what they see art tumblr

Marsyas by Balthasar Permoser ca. 1680-85, Marble, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

We’ve all been to museums and gazed upon incredible classic and contemporary artworks. It’s interesting to examine exhibits from the curator’s perspective, and it’s always great to appreciate the care that goes into arranging works of art and sculptures in a museum setting. Have you ever considered what the museum might look like from the artwork’s perspective? NYC-based art director Masashi Kawamura did, and created a Tumblr that is dedicated to the perspectives of artworks.

“What They See” asks the simple question, “You visit museums to see works of art. Have you ever wondered what they see instead?” Kawamura’s project is such a unique take on museums and the things that inhabit them, including artworks, internal design, museum staff, and visitors. It is certainly something that we’ve never considered before at Cultivating Culture!

“What They See” features side-by-side images of an artwork paired with what it’s perspective is. Study of a Young Woman by Johannes Vermeer peers out at a room full of excited visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example. Another is the famous Marsyas bust by Balthasar Permoser, which is gazing up at the Met’s ceiling.

what they see art tumblr

The Vine by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth 1921, revised 1923, this cast 1924, Bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

what they see art tumblr

Study of a Young Woman by Johannes Vermeer ca. 1665-67, Oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

These couplings of images are at times humorous, somber, and even surprising. Seeing the perspectives of artworks makes these works come alive in a truly nuanced, fascinating way. One cannot help but feel sympathy for Harried Whitney Frishmuth’s The Vine, who is forever forced to stare up at the sky while visitors look at her and pass by. Similarly, Aristide Maillol’s bronze sculpture Night will only ever see the floor where they are sitting.

Kawamura has introduced a really interesting way to engage with artworks in museums; it’s fun to take pleasure in looking at art, while also considering the ways in which the artworks themselves are interacting with their own environment. What do you think of “What They See?” Will you look at artworks in a different way after seeing things from their perspective?

Images: via Tumblr.