The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers 400,000 free high-res images for remixing

Art by Vasily Kandinsky (animation by Simone Seagle)

Since starting a year ago, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has made 400,000 of its images free to download and remix.

The project immediately empowered the likes of software developer and designer Simone Seagle. She downloaded a 1920s print from abstract Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky called Violett. Said Seagle:

Generally you can’t be in a mad mood looking at his work, and it’s a blast to cut up and play with in Photoshop. I picked the print called Violett, because it has fun colors and good shapes to work with.

Everything is a remix

It was Pablo Picasso who once said “great artists steal.” He took inspiration from his scenius and mixed it into his own original work. So it is no surprise that third most visited in the world wants to be part of the creative dialogue. The museum’s chief digital officer Loic Tallon told Quartz:

“If we could preserve the art world in a nice old pickle jar, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I genuinely believe that for the museum to maintain its relevance, we have to participate in that conversations.”

The internet is the world’s largest copy-paste machine. Giving the public unfettered access to rework old masterpieces will bring visibility to obscure pieces while also fueling new interpretations. With time, reworks will birth their own stems for future creators to build on top of.

Explore the MET’s open access artworks here.