What Would Monet Post? The Musée d’Orsay Hired an Instagram Artist-in-Residence to Imagine the Social Media Accounts of Impressionist Masters

Illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme's posts will appear on the museum's account every Monday in 2020.

Jean-Philippe Delhomme's first illustration as the new Instagram artist in residence at the Musée d'Orsay. Courtesy of the artist.

The Musée d’Orsay is launching a new project to bring more visibility to its centuries-old artists via the ‘gram. 

The Paris museum, which boasts an unrivaled collection of Impressionist paintings, has named illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme as its inaugural Instagram artist in residence. For the job, Delhomme will take over the Orsay’s account every Monday in 2020 to post an illustration depicting the museum’s artists as if they were alive and exhibiting today.

The first drawing, published yesterday, assumes the imaginary profile of French novelist and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans, who posts a portrait of himself supposedly done by the painter Jean-Louis Forain in 1978. “Thank you @JL.Forain for my portrait,” reads the caption accompanying the post, which is “liked” by @degas and 14 others. (Huysmans is the subject of a new exhibition at the museum, on view through March 1.)

“The aim [of the residency] is to bring these artists of the second half of the 19th century closer by enrolling them in today’s interactions,” Orsay president Laurence des Cars told Le Figaro. “The idea is not to desecrate works, but rather to draw attention to a particular moment in an artist’s biography, the issues or the novelty of a painting, and through contemporary commentaries fictitious or not, to evoke the adhesions or antagonisms aroused.”

Delhomme, who splits his time between the US and France, has published his witty sketches in the New Yorker, Vogue, and W, among many others since the late 1980s. He famously illustrated Glenn O’Brien’s GQ column “The Style Guy” for a decade.  

Delhomme’s Musée d’Orsay residency is an extension of a larger book project, Artists’ Instagrams, The Never Seen Instagrams of the Greatest Artists, published last year by August Editions. In the book he imagines the profiles of some of the world’s all-time greats: Mondrian (@mondrian.piet) brags about the rectilinearity of his new Ikea kitchen, while Giacometti (@a_giacometti) invents the “felt cute might delete later” meme and Gauguin (@gauguin) goes full thirst trap in the form of a nude portrait of women with the caption “About last night…” 

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