Google portrait feature matches enthusiasm with art app

The ‘Arts & Culture’ app has the broad goal of curating and sharing classic art from across the world, Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. Photo used with Wikipedia Commons.

The ‘Arts & Culture’ app has the broad goal of curating and sharing classic art from across the world, Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. Photo used with Wikipedia Commons.

Ethan O’Sullivan, Web Editor

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Google Arts & Culture’s portrait feature made the app viral during January. By using a smartphone camera’s facial detection feature, it matches up a basic selfie with a piece of art potentially hundreds of years old. The app is useful for more than that, however.

A scroll through the home page reveals compelling photojournalism like ‘8 Fascinating Communities from Around the World’ or ‘The 1970s in Photographs,” with high enough quality to rival National Geographic. In the spirit of inspiring people to take a more careful look at the world around them, here are a few of the best portraits captured around the school.

Junior Jason Nguyen, a habitual completionist of the N the Red Issue Review, took off his glasses and smiled for the camera. He matched with a painting of “A Girl” by Min Xiwen, a lesser known Chinese artist who was active in Shanghai for much of the 20th century. Though there is sparse information on him, his art career was briefly interrupted when he was forced into labor during the the Communist Revolution, possibly due to his pursuits. Under Mao Zedong’s rule, it was decreed that all art must serve as propaganda.

Michael Sweerts was a Flemish painter in the Renaissance who earned his keep by working on commission from wealthy Dutch merchants. According to the Rijksmuseum, his dramatic use of contrasting light adds “an added air of mystery” to his paintings. The stern-faced checkers player in this portrait is a bit less thoughtful than his counterpart, junior Sam Bauer. Perhaps his mind is on the game. Outside of that, he does not feel much of a bond with his doppelgänger.

“I definitely think the hairline is very off,” Bauer said. “I kind of like playing checkers, but I don’t often play.”

William Morris Hunt was the archetype of an enchanted artist. Like Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut or Oscar Wilde, he dropped out of an Ivy League school before unlocking his passion in art. One of his names – Morris -shares a Celtic root with his painting’s counterpart, junior Jameson Tierney.

Math teacher Stephen Curtis crossed his legs and cupped his chin, a bit like Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker.’ Unfortunately though, the app only identifies paintings. Curtis was matched with a painting from Joshua Reynolds, one of the most famous European painters in the 18th century. According to the National Gallery of the United Kingdom, the carmine red of which Reynolds used enthusiastic amounts has faded over time. While the portraits once looked dark and rich in their backgrounds, that illusion is falling apart.

In this portrait by William Powell Frith, a knight who has consumers a few cups of wine has in his eyes the spark of interest in a nearby maid. The rosy cheeks and curious eyes are a dead ringer with junior Ethan Lugar.

Currently the app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play, and the portrait feature is available on a portion of the home page labeled “Is your portrait in a museum?”