Museums have pretty well gotten on board with social media. Major names, like writer, activist, and curator Kimberly Drew, have held positions at major institutions to manage their Facebooks, Twitters, and Instagrams. Creating a relationship and dialogue with followers has helped build up the community around museums and brought many institutions, that may have felt archaic or intimidating, into the present while simultaneously making them more accessible. Now, one of Paris’ most notable museums, the Musée d’Orsay, has hired what they’re calling an Instagram artist in residence.
Jean-Philippe Delhomme, an illustrator whose works have been included in the New Yorker, has been brought onto the museum’s team to take control of their Instagram. Delhomme won’t be completely in charge of the account, that’s left up to the museum’s regular social media team. However, every Monday in 2020 will be Delhomme’s chance to introduce museum followers to a new artist or give more information about better-known artists.
Delhomme’s post won’t be a typical get-to-know the artist post, though. Instead, he will illustrate the supposed Instagram of the artist he’s working with to capture what the artist’s social media presence might look like. To kick off the year, Delhomme started with Joris-Karl Huysmans, a French art critic who also happens to be the subject of one of the Musée d’Orsay’s current exhibitions. Delhomme’s illustration shows a portrait of the art critic with a caption reading ‘Thank you @JL.Forain for my portrait. #museedorsay.’ The fictitious post gets a like from @degas, presumably Edgar Degas, and @JL.Forain, Jean-Louis Forain, himself. Beneath the caption the question ‘No mean criticism this time?’ is asked by a user named gervex, which alludes to artist Henri Gervex, who Huysmans wrote of.
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/ En 2020, le musée d’Orsay accueille pour la première fois, avec @jeanphilippedelhomme, un artiste en résidence sur son compte Instagram, pour un rendez-vous hebdomadaire mettant en images la vie du musée et les artistes de sa collection. La série s’ouvre avec Huysmans ! / In 2020, the Musée d’Orsay welcomes, with @jeanphilippedelhomme, its first Instagram artist in residence for a weekly encounter with the life of the museum and its artists. Let’s start with Huysmans! / ✍ jk_Huysmans : Merci JL.Forain pour mon portrait. gervex : Pas de critique méchante cette fois-ci ? . jk_Huysmans: Thank you JL.Forain for my portrait. gervex: No mean criticism this time? . #jeanphilippedelhomme #joriskarlhuysmans #Huysmans #exposition #exhibition #litterature #ecrivain #literature #writer #museedorsay #museeorsay #orsaymuseum
The novel approach Delhomme uses to introduce artists gives viewers insight into the lives of artists whose works are part of the Musée d’Orsay’s collection. It also gives various artists the chance to interact in a way that people of Huysmans’ time would have never thought of but is all so familiar today.
The Musée d’Orsay’s Instagram artist in residence is just another way that Instagram, which focuses far more on images that other social platforms, is influencing the art world, and potentially vice versa.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of the so-called ‘Instagram museum,’ which attracts guests for the fun and eccentric photos that can be captured within. Works by artists like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms have found new life much in part thanks to social media. It hasn’t been unusual for exhibitions to have lines out the door due to popularity or to even have to extend museum and exhibition hours to accommodate excited, camera-wielding guests. Instagram has also changed the game for established artists as well as for up-and-coming artists. Getting your work in front of an audience can be difficult without a well-established gallery or the funds to operate, but with Instagram, more artists have a platform through which they can make their art known. For all its merits, the art world has been slower to catch up in some ways, though. Some artists, like CJ Hendry for instance, have often been deduced to an ‘Instagram artist,’ a title which can diminish the work and abilities of artists labeled as such.
Delhomme’s collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay will hopefully add to the positive ways the art world interacts with social media, it’s definitely one to follow.