I’m not usually in the business of telling you not to do things.
Follow your dreams, put babies on spikes, whatever. We’re only here on this planet for so long, there is no God, all is permitted. We make all this stuff up, you know? Human freedom, duty, etc. None of it is real. We’re just trying to paper over the cavernous void that waits for us all.
Do not take cell phone pictures of Van Gogh paintings in busy museums.
I’m not going to tell you not to take cell phone pictures of ART in museums, full stop. I could see scenarios where that was acceptable. Maybe the museum is not even remotely crowded, and you’re the only people in that gallery, and your mom is all “take a picture of me in front of the Andy Warhol soup cans.” Go for it. I bless this undertaking. I can see that! A picture which has you or someone else in it, reminding you of an experience you shared. That’s a thing, maybe you could take a picture of that.
Or maybe it’s a super-obscure painting that can’t be Google image-searched, and you fell in love with it, and you want to hold it against your face while you’re sleeping, and you can’t draw. That’s maybe a possible thing.
But there’s something about being at MoMA, and being really excited because your father has never been to NYC before and never seen “The Starry Night” in person, even though he went to the Netherlands to the actual Van Gogh Museum, and even though he’s sat through “Vincent and the Doctor,” and is a Van Gogh mega-fan (reasonably), and then you get in there and it’s just a fucking sea of people taking pictures with their smartphones, and, like, two assholes in expensive Italian designer jeans using their iPads, so they’re blocking out more space then their own HEADS to impede your view of the actual painting. And then giving you looks when you enter the shot!
Look. It’s right there!
Look. It’s in the gift shop. Seriously. If a painting is famous enough to be in the gift shop, it does not need to be on your phone.
Look. If you are an impoverished art lover who cannot buy a print, you can go to a public library, use the free internet, and right-click and save a picture of “The Starry Night” and email it to yourself, because you appear to have a smartphone anyway, so this is an unnecessary step, and have it always and sleep with it next to your face. But you don’t need to do that, because it’s right there on the internet whenever you want it.
It’s unacceptable. It is unacceptable to conduct yourself this way in public. Every single one of your ancestors is ashamed of you for doing this.
(Okay, I thought of one more caveat, because I am Canadian and do not want to judge anyone unfairly: perhaps you have been assigned the task of looking at a bunch of paintings by an educational professional, who wants photo evidence of your visit. That would also be okay.)
I am actually incensed by this. It is shockingly rude. It is boorish. It is also stupid and pointless. Look at the art. Look closely, get out of the way, let someone else look at the art. Do not block people by holding up your rude arms.
You know how they handle the Crown Jewels in London? They have a little conveyer belt. A really slow conveyer belt, and you stand on it, and it slowly moves you past the jewels so you can see them but don’t have the ability to be a fucking monster about it. It’s kind of amazing. It works! I’m not even sure how Moriarty stole them, because that is not how it is set up.
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwoPSdtFqHg >
Maybe those are different Crown Jewels they just keep in a big box in the middle of the room. I digress.
Do you know how hard it was for me to tell you not to do something? If you saw the meta-data on this post, you’d see it was first “Do Not Take Cell Phone Pictures in Museums,” and then it was “Do Not Take Cell Phone Pictures of Art in Museums,” and then it was “Do Not Take Cell Phone Pictures of Art in Busy Museums,” and then it finally arrived at its current defanged state.
So, please do not do this tiny little obscure distilled thing, which is a true evil, is what I’m saying.
And “The Starry Night” is truly lovely in person.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.