Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has transformed the relationship between art and art-lovers in unprecedented ways. With approximately 400 million users, what began as a photographic social network has become a virtual gallery space, perfect for artistic publicity. The app has even become an artistic medium in its own right, with prints from Richard Prince’s controversial Instagram series selling for tens of thousands at Frieze New York. The social media platform’s force in the art market was aptly demonstrated this April, when Pierce Brosnan ignited a bidding frenzy by posting a selfie with Marc Newson’s Lockheed Lounge at Phillips auction house, captioned: ‘let the bidding commence.’ The piece sold for a staggering £2.4 million.
For those without a few million to splash on a chaise longue, Instagram goes some way to democratising an elite art world. The universality of the digital platform affords us a sense of proximity to major artists and art world celebrities. And in a sense, each digitally manipulated photo we post becomes our own work of art, meticulously curated to create an aspirational portrait of our lives.
Despite the benefits, the marriage between art and Instagram is an uneasy one: the former traditionally celebrates legacy and craft; the latter emphasises ephemerality. But is this new-fangled medium really so out of step with art as we have understood it for a century? It isn’t difficult to imagine Salvador Dalí snapping #GPOYs with his pet ocelot, or Magritte declaring ‘this is not a brunch.’ Might Frida Kahlo have posted an #ootd?
Whether you see it as a blessing or a curse, it pays to have an eye on Instagram. The following list picks out a few of the most interesting accounts in the art world. One conspicuous absence is @aiww – after all, aren’t we all following him already?
Who to follow:
1. Anita Zabludowicz
For covetable snaps of her personal collection, spanning over 2,000 works, along with sneak previews of new exhibitions and behind the scenes shots of works in production.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the 4th most Instagrammed museum in the world. Its own account offers snaps of artistic spaces across the globe, as well as reminding followers of international holidays (including #internationalcatday) through playful posts of their own collection.
Henri Matisse’s large-scale ceramic "La Gerbe (The Sheaf)" (1953) was installed at LACMA in 2010. Commissioned by Los Angeles patrons Sidney and Frances Brody from the artist in the early 1950s, this monumental Matisse now occupies a prominent wall in the lobby of the Ahmanson Building. Learn more about the acquisition online: http://bit.ly/MatisseCeramic [La Gerbe installed in Brody residence. Photo courtesy the archives of Frances L. Brody, now at LACMA.] #LACMA #Matisse #ceramic #tbt
The Smithsonian is a light-hearted, edifying addition to any Insta feed, keeping followers updated on the happenings across their 19 museums. Those more strictly interested in artworks can enjoy daily inspiration from the @hirshhorn and @freersackler accounts.
4. Hammer Museum
The Hammer engages with its followers, even inviting them to visit and Instagram the museum outside of opening hours (#emptyhammer). Their artist takeovers are particularly enjoyable, the latest being commandeered by Frances Stark.
5. Anish Kapoor
Kapoor’s account began as a serial photographic artwork. Since summer of this year, he’s increasingly used the app as a platform for integrating art and political causes, joining @aiww on the #AnishAndWeiweiWalk as an expression of solidarity with refugees.
Keeping stride with the latest exhibitions can be a daunting task – @Artsy brings them straight to your smartphone. What’s more, their artful images guide those liable to premeditate their inevitable Instagram snap before actually visiting the shows. How helpful.
7. Victoria Siddall
The Frieze director gives her Instagram followers an insider glimpse of the art world, as well as capturing the art of the wider world itself, posting snaps of her travels in Bethnal Green, Basel and beyond.
8. Lawrence Lek
A man of many talents, including sculpture, digital art and music production, Lawrence Lek’s Instagram reveals his fascination with urban architecture, utopia, and the relationships between reality and simulation.
9. Jiajia Fei
Guggenheim Associate Director, Digital Marketing, Fei is an established Instagram star. Her feed guides followers through the art world with sartorial flair, along with the occasional photo of her black and white kitten (#cocochanelfei).
Last but not least, be sure to follow @apollomagazine to see what’s caught our eye in the art world recently.