Films,shopping, computer games and remote working have been the in-flight norm forso long now that seemingly the strangest thing about Virgin Atlantic’s newGallery in the Air is that sky-high art exhibitions haven’t happened before. In February, the airline will offer Upper Classpassengers on its London-New York routes the opportunity to buy original,one-off artworks by the renowned British artist Ben Eine – at 35,000ft.
Eine shot to famewhen David Cameron presented one of his artworks to President Obama on hisfirst official state visit to the White House in 2010 – although the artist wasalready making a name for himself with colourful, typographic street art that brightenedcities from Los Angeles to Stockholm, London to Tokyo.
Virgin Atlantic’simaginative bid to conquer new frontiers with the world’s first commercialaerial gallery begins in the airport, where Upper Class passengers canadmire some of Eine’s contemporary canvases in the clubhouses atHeathrow, JFK and Newark. They can then enjoy an on-board, virtual gallery tour of 10 specially created artworks (£2,500 to £15,000) from the comfort oftheir seats. An accompanying shortfilm offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Eine’s creative process.
Buyerscan secure the works by placing a 25 per cent deposit with the cabin crew; Eine’s studio will then contact them within 60 days to complete the purchase and arrange directdelivery of their chosen piece.
In addition, Eine’spixilated portrait of Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson demonstrates the potential for commissions. “My philosophy through all my work,be it on canvas or on the street, is about pushing boundaries, so I jumped atthe chance to be part of the first-ever Gallery in the Air,” says Eine. “Wehave created a completely original way of appreciating and buying art – a newfrontier for the industry.”
Indeed, this is justthe start for the mile-high gallery. Plans for further on-board collaborations withrenowned artists are in the pipeline – or should that be jet stream?