What Does Social Distancing NOT Look Like? Here Are 31 Artworks That Show People Who are Definitely Doing It Wrong

But do enjoy these scenes of togetherness while we're all so far apart.

Alex Prager, Face in the Crowd (2013). © 2013, Alex Prager.
Alex Prager, Face in the Crowd (2013). © 2013, Alex Prager.

Social distancing. It’s a phrase you never heard before maybe four weeks ago and now you’re intimately aware of precisely what it means. It’s our new normal.

But art history is full of pictures of people not social distancing—of parties, family gatherings, intimate embraces, fist fights, operas, sports (remember sports?), and casual personal exchanges. Which are all off limits for the foreseeable future.

Revisiting these works brings on a slightly strange feeling. Are you people crazy? But it’s also a chance to remember what it was like when we could all gather without fear, which is a reality we’re all looking forward to getting back to as soon as is (medically) possible.

 

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
(1884–86)

Georges Seurat, A Sunday on Le Grande Jatte (1884-86). Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago.

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–86). Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Robert Longo, White Riot (1982)

Robert Longo, <em>White Riot</em> (1982). Courtesy of the Broad, Los Angeles.

Robert Longo, White Riot (1982). Courtesy of the Broad, Los Angeles.

 

Mary Cassatt, Madame Meerson and Her Daughter (1899)

Mary Cassatt, <em>Madame Meerson and Her Daughter</em> (1899). Image courtesy Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Mary Cassatt, Madame Meerson and Her Daughter (1899). Image courtesy Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Tom Friedman, Cocktail Party (2015)

Tom Friedman, Cocktail Party (2015). Photo ©Tom Friedman, courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Tom Friedman, Cocktail Party (2015). Photo ©Tom Friedman, courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

 

Spencer Tunick, Space, NYC (1999)

Spencer Tunick, <em>Space, NYC</em> (1999), from the "Reaction Zone" series. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Spencer Tunick, Space, NYC (1999), from the “Reaction Zone” series. Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

Paula Rego, The Dance (1998)

Paula Rego, <i>The Dance</i> (1998). Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Gallery.

Paula Rego, The Dance (1998). Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Gallery.

 

Andreas Gursky, Board of Trade II (1998)

Andreas Gursky, <i>Board of Trade II</i> (1998). Courtesy of Tate Museums.

Andreas Gursky, Board of Trade II (1998). Courtesy of Tate Museums.

 

Janine Antoni, Mortar and Pestle (1999)

Janine Antoni, <em>Mortar and Pestle</em> (1999). Photo ©Janine Antoni courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

Janine Antoni, Mortar and Pestle (1999). Photo ©Janine Antoni courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

 

Jan Steen, Beware of Luxury (1663)

Jan Steen, Beware of Luxury (1663). Courtesy Kunsthistorisches Museum.

 

Weegee, Their First Murder (1945)

Weegee, <em>Their First Murder</em> (1945). Photo courtesy of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Weegee, Their First Murder (1945). Photo courtesy of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

 

The Rochester Bestiary (1225–1250)

The Rochester Bestiary (1225–1250). Courtesy of the British Library.

The Rochester Bestiary (1225–1250). Courtesy of the British Library.

 

Nicole Eisenman, Another Green World (2015)

Nicole Eisenman, Another Green World (2015). Courtesy the artist and Anton Kern Gallery.

 

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Youth of Bacchus (1884)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, <i>The Youth of Bacchus</i> (1884). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Youth of Bacchus (1884). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Allison Zuckerman, Altarpiece (2018)

Alison Zuckerman, <i>Altarpiece</i> (2018). Courtesy of the artist and Kravets Wehby Gallery.

Allison Zuckerman, Altarpiece (2018). Courtesy of the artist and Kravets Wehby Gallery.

 

Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel’s (1921)

Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel's (1921). Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer.

Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel’s (1921). Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer.

 

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line) (2018)

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, <em>Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line)</em>, 2018. Courtesy of Nino Mier Gallery.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Dutchess County Border (Matriarchs of the 90’s Line), 2018. Courtesy of Nino Mier Gallery.

 

Diego Rivera, Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita (1931)

Diego Rivera, <em>Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita</em> (1931). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1936. ©2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York.

Diego Rivera, Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita (1931). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1936. ©2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York.

 

Edward Burne-Jones, A Vision of Angels (1873)

Edward Coley Burne-Jones, <em>A Vision of Angels</em> (1873). Photo by George P. Landow, courtesy of St. Paul's within the Walls, Rome.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones, A Vision of Angels (1873). Photo by George P. Landow, courtesy of St. Paul’s within the Walls, Rome.

 

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wedding Dance in the Open Air (1607–14)

Pieter Brueghel the Younger Wedding Dance in the Open Air (1607-1614). Photo ©Holburne Museum Photograph by Dominic Brown

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wedding Dance in the Open Air (1607–14). Photo ©Holburne Museum Photograph by Dominic Brown.

 

Lubaina Himid, Naming the Money (2004)

Lubaina Himid, Naming the Money (2004), detail. Photo by Stuart Whipps, courtesy the artist, Hollybush Gardens and National Museums Liverpool, International Slavery Museum. Navigation Charts installation view, 2017 © Spike Island, Bristol.

 

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)

Pablo PicassoLes Demoiselles d'Avignon(1907). Photo wikipedia

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

 

Myrlande Constant, Rasanbleman soupe tout eskòt yo (2019)

Myrlande Constant, Rasanbleman soupe tout eskòt yo (2019) Courtesy of Faena Art, photo: Oriol Tarridas.

Myrlande Constant, Rasanbleman soupe tout eskòt yo (2019) Courtesy of Faena Art, photo: Oriol Tarridas.

 

Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy (1964)

Carolee Schneemann, <em>Meat Joy</eM> (1964). Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy (1964). Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

 

Peter Paul Rubens, The Calydonian Boar Hunt (circa 1611–12)

 Peter Paul Rubens, <em>The Calydonian Boar Hunt</em> (circa 1611–12). Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Calydonian Boar Hunt (circa 1611–12). Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

 

Raphael, The School of Athens (1509–11)

Raphael, <em>The School of Athens</em> (1509–11). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Raphael, The School of Athens (1509–11). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Marina Abramović and Ulay, Imponderabilia (1977) 

Marina Abramović and Ulay, Imponderabilia (1977). Photo courtesy of Marina Abramović/Sean Kelly Galery, New York.

Marina Abramović and Ulay, Imponderabilia (1977). Photo courtesy of Marina Abramović/Sean Kelly Galery, New York.

 

Nicolas Poussin, The Abduction of the Sabine Women (1634–35)

Nicolas Poussin, The Abduction of the Sabine Women (1634–35). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nicolas Poussin, The Abduction of the Sabine Women (1634–35). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Red Grooms, The Bus (1995)

Red Grooms, The Bus (1995) at Frieze New York from Marlborough gallery, for sale for $550,000. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Red Grooms, The Bus (1995) at Frieze New York from Marlborough gallery, for sale for $550,000. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

 

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera (circa 1482)

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera(circa 1482). Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera (circa 1482). Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

 

Canyon Castator, Tipping Point (2016)

Canyon Castator, Tipping Point (2016)

Canyon Castator, Tipping Point (2016). Courtesy of Postmasters.

 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, <em>Bal du moulin de la Galette</em> (1876). Photo courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876). Photo courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


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