Daily Archives: February 3, 2011

ARTstor & Google Art Project – Zoom zoom zoom!

Ever wondered what a digital image of 14 billion pixels would look like close up? Now’s your chance to find out on Google’s Art Project site, where 17 works have been rendered at this staggering level of detail. If you have been on the web in last couple of days, you have probably come across some mention of Art Project as “a website that allows visitors to see more than 1,000 works by 486 artists, take virtual 360-degree tours of galleries, and zoom in for extreme close-up views to inspect a great artist’s brushwork.” (Source: LA Times)

More on the project: GoogleBlog announcement, Wall St Journal, Guardian, Atlantic, Washington Post.


Closer to home, SVA students & faculty have access to a range of image databases, but I wanted to highlight an incredible image resource in ARTstor. Just as in Art Project, you can zoom in on an image and get up close and personal with revered works of art that you would have to battle jostling crowds to see in person. Plus, going ‘Art Project’ one better, you can save that zoomed in view as a .jpg for use in your own projects. When I teach library instruction classes and go over ARTstor I like to use a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. Save a whole painting, then zoom in using Photoshop or Preview, and you get pixelation. But using ARTstor’s zoom feature and saving the result you get crisp detail, as though you were examining the original painting with a magnifying glass.

If you have used ARTstor before you will know that it’s a great resource for finding images of artworks and artists, that can be searched easily with Keywords. But it is also possible to browse their images by looking at the collections from which they come.
To browse click here:
ARTStor’s holdings. Or from within the database, click Find (menu bar at the top of the page) > Browse ARTstor by > Collections (or Geography or Classification or Featured Image Groups)

The collections gathered together in ARTstor dwarf the Google Art Project by several orders of magnitude in terms of variety. There are thousands of works of art – from prehistoric antiquities to video art stills, to photos from Henri Cartier Bresson’s photography agency, and much more besides. Some of the largest collections included in ARTstor are close to 35,000 images of Indian Art from the American Institute of India Studies, almost 80,000 photographs from Magnum Photo, and the 36,000+ images in the Schlesinger History of Women in America Collection. The only way to wrap your head around how much they have to offer is to explore for yourself. Check the ARTstor blog for news and updates. And if you have any questions, let us know: reference@sva.edu.