J Balvin, Ellie Goulding, FKA twigs, Grimes, Matt Healy from the 1975 and Chaeyoung from Twice are all starring in the new season of Google Arts & Culture’s Art Zoom series, which takes viewers on a guided tour of some of the world’s most famous masterpieces through the narration of famous musicians.
Through Google’s “gigapixel” Art Camera — a robotic camera custom-made to create the highest possible resolution images of paintings — users can zoom into an artwork at brushstroke-level detail and explore its hidden depths.
As one would expect from a fine-art-based series, “Art Zoom” is carefully curated, with each musician having a clear connection to the subject matter: FKA Twigs’ latest album is called “Magdalene” and she speaks about a painting of Mary Magdalene; J Balvin is from Medellin, Colombia, as is the painter Botero, etc.
The musicians show their appreciation for the subjects with their narrations, which are as follows:
FKA Twigs discussing female empowerment in a patriarchal society through Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy.” FKA Twigs shares – “Mary Magdalene was a major inspiration for my last album and when I learned about the history of the female painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, it impacted me. Artists like her have fought so hard to be recognized that it’s amazing I could help shine a light on her beautiful work.”
J Balvin‘s pride for Colombia and his hometown of Medellin, amidst the painful drug history of Pablo Escobar through Fernando Botero’s “ 20 de Julio.” Balvin shares – “Growing up in Medellin, Fernando Botero was all over the news– he’s an icon in Colombia. When I got the chance to raise awareness to his artwork and to Independence day as a Colombian, it was an honor”.
Grimes’ take on the age-old fight between good and evil through Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Fall of the Rebel Angel.” Grimes shares – “Pieter Bruegel the Elder is a strange dude and I hope I did a decent job analyzing his work. Rest In Peace.”
Matty Healy’s search for utopia during a global pandemic through Piet Mondrian’s “Large Composition A with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Black.” Healy says, “Although Mondrian’s work is from nearly a hundred years ago, the nowness of his work has always striked me. Lines come from a world of information and communication which is crucial in today’s digital world. The fact that art is an imperfect utopia, forever to be interpreted, was interesting to me when I spoke about his artwork.”
Twice lead singer Chaeyoung’s exploration of colors and shapes, mountains and nature, with “Mountains (Topography)” by the iconic Korean abstract painter Yoo Youngkuk. Chaeyoung says, “ For me, color is very important and that’s what caught my eye the first time I saw Yoo Youngkuk’s painting. I love nature, trees and looking at Yoo’s abstract art made me use my imagination which I love.”
Ellie Goulding’s musings on escapism, strength and chaos in pieces from Julie Mehretu, Yves Klein, and Cy Twombly. Goulding says, “Art has been hugely influential throughout my life and music. Whether it’s the escapism I feel through Julie Mehretu’s work, the power I get from Yves Klein or chaos from Cy Twombly, art makes me feel alive every time I see it. I was excited to share those feelings with the world through this project.”