This is what the ‘About’ section of the website states:
“Google Arts & Culture is a non-profit initiative. We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.”
The initiative’s pitch to museums and cultural institutions is “We can help digitize, manage, and publish your collection online, for free. With our easy-to-use tools, your stories can be told beautifully to a global audience.”
In classic Google style, they present the results of these to the end user in a simple, elegant and beautiful manner. It definitely helps that they are presently leading with an article on the “Sphinx of Delft” – the Dutch master, Vermeer.
Scroll further down and you can explore architecture, food, music as well as indulge in virtual travel. There are also articles exploring concepts in science.
I have only just started scratching the surface of this and look forward to spending more time exploring it further!
I have written briefly about how I got interested in Western Art in my previous post. While opportunities to view masterpieces of Western Art are rare in India, thanks to the Internet, it is not difficult to maintain an interest.
Recently, while visiting a house in Bangalore, I saw a print of a painting hanging on the kitchen wall. I had not seen this specific painting before, but something told me that this looks like a Vermeer painting. Thanks to smartphones and mobile Internet, a quick Search revealed that I was right. The print was of a painting by Jans Vermeer called ‘The Milkmaid‘.
I must admit that I was pleased at being able to recognise the artist. I had come across an article on Vermeer previously and am familiar with possibly his most famous work – ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring‘. I guess I must have seen this painting while reading about him, or maybe something about the style of the painting led me to the deduction. I do not know but I realised that I knew very little about this artist, so I started reading up a bit more about him.
Jans (or Johannes) Vermeer was a Dutch artist of the 17th Century. I guess it might be fair to say that when one thinks of Dutch artists, it is names like Rembrandt or Van Gogh that are more likely to come to mind. Indeed, while Vermeer did enjoy a modicum of success during his lifetime, he slipped into obscurity soon after his death. Part of the reason for this is that he did not have a large portfolio of work (only about 35 paintings are attributed to him).
This was the case till around the middle of the 19th Century when his work was ‘rediscovered’, nearly 200 years after he passed away. Since then, his reputation has grown to the extent that he is now considered as one of the masters of Dutch painting, indeed Western Art.
I gained an appreciation of art, especially visual art or paintings, from my time spent living abroad. For this, I will remain forever indebted to the fantastic Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. It was here that my wife and I had our first taste of ‘Western Art’ and we were hooked. Not only do they have a good permanent collection housed in a fabulous building in an idyllic setting, but they organise wonderful exhibitions periodically that are well worth the cost of admission. Most importantly, admission to the general galleries is free.
We were also lucky, while living in Australia, to get the chance to see some of the greatest European paintings at an exhibition organised by the National Gallery of Art, Canberra. I still vividly remember standing in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Nights’ and being moved by the intensity of the painting (fair to say I was Starry Eyed!). It was at this ‘Masterpieces from Paris‘ exhibition that I was really exposed to and intrigued by the works of Impressionist artists such as Monet, Seurat as well as others such as Degas and Gauguin.
While on a short trip to Chicago, I managed to take some time off to visit the Art Institute of Chicago where I was able admire more works from masters such as Van Gogh and Picasso.
We then moved to London where we visited The National Gallery. Unfortunately, I only visited once, not enough to form any lasting impressions.
The next highlight on our Art exposure was a visit to Paris. Yes, of course, we visited The Louvreand got a chance to admire Mona Lisa without any major crowds. What stood out for me though was the sheer scale of the museum. I would have loved to spend days there, but we only had a few days to see Paris and we had to move on to other sights.
The Musee d’Orsay is a wonderful museum. It’s of a size that does not overwhelm and sees far fewer crowds than the Louvre. Which means that one can admire its unbeatable collection of Impressionist paintings in peace and at leisure. And, of course, we saw the famous Clock.
One of the highlights of our time in Paris was definitely the visit to Musee de l’Orangerie and seeing Monet’s Water Lilies collection in the Oval rooms. An unforgettable experience.
Digital marketer, travel / culture / heritage enthusiast