Amit Sood still remembers a piece of advice he received nearly a decade ago from a museum director: “Museums have been around for hundreds of years… we’ve seen many trends, even wars, come and go, but we’re still here.”
The director of Google’s Cultural Institute and Art Project uses the same piece of wisdom to stress that a decade ago, museums viewed the internet as a rival that would never catch up with them in the art race. Yet today, Google has grown into the world’s biggest museum, with a digital database that comprises exhibits from thousands of museums all over the world. Technology is its most powerful tool, as it allows the images of art to be delivered – free of charge – in a quality and resolution so high that you couldn’t see such details in, say, a Vermeer, even if your nose was touching it.
Naturally, Greece is also represented on the Google Arts & Culture platform, by organizations such as the National Gallery, the Benaki Museum and the Theocharakis Foundation. The most recent addition to this list is the privately owned Sotiris Felios Collection of Greek art.
“I am so proud, not because it consists of works of art discerned and purchased by me, but because our country has so many wonderful artists who deserve to become known abroad,” Felios tells Kathimerini.
Ever since he started collecting art in the mid-1980s and up to the present, the lawyer had decided that these works would not be reserved for his own pleasure or that of his family and business partners (some pieces are in his office), but that they should be shared with everyone with a love of art.
But what kind of comparative advantage can Greek artists have compared to so many thousands of others vying for attention on the platform?
“Without big art museums, without the almighty international collectors that support the art market, as in other countries in the West, Greek artists continue making art because they want to share a part of their soul. They express the sincere, unmediated and authentic essence of creativity that seeks to speak not to buyers but to aficionados. This is what makes them special and we believe that this quality is evident in the online gallery,” says Felios.