APG Artist Placement Group
Introduction Overview Chronology Bibliography A-Z of People
Installation shot of the Industrial Board Room from 'Art and Economics'.

Installation shot of the Industrial Board Room from Art and Economics, an APG exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, London in 1971-2. © APG/Tate Archive.


The idea of Artist Placement stemmed from a group of UK artists, and was guided by John Latham and initiated by Barbara Steveni, who were experimenting with radical new forms of art. Directed by Steveni, the APG pioneered the concept of art in the social context. From the outset their notion of ‘placement’ acknowledged the marginalised position of the artist and sought to improve the situation. By enabling artists to engage actively in non-art environments, the APG shifted the function of art towards ‘decision-making’.

Acting outside the conventional art gallery system, the APG attempted, through negotiation and agreement, to place artists within industry and government departments. The artist would become involved in the day-to-day work of the organisation and be paid a salary equal to that of other employees by the host organization, while being given the new role of maintaining sufficient autonomy to acting on an open brief. These placements resulted in a variety of artists’ reports, films, photographs, interviews, poetry and art installations. Artists of international repute, such as Keith Arnatt, Ian Breakwell, Stuart Brisley, George Levantis and David Hall, had important placements or early associations with the APG.

Like many other British artists and groups working outside common frameworks, the APG had a high profile abroad, particularly in Germany. Recent years have seen an increasing recognition that the APG served as a catalyst for many artist-in-residence programmes and community schemes, both in Britain and abroad. However, the APG’s brief was always more about political, social, and long-term engagement than about parachuting artists into problem zones. Like British Pop, the APG initiated and developed an aspect of art practice long before many of its contemporaries.

Today the organisation exists as Organisation and Imagination (O + I). The name APG was changed in 1989 in order to distinguish it from the art administration’s placement schemes, set up closely along the lines of the APG’s legacy, to the group, highly problematic. O + I describes itself as ‘an independent, international artist initiative, a network consultancy and research organisation’. Its board of directors, members and specialist advisors include leading artists, civil servants, politicians, scientists, and academics from various disciplines.