Two weeks ago, Andy Warhol opened at Tate Modern, then closed again. The artist barely got his 15 minutes. If you need an Andy fix, why not visit the website of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which has the largest holdings of the artist’s work in the world? If you never got to see the National Gallery’s Titian exhibition (or even if you did), there are three Facebook Live conversations about the show are also available on the National Gallery’s YouTube channel along with many other videos about other works in the collection, and key ideas.
“There is no need for you to leave the house,” wrote Franz Kafka. “Stay at your table and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it can’t do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you.” I have to be careful with writhing, as my back is not what it was, and we are currently not allowed visitors, especially those who arrive unmasked. Nevertheless, a bit of rapture or ecstasy wouldn’t go amiss for any of us.
Even if it isn’t quite the physical thing, there is always art. Armchair tours of the world’s museums, now that we can’t go anywhere, will have to do. The experience is in some ways far from second best. Have you ever tried muscling your way through the crowds gathered in front of Rembrandt’s Night Watch in Amsterdam’s Rijkmuseum? Mostly, they are letting their smart phones do the watching.
You can home right in or back away, without bumping into anyone. If you want to get closer still, the Night Watch is being restored, and you can watch (there is even an accompanying children’s tour). The Rijkmuseum, along with more than a thousand other museums worldwide, is now partnering with Google Arts & Culture, where you can get inside everywhere from MoMA in New York to the Munch Museum in Oslo, from the British Museum to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to the Today Art Museum in Beijing. Not only that, the website also allows you to zoom in far closer on individual works than you ever could in real life. Like a dragonfly, you can alight on Monet’s pond, lose yourself in the sky beyond the branches in a Cézanne landscape, or get personal with the ruffs and jerkins, the bulbous noses and elephant eyes of the Night Watch.
Fancy a trip to the Prado and its 936 Goyas, some of which come with extensive commentaries and videos (with English subtitles). The same approach is applied to Velázquez, Bosch, Rogier van der Weyden and the other artists in what is my favourite museum, and you can spend days on the Prado website, just as you can in the museum, and fall down the rabbit hole of its interactive timeline. At the Louvre you can take a virtual tour of the empty galleries, zooming in on artworks as you go.
The Getty museum in Los Angeles has announced has a number of online exhibitions on view – including Michelangelo, and another on the history and development of the Bauhaus, as well as its extensive collection and art historical resources. Who knows where even an idle journey might take you.
Every day, more and more institutions are upping their game in the light of our current situation. Congolese choreographer and dancer Faustin Linyekula was meant to perform at this year’s BMW Tate Live Exhibition, alongside other performances by Okwui Okpokwasili and Tanya Lukin Linklater. Linyekula and his collaborators worked with Tate to stage a one-off, site-specific work, performed to camera in the empty Tanks.
Hauser & Wirth’s new digital programme Dispatches, a series of original video and online features and events, launched a few days ago. Last weekend, Martin Creed performed a live Instagram gig @hauserwirth, and in From a Distance, gallery artists are to share filmed messages and studio visits, beginning with Avery Singer’s Artist Studio Challenge, inviting artists to show their works in progress, and Guillermo Kuitca showcases his home studio and drawings. Later this week, the gallery presents its first ever online exhibition, Louise Bourgeois: Works on Paper selected by Jerry Gorovoy, Bourgeois’ former studio assistant.
London’s ICA is now sending out a daily email, with things to read, watch or listen to. There are mixtapes, short films, and a track of the day. In its first offering they also link about 900 ICA talks from 1982-1993, available at the British Library Sounds collection. All you need to do to get a daily email is sign up.
For enlivening conversations with artists, I recommend the Louisiana Channel on YouTube. Based at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, in Humlebaek, Denmark, its website is full of good, sometimes alarming, things. As well as poets, novelists, architects ad thinkers, artists discussing single works, artists talking about outer space and the Arctic, artists who use water in their work, writers on facing the blank page and a section devoted to advice to the young. Whether you want to watch David Hockney talking about space, Marina Abramović discussing Giacometti, painters winding each other up or just terrific conversations, this is a very good place to find yourself.
While you are at the Louisiana Channel you can also find conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith performing verbatim traffic reports to President Obama at a White House poetry reading. Goldsmith is founding editor of Ubu, a cornucopia of sometimes arcane and historical delights. I have been dipping in and out of this essential resource for years, with its old radio conversations and interviews, the punk rock of Martin Kippenberger and pop songs by Joseph Beuys, readings by John Ashbery and Roni Horn, a huge reservoir artists’ films and videos, from Bruce Nauman to Agnés Varda, John Akomfrah to Martha Rosler. I have barely scratched the surface.
For more instant delights, the Instagram feeds of Alice Rawsthorn and Stephen Ellcock are worth a follow. Rawsthorn writes about design (what she really focuses on is the material pleasures and strangeness of the world, design is just a way in) while Ellcock, who is described as “an image hunter and social media art curator”, posts the most astonishing images. His recent book All Good Things is subtitled A Treasury of Images to Uplift the Spirits and Reawaken Wonder. This is perfect for our time, a moment that may be very prolonged.
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