Photo Essays

Stock Photos of the Generic Art World

by Hrag Vartanian on January 16, 2014

6697230_m-640-23

I don’t remember which social media link triggered my descent into the rabbit hole of art-related stock imagery on 123RF, but after a little a while I realized that I had taken the blue pill. (I’m mixing my Alice in Wonderland imagery with The Matrix, but forgive me.)

Yes, this world is mostly white and very thin. Men look unusually well put-together, while women are sexy, wear lipstick in the studio, and sometimes give the viewer come-hither looks.

The art world, if these stock images are to be believed, acts out its rituals in white heavenly rooms where art is blurred and sometimes the subject of laughter. Reality? Fiction? It’s art … world. The text at the top is the verbatim description supplied by 123RF.

6697230_m-640-studio

6697230_m-640-isola

6697230_m-640-vietnam

6697230_m-640-clay

6697230_m-640-graff

6697230_m-640-graffwoman

6697230_m-640-laugh

6697230_m-640-em

6697230_m-640-insp2

6697230_m-640-beret

6697230_m-640-silh

6697230_m-640-dog

Image credits: massonforstock / 123RF Stock Photo, damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo, shotsstudio / 123RF Stock Photo, Tawng / 123RF Stock Photo, poznyakov / 123RF Stock Photo, shotsstudio / 123RF Stock Photo, kwasny221 / 123RF Stock Photo, marcovarro / 123RF Stock Photo, moodboard / 123RF Stock Photo, leshabu / 123RF Stock Photo, bryndin / 123RF Stock Photo, dinhngochung / 123RF Stock Photo

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  • Christopher Harrison

    I read this while wearing my beret…

  • Michael Brown

    FYI: You could have used a freelance proofreader (artist) on this piece.

  • Cakelike

    the french artist clearly screened a 3D IMAX movie immediately before settling down in front of his canvas.

  • ebzimmerman

    vision of the future (inspired by photo #2): bags of “sexy young curator” costumes lining the walls of a Ricky’s around halloween time, including plunging neckline and glasses ill proportioned to the face

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/chuckhodi Chuck Hodi

    The Artist Observing Artist’s Model in Studio looks like a domestic violence scene….

  • hmblsnd

    hmm…

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      Well done!

  • TJW

    The artist in the red shirt is holding a loaded brush against his sleeve. He needs a smock (and a beret).

    • DavidAFrench

      That bothered me to no end. I always wear a speedsuit in the studio. Speedsuits are the best!

  • imaginfinity

    Twenty years of studying/working at art schools taught me that curators, artists and art students don’t look like business (wo)men/students… which is where the first two pictures (and the “artist at the easel” are missing their target (not to mention the sexism…)

    • Derek

      please explain the sexism.

  • Fiftyseven

    Please help me erase these images from my brain. Arggg!

  • grangorge

    One of the scariest series of images I’ve ever seen.
    Actually it represents all I’ve always tryed to avoid when I chose not to listen to anybody and be an artist.

  • simonhowes

    So one person bought rights to use these then. hyperallergic you just made some weekend photographers day!

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      Hey, if someone made money on them great. And we did buy the photos, so we helped them too ;)

  • http://erskinestudio.com/ CO Painter

    I’m liking this one…. hits two important targets at once- being clean and attractive and knowing how to lean on an easel (called “Attractive visual artist posing at painting canvas with brush”) Plus I have various striped shirts, so that makes me more of a French painter.

  • floatingcomma

    Can somebody help explain to me the Vietnamese artist pic? Didn’t make sense with the rest of these stock pictures, especially since it has the most descriptive text of the lot.

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      That’s a good question. And I, unfortunately, don’t have an answer.

  • Domenico Quaranta

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