Google Art Project vs. Johannes Vermeer

May 28th, 2013
The Geographer, Johannes Vermeer

Detail of the Geographer on
Google’s Art Project at highest resolution.

Google can be amazing…sometimes the wrong way. From what I have gathered, the behemoth’s homegrown Art Project reflects fairly accurately their corporate mindset: despite brave-new-world ambition and claims of pushing technology to its limits, the project is sometimes unbelievably uneven in quality.

Among the latest museum additions to the Google Art Project is the Frankfurt Städelsches Kunstinstitut which houses Vermeer’s Geographer. Let me put it this way, I’d recommend you clicking on this link that takes you to the zoom feature of the picture only in the case you have a grudge with Vermeer. Its gritty, pixelated quality is simply astounding. It seems more likely that it was scanned from a weathered color 1950s transparency than from the picture itself using state-of-the-art digital imaging apparatus. On the positive side, at this point Google probably can’t do anything worse for Vermeer, although they will probably keep on trying.

BTW, can someone explain why Google Art Project lists artists by their first names?

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