Museum-hopper and photographer Stefan Draschan wanders galleries, keeping an eye out for people unintentionally matching the art they’re observing. He’s amassed a collection of striking photographs of people coordinating with art in museums across the world.
“Museums are my natural habitat,” says photographer Stefan Draschan. “I like museums’ silence and how there isn’t pollution or danger from cars, which dominate most of the other public spaces in our civilization.” Over the years he’s surreptitiously documented the social dynamics that emerge in art museums–fatigued visitors catching 40 winks, people touching the artwork, and groups of three admiring pieces in unison. One of his longest-running and most evocative series is called People Matching Artworks, an exploration of coincidental coordination between paintings and their admirers.
Sometimes it’s the color palette of their clothes that matches one of the paintings. Other times, it’s the color and texture of their hair. There are cases when even the pattern of the clothes is strikingly similar to the one in the artwork! But regardless of the type of similarity, all these photos have something in common: they are all fun and clever. And for each of them, Stefan stands still and waits for the perfect moment to capture them.
Scroll down to see this ongoing project for yourself and beware – Stefan Draschan might be somewhere out there “hunting” for you!
He isn’t a street-style photographer but rather the mastermind behind the popular blog People Matching Artworks. As the blog’s name suggests, Draschan captures the serendipitous encounters between works of art and museumgoers who match one another—if he can get the right shot.
The People Matching Artworks project has been ongoing since 2015, with photos taken in different museums. Stefan is originally from Austria, and so far he has lived in Vienna, Berlin and Paris. But he says his real home are museums everywhere. So, his photos from the project have mainly been captured in the museums of these three cities.
The project first began in summer 2014, Draschan tells AD. “I saw and captured the first match: a guy sitting in front of a Georges Braque in Berlin. Six months later in Munich, I saw a guy who looked like the huge Greek vase behind him, and then in Vienna, I was breathless when I discovered a woman sitting in front of a Vermeer,” says the photographer. “It then became clear that I would systematically look out for more of these coincidences.” After photographing the same museums for the past couple of years, Draschan has developed a firm grasp of their layouts, and can almost predict the pattern patrons will follow. If he spots a subject across the room, he will follow them until they align with a work he has already worked out in his mind. The resulting works play with color, form, pattern, and size to emphasize the corresponding elements between the art and the subject.
Though he took up photography only four years ago as a way to occupy his hands after he quit smoking, Draschan has always had an eye for design and a talent for being in tune with his surroundings. Before working as an artist and photographer full time, he worked as a journalist and a teacher, “but nothing with a real enthusiasm like I have now,” he notes. In addition to People Matching Artworks, he also runs People Touching Artworks, People Sleeping in Museums, Cars Matching Homes, and The Three Graces, in addition to a few other projects. For all the time and effort that he puts in, the resulting photos are certainly worth it.
Speaking on how long it usually takes to find “the perfect match.” As you can probably imagine – it depends on the luck. Sometimes, he’d spot the match as he steps through the museum’s entrance door. Other times, he says he’d wait for so long, that he would “start counting the stars on Canaletto’s night views of Venice, which are over 3000.”
Some people thought that these photos were staged, but Stefan says no.
Draschan employs a methodical process in his compositions, which he explains on his Tumblr. Stefan is a street photographer, and he says he spots the person first. This happens before he chooses the artwork, without an exception. Then he waits for the person to approach the matching piece of art.
“I can predict with a certain certainty if a person will be attracted to an artwork or not,” he says. “I usually don’t plan anything, I just let it happen.”
He says he loves the chance and accidental matches, and he used the same approach in his series Cars matching homes. The closest he got to staging was when he would get dressed like artworks or people in them and posed for photos. However, after two attempts he realized he didn’t get any satisfaction from this approach. Plus, he says it’s a lot more work.
Draschan’s work starts with seeing, and perhaps his series will inspire you to view your surroundings anew. “My ideas come out of observation,” he says. “The eyes, like everything, can be very well trained.” To see more, visit check out his site here.