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.


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

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

22 replies on “Stock Photos of the Generic Art World”

  1. are those 3D glasses from the movie theater…my thoughts: “I always where a cut out top when I do studio visit ” – “Who doesn’t wear a satin bow tie when they paint” -“My best button ups are always reserved for artistic contemplation”- (oh the 3D glasses man) – this was wonderful, like a delightful cookie

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

  3. 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

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

  5. 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…)

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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