Google's Great Art Project
The Lazy Persons Guide to Viewing Art
If you don’t have time to travel the world but love seeing great art then Googles new on-line service is for you…
Covering 17 of the best galleries in the world, in extraordinary image detail, it allows anyone even with the biggest flight phobia to experience some the best artists and pictures ever.
Lets hope Google continue to release great services like this.
Below is a great review of the service
Google takes art lovers on a virtual grand tour
But can a digitised masterpiece possibly match being face to face with the original?
The insatiable, and mostly inspiring, efforts of never-evil Google to contain all the world on a 14-inch screen took another giant leap forward with the unveiling of the Google Art Project. Working with 17 of the world’s leading galleries and museums – from MoMA in New York to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, from the Hermitage in St Petersburg to London’s National Gallery and Tate – the project takes the corporation’s street-view technology behind closed doors. It allows you not only to wander, at the touch of a mouse, the corridors and halls that contain many of the greatest masterpieces ever made, but also to view some of those paintings in finer detail than if you were standing in front of them.
The sharp focus is made possible by 14bn pixel photography that brings the most delicate brush strokes into microscopic relief. So far, this headline-grabbing technology is restricted to one painting per gallery – Holbein’s The Ambassadors is the National’s mesmerising example, Van Gogh’s Starry Night is MoMA’s – but it seems inevitable that it will eventually illuminate far more of the collections.
The almost magical potential resource raises many questions, not the least of which is whether viewing online will ever be a substitute for the real thing. (Along with the not-insignificant supplementaries: if it is, what effect will this have on gallery attendance and on our idea of art?)
After spending a few hours on the site (yet another new way of digressing on a screen), the answer to the first part feels like a qualified no. Looking at a painting on screen, however vivid the detail, is wholly different in kind from standing in front of it. Though there is genuine wonder in the backlit clarity of the images – in Bellini’s St Francis in the Desert from the Frick Collection in New York, for example, you can make out the artist’s fingerprints in the surface of the paint – as with any reproduction, what is lost is a sense of the painting as a physical object, as a little framed force field.
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