In 1953, Rafael Tufino Figueroa, painted his mother’s portrait. She can be seen with a red scarf on her head, a determined look on her face and heavy expression lines, a depiction of a working-class woman that broke from conventional portraits of the time.
‘Goyita’, the name of the range of paintings, is 350 items strong with all of the paintings taken from Puerto Rico. The google Arts and Culture department has digitised all these paintings with help from “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who unveiled late Thursday the online exhibition that features work from four Puerto Rico art institutions.
The main objective in doing so is to increase awareness and knowledge about the fascinating Puerto Rican art which is till now very much undiscovered. The goal is to also help out all the museums who are unable to access these paintings because of their rareness.
“It’s a flare out to the world that there’s incredible art here,” Miranda told The Associated Press. “There’s no reason why Puerto Rican art should not be seen on the same stage as the Louvre, the Met and all the incredible other places where Google has come with its cameras to digitize the artwork.”
Right now this collection exists on the online Google exhibition alongside “Rings from 500 BC,” an up close view of the “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and a virtual tour of Chichen Itza in Mexico.
To go about the process, Google launched a camera called the ‘art camera’, says Miranda, jokingly adding that she might be under some watch list.
This art camera has an extremely high resolution because of the 400 millimeter zoom that reveals intricate details invisible to the human eye, including brush strokes. It also allowed those at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture to find the signature of a pioneering female artist, said executive director Carlos Ruiz, adding that the institute was forced to close its national gallery in 2013, leaving works without a permanent space.
According to Simon Delacroix, U.S. lead for Google Arts & Culture, the camera had to take thousands of pictures to make a 48 piece collection because to do justice to the beauty and details of the paintings, picture of the paintings had to be taken inch by inch. Some pictures took 30 minutes while others took more than a couple of hours, depending upon the size of the paintings.
When he had traveled to Puerto Rico in July to personally see the artwork, he was very intrigued by the magnificence of the diversity, depth, and richness of all these collections.
As Delacroix demonstrated the power of the zoom on a painting called “El Gobernador Don Miguel Antonio de Ustariz,” by Jose Campeche y Jordan, a collective “Wow” escaped from the audience attending the project unveiling at the Museum of Puerto Rico. The crowd could appreciate details in the background including someone that appears to be laughing from a balcony.
Already, Google has made available thousands of such exotic collections which if not for the internet would have remained unknown to the majority of the people. It allows you to explore 2,000 museums and history exhibitions including the Nelson Mandela Prison Cell.
Next year, the company expects to launch a larger project with more Puerto Rico artwork.