Will Mumbai's artists find a global canvas?

Apr 16, 2012, 07:12 IST | Ruchika Kher

After the buzz around which Google Art Project was launched in India at Delhi's National Museum and National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai-based galleries are hoping for a similar partnership to provide a larger platform to artworks displayed in the maximum city

 For some time now, the media and art lovers have been going to town with the launch of The Google Art Project. This initiative is an online platform for museums from across the world to showcase their artworks. More importantly, it enables art lovers to view thousands of artworks online in a super high resolution, thus revealing their fine-grain details beyond what is visible to the naked eye. Museums and art galleries from 40 countries are under the Project’s spectrum, with New Delhi’s National Museum and National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) being the latest entrants.

(For representation purpose) Picture taken in Paris Louvre Museum of the Portrait of Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Pic / AFP

Why India?
“India has a rich cultural heritage and the country has been a witness to priceless artworks. The new expanded Art Project demonstrates our commitment to all types of art and culture across the globe,” says Amit Sood, Head of Art Project, Google. “The Art Project is no longer just about the Indian student wanting to visit Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is now also about the American student wanting to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi,” he adds.

The adapted Google Street View camera was pictured during the launch of the new Google Art Project website, at the Tate Britain gallery in London. Art lovers will be able to stroll through some of the world’s most acclaimed galleries at the click of a mouse, after Google launched a service that uses Street View technology to put the museums online. Pic / AFP

Art around the world
Indian gallery owners are pleased with this development since they feel that this step will bring their work closer to the world. “The Art Project has covered art museums across the globe and Delhi’s NGMA, the premier institution for contemporary art in India being included in the Art Project is a matter of pride. Being on a global platform shall provide viewers across the globe an insight into the collection of the museum. It will also help art lovers across the world learn about Indian art. We feel that global audience will also be attracted to visit the NGMA in person,” informs Kanika Kuthiala, Assistant Curator, NGMA.
“Art lovers and artists are not the only people who would benefit from NGMA’s inclusion, researchers shall also gain. The collection online gives a glimpse into the vast expanse of treasures that are part of the NGMA. Also the museum being rather large, many visitors do not have the time to visit the entire space. With the help of the art project visitors who have a paucity of time can identify the areas of the museum that they would like to visit,” she adds.

Mumbai-based art Gallery Lakeeren

Mumbai, next?
Although artists and Mumbai art gallery owners are happy with the inclusion of their Delhi counterparts, they hope to be part of the same platform. “I think with time, Google Art Project will look towards Mumbai art galleries too. There are some very interesting galleries in Mumbai that are showcasing great contemporary art. Being a part of this project will increase the reach,” avers Ashwin Thadani, director of Galerie Isa, a Mumbai-based art gallery.

Tarana Khubchandani of Gallery Art & Soul echoes Thadani’s views and is optimistic about the fate of the art galleries in the city: “The entire exercise is designed on a virtual model, which is what makes it so fantastic. Certainly projects such as these raise awareness and the passion for art to another level. I’m sure the Project will soon look towards Mumbai,” she confirms.

Interestingly, when we quizzed Google about their expansion plans and whether it would include Mumbai, they refrained from divulging any details at the moment. “We cannot make any forward looking statements,” admits Sood.

Canvas of hope
However, painter Samir Mondal is of the opinion that till the time the Project includes galleries in Mumbai in its scheme of things, Mumbai-based artists still have a reason to celebrate. “Inclusion of NGMA in the Project is good news, not just for Delhi artists but for artists all over India. Since NGMA is a government institution it has branches in many cities. Along with that, they showcase the best works of selected artists from across the country. Several Mumbai-based artists exhibit their works there as well. So, when NGMA’s artworks will go online, so will the artworks of artists from across the country,” he elucidates. “This way, the talent of the entire country gets a platform and not just one city,” he reasons.  

Four things
you should know about The Google Art Project

1) You can take a virtual tour of a museum on the Project website
2) The Project showcases over 30,000 works of art ranging from sculptures to architecture and drawings from over 150 collections in 40 countries
3) In addition to the artworks from collections around the world, there is a wealth of additional material like videos, audio guides, viewing notes, detailed information and maps on the site
4)The My Gallery feature allows users to save specific views of any of the artworks and build their own personalised gallery. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole gallery can then be shared with friends and family. 

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