The New York Times alludes to Walter Benjamin in its headline and Roberta Smith reminds readers of the practical limitations on Google Art Project when it bumps up against 20th Century copyright protections.
According to Kim Mitchell, the museum’s chief communications officer , the 17 paintings “are among the few in our collection that do not raise the copyright-related issues that affect so many works of modern and contemporary art.” In other words, if and when the Art Project is a clear success, the Modern will decide if it wants to spend the time and money to secure permission for Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon” and the like to appear on it. […]
From where I sit Google’s Art Project looks like a bandwagon everyone should jump on. It makes visual knowledge more accessible, which benefits us all.
In many ways this new Google venture is simply the latest phase of simulation that began with the invention of photography, which is when artworks first acquired second lives as images and in a sense, started going viral. These earlier iterations — while never more than the next best thing — have been providing pleasure for more than a century through art books, as postcards, posters and art-history-lecture slides. For all that time they have been the next best thing to being there. Now the next best thing has become better, even if it will never be more than next best.
The Work of Art in the Age of Google (New York Times)