Selfie-Stick or no Selfie-Stick – that is apparently a big question.

I recently came across a commentary by Jonathan Jones on the Guardian website about the banning of selfie sticks in museums in the US. Now, if you follow Jones, you know he is not holding back about his opinion as an art critic, but this time he has touched a pretty sensitive topic: how should one experience art? And more crucial: with what?

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His commentary comes at a time when discussions are reaching boiling point about one device that got suddenly popular after last Christmas: The selfie-stick.

The selfie-stick has divided the nation, like no other invention during the last years. It became the Marmite of our digital world: you either love it or hate it. If you live in London and walked through central in the last couple of weeks, you have seen them: individuals or groups taking selfies in front of London’s attraction with selfie sticks. You can argue that the selfie stick is just another physical add-on to photography enthusiast, just like the extra lenses and tiny tripods. But never have I seen such a discussion on- and offline about a simple plastic stick.

The selfie-stick started out as a novelty. One of these presents you rather hide at home but are still kind of intrigued to use. Sales went rocket high during last Christmas, and out of a sudden, the once so embarrassing selfie sticks are popping up everywhere. And with them the restrictions of using them.

During the last week, leading museums in the USA have banned visitors from using selfie sticks, three weeks after the very successful #Museumselfie day in January. But the digital officer of the Met Museums in New York assured in an interview with Mashable that they are not against selfies, just against selfie sticks. Using your arm is still allowed. And along comes the question: How do we experience art in an age of such fast paced technological developments? And what is right and what is wrong?

Jones writes in his commentary that “There is nothing wrong with the traditional idea of the museum as a place of hushed severity” and that “museums should ban, one by one, all the contemporary intrusions that disrupt the authority of great art, from photography to loudmouthed tour guides.”

But can museums do that? And should they? Taking pictures in museums goes along strict policies. In central Europe, Germany for example, taking pictures in museums is still forbidden. So by allowing visitors to take pictures, have museums over here already opened up to the new developments of our time?

Paintings have become celebrities in their own right. Every major museum is having at least one Blockbuster exhibition every year, trying to draw in the masses with names they are familiar with: Warhol, Rubens, Picasso, Polke. Artists, they feel, everyone needs to see at least once in their life. (Something we could discuss in length all over again).  But how much can we take home with us? The feeling, the emotions, we felt when looking at a print of the Campbell Soup? Or something more tangible? Maybe a photo we took, with or without ourselves on it. Something we can share once we are at home, on social media platforms, with our relatives all over the world: We were here.

And that is when ArtGuru came along. We encourage everyone to take pictures in museums wherever they can and wherever they are allowed to do so. And we understand the social aspect of visiting a museums. Unlike Jones, we feel art is active, alive and does not need ultimate silence to be enjoyed. If the artist listened to Jazz, then why don’t we? If we feel touched by a painting, why not share it? (with or without your own face on it). ArtGuru can make just that possible, while still recognising the artist and title of the picture. And for that you don’t need a selfie-stick. That still works ‘manual’.

We won’t change that.

 

Entering the Surreal – Discovering Dalí

As you may have seen it on Twitter, we have finally left the National Gallery. We had a great time. But nevertheless, it was time to move on.  And boy, we went far, not only in London mileage but also in the art-time-dimension.  While we enjoyed the Impressionists it was time to go hunting for something more surreal. And we have found in the Tate Modern on the other side of the Thames. After nearly losing our way in the escalator maze we found Salvador Dalí and his painting Mountain Lake.

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2014

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2014

Like many of Dalí’s painting it is not what it seems at first. The lake itself can be seen as a fish. Questions arise by the disconnected phone, associated by some with the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. But also personal emotions played a role, as Dalí’s parents have visited the lake before he was born. Soon we are fascinated by this painting transporting us into a world so strange and far away from our own but still being able to tell a story we all seem to connect with.

We are lucky enough to snap a picture of it as well as scanning it in with ArtGuru. It gives us the possibility to take Dalí’s story with us as well as sharing it with people who might not be able to come to the Tate Modern anytime soon.

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And if there any more special Surrealists exhibition, you will know. Not from the app just yet, but by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

We have also tried the beta version of the app on an IPod with iOS8. Feedback on this will be available on the next blog. So if you don’t have an IPhone but an IPod or IPad this might be interesting for you. We will also tell you which museums in London do have a working Wifi-connection.

The next weeks will get exiting for ArtGuru. We go hunting for new artworks and paintings in London as well as introducing you to new ways to look at art with ArtGuru. Get to know your capital and its art in a totally new way. So stay tuned. We’ll be back.

 

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Impressing Impressionist Artist – Claude Monet

Came here through Twitter? Followed our latest tweets? Yes? Than you might know where we have been this week. For anyone else: We did not wander far. We barely made it three rooms from our last blog entry but it could not be much more different than Peter Paul Rubens. This week we are with the Impressionists, and to be more precise, with Monet. Since September the National Gallery is exhibiting new work from Monet, from his famous “Water Lilly Pond” to “Flood Waters”

We went for one of his more famous works: The Water-Lily Pond, to test the new beta-version of ArtGuru. And the result was astounding. Monet, different to Rubens, is known for his plein-air painting style, capturing nature in its true colours. And even though his pictures are drawn with a wider brush style, ArtGuru was able to recognise the painting immediately. We quickly added The Water-Lily Pond to our personal gallery, ready to share it with you.

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If you want to test out ArtGuru for yourself on a Monet and are in London next March, then be sure to visit the National Gallery, as they will be holding a major Monet exhibition in 2015.

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And if you want to see more works from the Impressionists movement, ArtGuru is soon able to remind you that the National Gallery is planning a major exhibition about the Impressionist movement in May 2015. There is a lot to look forward to this year.

If you are in London this year, make sure you visit the National Gallery. And if you have an IPhone, IPod or IPad with iOS7 or higher than send us an email to info@artguru.me and you could be our next beta-tester, exploring the art world of London your way.

 

I hope you had a good start into the New Year. The team of ArtGuru wishes you all the best for 2015.

 

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Art History abolished in Italian high schools? Are you kidding me?

Bloggokin

BloggokinItalian blog bloggokin.it reported the news of Art History being apparently abolished from the syllabus of Italian high schools.

The article has gathered–understandably–a small crowd of people, concerned for the future of Art History in Italy, with its author (a graphic designer) creating a satirical ‘campaign to save the arts’ (see the photo by bloggokin.it) and highlighting the paradox of something like this happening in a country like Italy, which is home to many of the most famous artists in the world.

The news would come after years of reforms at the expense of the teaching of Humanities in Italian high schools. Students, teachers and art lovers alike, should be rightly worried.

Fortunately though, it’s not true. Government sources had already denied the rumours, but the president of the National Association of High School Teachers has recently shed some light on the matter: the number of Art History classes has indeed been cut down, but only in Professional and Technical high schools.

In Classic high schools, which focus on classical studies and humanities, the new new number of hours has been actually increased from 4 to 6 weekly hours.

So it’s not good news all-around, but it’s probably the best we could ask after years of recession that saw Italian schools and universities hit the hardest.