Selfie lovers come one, come all; today is Museum Selfie Day, back for its second iteration. The website Culturalthemes, which was created by a group of museum professionals, proclaimed the event for the first time last year, and it caught on. Today, the site’s purveyors urge you to scamper around town taking photographs with a work of art, a museum edifice, or both at the same time, whilst hopping around in circles on one foot.
Of course, Culturalthemes didn’t start the trend of taking selfies in museums. Nearly 17,000 images on Instagram are currently tagged with the hashtag #artselfie. Earlier this year, Beyonce and Jay Z created a cyberspace frenzy with their visual social media tributes to Picasso, Leonardo, and Warhol. And museum security guards are sprouting grey hairs trying to ward off photo-grubbing Instagrammers from galleries in which photography is prohibited. The artworks themselves have even turned the proverbial tables with @museumofselfies, an Instagram account dedicated to famous works of art “taking” selfies. In this deluge, one must ask, does the ego-madness know no end?
Perhaps the most pertinent question was posed by a Facebook user: How will this be unlike any other day? Yesterday, today, tomorrow and into a dark-holed future, selfies, museum or otherwise, have become ubiquitous fixtures of modern life, just ask the editors of the Oxford English Dictionaries who proclaimed “selfie” the word of the year in 2013 when its usage jumped in frequency to over 17,000 per cent during the preceding 12 months. The selfie has claimed its narcissistic throne in what seems to be an ephemera of culture here to stay.
Artselfies, however, take on a new dimension altogether. They seem to be part of a burgeoning compulsion to appropriate, or render accessible, high art (see Ways of Seeing Instagram). The nascent ability to become part of an artwork, or even, manipulate it, is a powerful development. Customizing widely recognized pictures or cultural icons beckons a formula à la Andy Warhol or Tom Wesselmann, though the instruments may be less sophisticated. How exhilarating to know a $20 million Kandinsky is within our reach and can also be a personalized part of our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter pages—an outside pawn in our self-promotion.
Having said all this, we have decided to throw in the towel and bequeath some artselfie inspiration because, really, that photograph of your face with a Monet peeking through the bottom right hand corner should garner at least 100 likes. Here are the most coveted selfie spots in New York:
- Get lost in Toulouse-Lautrec’s seedy french nightlife—The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters at the MoMA
- Look austere in front of Madame Cézanne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Go on a mini-whirlwind with Pousette-Dart’s monochromatic spheres at Pace Gallery
- Flirt with Wang Jianwei’s Time Temple at the Guggenheim
- Blend into Thomas Hart Benton’s iconic mural America Today at the Met
- Wear something colorful for Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs at the MoMA
- Mark the 400th Anniversary of El Greco’s Death at the Frick Collection
We are expecting some creative and proof-worthy snaps, because isn’t that really the biting question: if there is no museum selfie, did you even really go?
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