“This is where all the famous paintings are.” People gather in the main Impressionists room in the National Gallery of London, photographing themselves in front of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous work, Sunflowers, but mostly ignoring his other equally celebrated artwork, Chair, and completely missing the artists who influenced him such as Pissarro.
This selfie enthusiasm is new; the Gallery only started allowing photos in August 2014 – and very reluctantly. The Wire reported the dismay of art critics at the time:
“I have to say, a bit of my soul died each time someone photographed a piece or even worse, took a selfie without actually looking at it with their own two eyes.” (Art History Newsletter)
“The last bastion of quiet contemplation is now to become selfie central, where noisy clicking smartphones and intense flashlights will prevail over any ‘eccentrics’ who want actually to look at art. The gallery used to be a haven where looking at pictures was prioritised. Now it will all be about taking your own pictures.” (Michael Savage, author of the Grumpy Art Historian blog)