MoMA relies on Twitter to poll the crowd on modern masterpieces.
Why should the art critics have the final say? That’s a question that the modern and contemporary art establishment has been grappling with for a while. Museums like New York’s MoMA have the paradoxical role of both offering art up to the public view and keeping it ‘special’ by cordoning it off from the outside world. MoMA is recognizing the new functions of art and imagery on the internet now through a collaboration with creative agency POSSIBLE. Together, they’ve begun to disperse images of famous works in MoMA’s collection over Twitter and collect fans’ responses to them on the project’s central website, Art140.
To get the conversation started, POSSIBLE has also contacted the 175,000 employees of its parent company WPP group, but don’t mistake that for inauthenticity. “We’re not going to censor any criticism about the work or the artist,” MoMA’s digital media marketing manager Victor Samra told Adweek. “I have to say, though, that in running MoMA’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, maybe 1 to 2 percent of the comments are negative about the work, MoMA itself or the artist. And it’s usually well thought out.” Part of POSSIBLE’s work with MoMA will be to compile information gleaned from the stream into a report on people’s opinions, enabling the museum to better understand their core audience via social media.
The variety of responses already visible on the website attest to the different ways that people see art – both in terms of individual pieces’ meaning and the effect that the imagery has on their lives. Some are fascinated by the colors, others see the modern-day relevance of hundred-year-old movements like Futurism, and others see the appropriation of art as a boon to themselves. As a twitter user named Ryan Kefer wrote in response to Umberto Boccioni’s Dynamism of a Soccer Player (1913), “Just a little bit of art to class up my Twitter feed…one of my favorite paintings ever.”
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo sees the potential extension of this social experiment beyond just the art world. According to Adweek, thematic projects like this one shift attention away from the “individuals, brands and institutions” that have been Twitter focus thus far to more unusual topics that transcend these categories. It will be exciting to see what an art-filled Twitter world will look like.
Rachel Pincus on March 14, 2014