Google Art Project – Why fly to Paris when you can visit the Louvre from home?

Jonathan Jones wrote in his article Google Art Project: Almost as good as the real thing that “The Google Art Project offers a glorious and exhilarating answer: in this century, it seems, high art will be more accessible and more beautifully available to more people than ever before.”

The Google Art Project is what I’ll call an enhanced version of the “Street-view” on Google Maps. That is, it gives the viewer a virtual tour of what a person standing on a street would see. However, instead of neighborhood blocks, the Google Art Project allows viewers to observe actual art from the inside of museums.

At first glance this seems ingenious. Users now have the ability to view some of the most beautiful art in the world all from the comforts of their computer. Selected masterpieces can be viewed as macroscopic HD reproductions.  Or, more loosely translated as really, really close up and really, really high def. So close, in fact, that you’re able to see the individual brush strokes used by the artist himself.

I recognize that not all of us have the means to travel. 95% of us will never have the opportunity to see Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire or Picasso’s Guernica. And while that’s a tragedy in itself, will seeing these paintings via Google images satisfy that desire? Even if we can see them really, really closely? Is there more to art than just seeing it on your screen or is there something to be said by viewing the art live and in person?

Author: Eric Swenson


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