1.8 Million Works of Art, Free, Online, So What?

May 18, 2016. New Post Goes Up Each Wednesday, by Jack Dziamba

"Mrs. Fiske-Warren (Gretchen Osgood) and her Daughter Rachel," John Singer Sargent.

“Mrs. Fiske-Warren (Gretchen Osgood) and her Daughter Rachel,” John Singer Sargent.

Fine Art – On the Brink of a Paradigm Change

The New Media via the internet has induced a paradigm change in the way we view and experience art.  As we wrote in the Purpose Page of this blog,

“THE BOOK, both print and even current versions of the electronic reader, are already near artifacts. Book publishing is in the death throes of the last century, bound up in static, linear publications.”

“[However], the technology of the new media has developed to such a degree of creativity and innovation that Alice Rawsthorn, in the New York Times of November 28, 2010 observed that,

“‘These devices offer thrilling possibilities for us to do much more than read words on a screen, and it is deeply disappointing that so few designers and publishers are embracing them.”‘

“At the same time, the Fine Art community, artists, museums, and developers have risen to the challenges and opportunities of new media. [which] enable artists and art lovers to experience art in the most comprehensive and dynamic ways. Just as the iPod changed the shape of the music industry, the Fine Art … is on the brink of a paradigm change. “

Has the Paradigm Change Occurred?

The short answer is “yes.” The long answer is “yes.” “We have written a number of pieces on e-museums on how museums have adopted New Media technology to their purpose of making art accessible. These prior posts included,

‘”the Van Gogh Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, both the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. Overall, we continue to believe that museums are in the forefront of adapting New Media technology to their mission (see the blog piece, “e- Museums Leave e-Books in the Dust – A View from Two  Different Centuries“’.

The Google Art Project – A New Dynamic

The Google Art Project introduced a new dynamic in viewing Art which we call “Art without Words.”  Just as Andre Malraux, before the internet,  envisioned  a museum without walls, “E-MUSEUMS: ANDRE MALRAUX’S “MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS,” The Google Art Project brought that concept to reality in the internet age.

As described by Derek Allen, Malraux’s concept of the musée imag­inaire is that,

“Given that the breadth and diversity of today’s world of art far surpasses the capacities of any single art museum, or even two or three, and that many of the objects are in any case not moveable, the musée imaginaire is our imaginary coll­ection of all the works, both inside and outside art mus­eums, that we today regard as important works of art.” (Source: “E-MUSEUMS: ANDRE MALRAUX’S “MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS.”

The Google Art Project consists entirely of Art as a Visual Experience. This means, “without text”,  without the pernicious “wall texts,”  and without the “pre recorded commentary”, but presents just the art itself, allowing viewers to experience and interpret the art through their own visual reactions and interpretations.

Thus, in our view, the Google Art Project marks a paradigm change because it presents art as “Art,” and not as Art History.” This makes it possible to view the art as long as one wants, enlarge it to detail not able to bees seen in the traditional museum setting, and without crowds. This is a critical difference.  Try this with Mrs. Fiske Warren (Gretchen Osgood) and Her Daughter Rachel 1903, by John Singer Sargent, featured above, and see how much more the visual experience is enhanced, here, over the view in a museum.

Now, 1.8 Million Works of Art, Free

From Open Culture’s Post, 1.8 Million Free Works of Art from World-Class Museums: A Meta List of Great Art Available Online,

“The vast collections in the virtual galleries listed below await your visit, with close to 2,000,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, books, and more. See the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum … See Van Gogh’s many self-portraits and vivid, swirling landscapes at The Van Gogh Museum. Visit the Asian art collection at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries. Or see Vassily Kandinsky’s dazzling abstract compositions at the Guggenheim.”

“And below the list of galleries, find links to online collections of several hundred art books to read online or download. Continue to watch this space: We’ll add to both of these lists as more and more collections come online.”

“Art Images from Museums & Libraries

2 comments on “1.8 Million Works of Art, Free, Online, So What?

  1. Fantastic article & list of museums with work online. Thank you Jack!

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