Top Five Art Sites for the Armchair Art Aficionado

23 February 2013art

I think we can all agree that this cold weather is just hanging about too long and we all really need to do some flash mob sun salutation to lure back the sun god Ra. If someone please ask Olafur Eliasson to bring back The Weather Project this week at the Tate, then I’d be more than pleased to go out and see a good art exhibition – artificial sunlight and all. But laziness plagues a dampened spirit and** my best friend these days is none other than my armchair**.

Manet, Lichtenstein and Man Ray can all wait (great exhibitions around the city)- but here are some sites that you need to see when it’s just too cold to go out. At least, you don’t need to shell £15 to see some great masterpieces (and in your pyjamas!)

The Nation’s Oil Paintings ( from [The Public Catalogue Foundation]. See how the PCF catalogued 211,880 oil paintings (

1. Your Paintings

With 211,880 oil paintings online, this site is a goldmine for discovering UK’s public art collection. Your Paintings is a joint initiative between the BBC and the charity Public Catalogue Foundation with the participation of  museums from across the UK. Most paintings on this site are part of a museum’s public collection that are not in public display at the moment (some are being repaired or conserved or being moved around for other exhibitions) so it’s a great way to familiarise yourself with paintings that you won’t probably see when visiting an actual museum. Your Paintings also includes guided tours from not just artists, art critics or experts but also by a more diverse bunch of people like actress Sue Johnston or like Michelle Ackerley who is a children’s TV presenter. The site is also interactive – you can create your own personal collection and can also tag paintings!

Top 4 must see:

The Google Cultural Institute

2. The Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute has 42 online exhibits about the major events of the 20th and 21st century. The historical collections are great online educational resource – and rather than boring us to death with texts, the site is interactive – and very true to Google’s philosophy of putting ‘the user experience’ above all else – there are great photos that you can swipe with ease. That’s how Google does it even for culture.

Top 4 must see:

The Google Art Project

3. The Google Art Project

Aside from these historical collections, we all know about The Google Art project which was originally launched in 2011. By now, the collection has arrived to 184 and still growing. Aside from seeing high-resolution photos of some of the world’s best artworks, you can also view that same artwork with a view from the gallery option which makes you see it as if you’re in the museum itself.

Top 4 must see:

Art Babble trailer

4. Art Babble

Called the YouTube for the Arts, Art Babble is a project initiated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art but content comes from more than 51 art organisations and museums like the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the National Portrait Gallery or even the Rice University of Art. The site is eclectic – there are artist interviews, behind the scenes sneak peak and curator talks. It is also easy to navigate: the menu is divided into themes, medium, period and style, location, popular and new so it’ s not overwhelming for a first-time visitor. Some of these videos are also in You Tube but with Art Babble, you save a lot of time browsing and looking for these videos.

Top 4 must see

Tate Shots: The launching of the Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

5. Tate Channel

Seems like a very obvious choice but there’s really a wealth of information with the videos and audio clips from Tate especially because the content is very much tied to their own exhibitions.  You can find all these clips on the Menu ‘Context and Comment’ at the Tate homepage – a taxonomy that is a little bit confusing (should be renamed to something like ‘Media or Multimedia’ perhaps?). Nevertheless, you can spend a lot of time just watching and scouting for artist interviews like Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst – the list of the mega-artists goes on…

Top 4 must see