The comparisons are often both inaccurate and vaguely insulting, but it's extremely entertaining and addictive
The citizens of a dying superpower have been rocked by a viral moment. It doesn’t feel like too much of an exaggeration to say that it feels like everyone in America under the age of 35 has spent the past few days using the newly-launched portrait feature on the Google Arts & Culture app, with which users can compare their faces to works of art from museums around the globe. Despite the fact that the comparisons are often both inaccurate and vaguely insulting, the feature is extremely entertaining and addictive – for example, the rush I got when the app said I looked like a painting called “Disappointed” is comparable only to that of hard drugs or one’s first viewing of Magic Mike XXL.
None of you look like any of these paintings.— Gabe Delahaye (@gabedelahaye) January 14, 2018
This feature-slash-tool for government spying is currently only available in the US (Edward Snowden has yet to weigh in). The app also has fairly limited options for people of colour at present, highlighting the west’s very white understanding of art history – Google is continuing to add artworks to the project, so hopefully, this will improve. But alas! This thing is everyone’s semi-problematic fave. And so we thought it might be fun to find the painted doppelgängers of some of Dazed’s favorite cultural figures, and then critique them.
Winona Ryder – “The Marquise de Pezay, and the Marquise de Rougé with Her Sons Alexis and Adrien,” by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun is one of the few female artists on this list and is viewed as the personal portraitist of Marie Antoinette, which is very cool. Obviously, Winona Ryder would pair with a delicate beauty, but I also hope that you notice I have used a photo of 90s Winona, in a nod to our generation’s perpetual hard-on for 90s Winona and Kate Moss, and of course the nineties in general. I think this fetish is on its last legs – trendy people on Twitter have started saying that they hate Gen-X!
Björk – “The Conversation,” by Abraham Leon Kroll, from the National Academy Museum & School
This one is actually pretty accurate – the cheekbones, the blush – but definitely too basic for alien queen Björk. Fun fact: I was once drunk at a party, saw Björk wearing a veil, shrieked, “Oh my god, it’s Björk,” and then she whispered, “Hello, yes, it is I, I am Björk,” and promptly disappeared into the velvety blackness of the night.
Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction – “Under a Palm Tree” by Winslow Homer, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The only similarity here is that both women are looking wistful with their heads tilted, although their eyes are looking in different directions. Get it together, NSA! Also, I tried to use a photo from the OD scene here, but this app apparently can’t register an adrenaline shot to the chest.
RuPaul – “Obey,” by Shepard Fairey, mural from the show at Magda Danysz Gallery in 2007
Mama Ru deserves better.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Head of a Youth” by Théodore Gericault, from the Art Gallery of South Australia
Buffy was indeed a youth, but she was an old soul from a long line of Slayers! She alone could wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness! And so this comparison feels shortsighted.
Chloë Sevigny – “Zittende vrouw met een koperen ketel,” by Abraham van Strij I, from the Rijksmuseum
According to Google Translate (I am really shilling for Google here, please write me a cheque) this means "Sitting woman with a copper kettle." During the era that this photo was taken, I do not think Chloë Sevigny was ever sitting around with a kettle. She was too busy going to raves!
Rihanna – “Fast Runners,” by Eliza Griffiths, from the Canada Council Art Bank
Unsure if Rihanna is a fast runner – she smokes a lot of weed but she is also a pop star who works out all the time, so it’s unclear – but she certainly does “Run This Town!” Ha!
Missy Elliot – “African Venus,” by Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier, from the Walters Art Museum
Missy Elliott is as iconic as any and all iterations of Venus, but this is certainly of an example of the app being pretty racist.
Anna Wintour – “No Touching Ground – Susana Trimarco,” from the collection of Buenos Aires Graffiti
They look so alike! And I live for Miranda Priestly – Andy Sachs was an entitled fool who couldn’t do her job properly! In comparison, Susana Trimarco an incredible activist who has been fighting human trafficking since the kidnapping and forced prostitution of her own daughter in 2002. Overshadows the whole cerulean thing a bit.
Beyoncé – “Sky Dash” by Ian Scott, from the collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
How can any painting compare to Beyoncé, who is herself a living, breathing work of art?
Rose McGowan – “Pvt. Dorothy Spaulding,” by Francis Vandeveer Kughler, from the Hudson River Museum
While annoying that Rose McGowan has to be matched with a painting by a man, it is quite exciting that this particular painting is of a female soldier! #RoseArmy
Marilyn Manson – “Self-Portrait with Striped Shirt,” by Egon Schiele, from the Leopold Museum
Considering that Egon Schiele was also a weirdo who frequently twisted the human figure, this feels pretty apt!
Kanye West – “Common Cents transforming Kai’s Spaulding Wall,” by Kai Aspire, from Random Art Projects
I was asked to show Kimye, but Google Arts & Culture only has the aptitude for one person per portrait. I therefore divided the couple of our time, but used the same photo for both – my favorite photo ever, in which they are both solemnly eating ice cream. Here, Kanye eating ice cream goes with another image of Kanye on a wall.
Kim Kardashian West – “Martha Graham,” by Paul R. Meltsner, from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
Martha Graham was one of the most famous dancers of all time, and Kim famously hates dancing. Remember when Prince kicked her off his stage? Googling “Kim Kardashian dancing” yields an embarrassment of riches, including headlines like “Watch Kim Kardashian do some awkward dancing in club with Kanye West and his rapper pals.” She is unquestionably our greatest celebrity.
Lana Del Rey – “Woman on the beach,” by José Cuchy y Arnau, from the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Well, she does like to get high by the beach so I’ll take it.
Nicki Minaj – “A Melancholic Legong,” by Guruh Soekarno Putra, from the ARMA Museum
Nicki looks less “melancholic” and more like someone whose side-eye could cause a person to actually die.
Courtney Love – “The Ballad Singers,” by Thomas Rowlandson, from the Yale Center for British Art
She is a singer! I think “Doll Parts” and its ilk qualifies as a ballad. This work is also from the tail end of the Regency era, edging up against the Victorian, and Courtney Love rocks a lot of lacy things. It works? Kind of?