In 2014, I went to the de Young Museum in San Francisco and I started noticing the amount of people eager to photograph the artworks in front of them, so I started photographing them photographing the art. Over the past four years I have noticed an increase in people trying to take pictures of art in museums, and more and more with their phone rather than a camera. All of the museums I have visited since I began my project are packed with people taking pictures of art - it is inescapable and very in-your-face, especially at well-known places like the Louvre and Uffizi.
I am not completely sure what makes us want to photograph artworks from museum collections on our phones, but I do know the urge transcends race, age, and nationality. I take pictures of art pieces so I can remember them later. I take pictures of art pieces so I can post them on my Instagram. When I feel like a sardine in a can packed full of eager museum-goers and I have to look at a painting through someone’s iPad screen because I can’t get close enough to see it in real life, I think about why this happens everywhere. Do we even care about looking at the art while it’s in front of us or do we just want to prove to our friends that we were there?—Anna Madison, April 2018.