Apollo Magazine

‘The Most Democratic Form of Art’ comes to IKEA

Forget meatballs: Swedish flatpack giant IKEA is now flogging street art.


Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.

‘Let’s celebrate street art!’, reads an item on the website of Swedish flatpack giant IKEA. And true to its word, the company has done just that; if you have the good fortune to visit Belgium this week, you may well come across some of the colourful images it has commissioned from 12 street artists projected onto the walls of local landmarks.

The rationale behind the move is simple: ‘Street art is free for anyone to enjoy’, reads the company blurb, ‘we hope that the different styles and expressions will evoke emotions in the everyday life – of everyone who loves great art’.

For a mere $14.99, limited edition prints of said ‘different styles and expressions’ can be yours to take home. One of the creations, by Chinese artist Hua Tunan, depicts an eagle soaring through the air. Pull quotes describe it as ‘free, colourful and brave’. Laudable attributes all.

IKEA describes street art as ‘the most democratic art form that exists’. Quite so. Rather less ‘democratic’, however, is the company’s approach to censoring itself. As Rakewell has mentioned in passing before, it took the peculiar move of airbrushing women from a 2012 catalogue it put together for the Saudi market, and then removed an article on a lesbian couple from the Russian edition of its in-store magazine.

The Rake scratches his head and looks back to Hua’s eagle. To say nothing of freedom or bravery, IKEA’s record on these matters is certainly ‘colourful’.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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