This New Google Feature Transforms Your Photos Into Art Inspired by Legends Like Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh

Your next selfie belongs in the Louvre.

Google Arts & Culture
Photo: Google

Chances are you’re stuck at home like the rest of us right now to stop the spread of COVID-19. And if you are, you might have used this time to visit a virtual museum, explore a destination using online resources, and maybe even put together a puzzle of your favorite masterpiece.

But now, thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can actually transform your own photographs into art inspired by some of the most famous artists of all time. Using the Google Arts & Culture app you can transform any photo on your phone into a masterpiece in the style of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and more.

To create your image all you have to do is open the Google Arts & Culture app and select “Art Transfer” in the bottom bar. Then select an image to upload into the app and choose one of the dozens of artistic styles available to transform your photo. You can even apply the style to select portions of the image using the handy scissors icon.

The artistic stylings come from a handful of cultural institutions across the planet, including Japan’s MOA Museum of art and the United Kingdom's National Gallery. According to Google, “Art Transfer is powered by an algorithmic model created by Google AI.” This means it doesn’t just use an overlay to create your image, but “kicks off a unique algorithmic recreation of your photo inspired by the specific art style you have chosen.”

Art Transfer is the brainchild of Michelle Luo, a Google product manager based in Paris, who says the idea came about to create “an engaging way for people to learn about art and unleash their creative energies.” And with most of us trapped indoors, it makes sense as we all search for things to do. “Give the current situation,” she told Travel + Leisure, it can hopefully bring some joy into people’s days in their homes.”

Luo is also behind Google’s wildly successful Art Selfie project, which took the internet by storm a few years back. This tool, like Art Transfer, brought art to life by using technology to find a piece of art that matched a selfie user's photo when they uploaded it to the app. “We believe AI can be a powerful tool in the hands of artists, museums, and curators to create new experience and unlock art for everyone, and we aim to connect not only these artists with the latest technologies, but also everyone who has a camera in their pocket,” said Luo.

In addition to Art Selfie and Art Transfer, Google Arts and Culture has a ton of other features. “Working with an amazing set of cultural institutions, we created an augmented reality powered feature called 'Pocket Galleries' last year,” Luo said. “Now, for instance, anyone can use the free Google Arts & Culture app on their phone to see all of Vermeer’s works displayed in one virtual gallery that you can explore from your living room.

And that’s not all the app offers, Luo told T+L. “For instance, yesterday I used Art Projector to imagine what a Modigliani would look like above my piano. And I took a photo of my closet and filtered it through Art Palette, generating artworks that matched the colors of my style.” So if you’re using this time to start planning a remodel, Luo says go for it. “Let the redecoration plans begin!”

Updated by
Tanner Saunders
Tanner Saunders headshot

Tanner Saunders is a Brooklyn-based travel editor and writer who has worked for Travel + Leisure, The Points Guy, Thrillist, and more.

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