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?

lady with selfie

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.

 

One day with the VIP’s of London

A very exciting week lies behind us. We were out taking selfies with the Windsor’s at the National Portrait Gallery, we were continuing our cat trail and were amazed by the Surrealists at the Tate Modern.

With all these impressions we thought we will start poetic into the new week. Can you guess with which famous person we started our hunt for famous Londoners?

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

No, we did not turn our focus on bigger felines. Are the bells ringing? Yes, we have been visiting William Blake, known not just for one of his most famous poem “The Tyger”. And where else would we find him than at the National Portrait Gallery, London?

William Blake by Thomas Phillips oil on canvas, 1807 On display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery NPG 212

William Blake by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1807
On display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery

He is sharing Room Number 18 with another rather famous literary person. (Who he looks rather scared at) Can you guess by the quote below?

“The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own.”

Not quiet? Maybe something more obvious?

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Of course we are talking about Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by Richard Rothwell oil on canvas, exhibited 1840

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
by Richard Rothwell
oil on canvas, exhibited 1840

And because the best things come in threes: Who am I to forget THE most famous writer of the UK? I’ll make it easy this time to avoid any reminiscing of past school days.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Yes, Shakespeare is part of our personal ArtGuru collection. Maybe he is asking that questions about himself too.By the way, the snazzy golden earring he is wearing is a status symbol (different to what we might think today). It was also used to blog the entry holes of the body from the evil spirits.

 

associated with John Taylor oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1600-1610

associated with John Taylor
oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1600-1610

After all this literature we felt like something more down to earth. So we went for someone who took us the fear of being in a plane during a thunderstorm. (I can only speak for myself here). Michael Faraday. Born in the now London Borough of Southwark, Faraday went on to become one of the most regarded scientists in his field.

Michael Faraday by Thomas Phillips oil on canvas, 1841-1842

Michael Faraday
by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1841-1842

Faraday’s portrait is hanging right next to another scientist. The Scottish chemist Thomas Graham, who died in London in 1869. He was the founder of the Chemical Society in London and the one who discovered dialysis.

Thomas Graham by Wilhelm Trautschold oil on canvas, 1850-1875

Thomas Graham by Wilhelm Trautschold
oil on canvas, 1850-1875

 

 

Our last stop before heading out into the London fog are the leaders of the country. On the 24th of January it was his 50th anniversary of his death. To follow the route of this blog I have seem to have taken, here is a quote:

“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

It is not this guy from last weekend who thought he was very funny. It is: Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill by Walter Richard Sickert oil on canvas, 1927

Winston Churchill by Walter Richard Sickert
oil on canvas, 1927

And to round it all up our selection of the weird and wonderful of the London population, who could I not miss out after my selfie last week?

You are right: The Royal Family. We selected two paintings by the artists Bryan Organ and one all time classic by Oswald Birley.

Prince Charles by Bryan Organ acrylic on canvas, 1980

Prince Charles by Bryan Organ
acrylic on canvas, 1980

Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ acrylic on canvas, 1981

Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ
acrylic on canvas, 1981

King George V by Sir Oswald Birley oil on canvas, circa 1933

King George V by Sir Oswald Birley
oil on canvas, circa 1933

 

But there are certainly more out there. We could not add anymore. After all this collecting our gallery looks like that:

IMG_0221

 

And there will be many more. Maybe you can guess who we will be featuring next week.

Let us know who you found and share it with us either via our Twitter account (@artguruapp) or follow us on Facebook.

If you have any recommendations of what you would like to see next, write us.