diner” haven’t won people over — especially the obvious Sprint logo.

We get what this art moving company was going for, but Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring wound up looking like a bizarre alien creature.

The guts of artists displayed in their signature style for an ad campaign for the MASP Art School in São Paulo by DDB Brazil. Knowing wink or just.. bad?

Is there anything more annoying than a painting of a dead artist taking a selfie?

Organization ANAD fights for a noble cause: to promote awareness about the dangers of anorexia. We’re just not sure that confronting people in public spaces with skeletal figures is a good one — especially when there could be some uncomfortable associations made with a painting of a prostitute.

Mona Lisa‘s companion looks like a total creeper. And maybe she was doing just fine on her own, dammit.

The Mona Lisa was the target of another ad — this time a contemporary version of the iconic painting for Pizza Hut, to promote their “classic Italian crust.” Sigh.

Online gambling website Paddy Power has a history of controversial ads, but this was the first time they pillaged the fine art world. The Last Supper scene was turned into a cheesy tabletop casino. The company was forced to pull their billboards after a rash of complaints.

A heartbreaking ad about abuse for the Child Health Foundation. It’s not the worst use of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (which isn’t saying a lot), but considering the overused image has been plastered on umbrellas, t-shirts, and coffee mugs, it feels a little tacky.

Applause for subtlety, but we prefer Botticelli’s masterpiece when she doesn’t look like she’s about to hack up a loogie.