5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now

What better time for practicing optimism than the start of a new year? With that in mind, this list of recommended Instagram feeds focus...

What better time for practicing optimism than the start of a new year? With that in mind, this list of recommended Instagram feeds focuses on travel photography both geographic and psychological; a brilliant philosophical comic strip; a chronicler of Black life; a talented young accordionist; and the glorious funerary monuments of old New York. We hope they’ll help get you through the long post-holiday winter.

The former New York Times art critic Ken Johnson is painting these days, and you can find his beguiling Op Art-style gouaches on Instagram. If you scroll down far enough, you can also read the brilliant comic strip that gave his account its name. Exchanging deceptively spare bits of dialogue, Mr. Johnson’s pair of anthropomorphic shapes and other characters dispense with mysteries of language and consciousness that have bedeviled great minds from the philosopher René Descartes to the sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Some of the jokes are straight out of vaudeville — a voice yells “Duck,” enter a duck. But more often the humor comes simply from the incongruity of a grandiose thought in a less-than-grand setting, which to my mind amounts to a pretty good take on the history of Western philosophy.

In some ways Instagram is as commercial as daytime TV. But you can still stumble over people like the young multi-instrumentalist Narges Jajarmi, who says she studied at a conservatory in Tehran before moving to San Francisco about four years ago. Despite her enormous following — more than 100,000 and counting — there remains something endearingly homespun about the snippets of music she posts. Playing her own moody compositions and a few well-known standards on accordion, piano, or the occasional handpan, Ms. Jajarmi mugs for the camera with what I can only call infectious sincerity. She captions most pieces, too, with bits of evocative, free-associative poetry. (She writes in Farsi, but Instagram’s auto-translate feature is enough to give you the gist.) Prepare to be charmed.

Working between St. Louis and Miami, the documentary photographer Vanessa Charlot records the everyday lives of communities of color. It’s a project that’s had more than its share of anguish in 2020, and Ms. Charlot is unflinching: Her images of Black Lives Matter protests, usually focused on a single demonstrator and often accompanied by a heartfelt short text, capture the movement’s life and death stakes like few other media I’ve seen. Because she always shoots in black and white, too, her photos also demonstrate the power of the literal color black, with its grandeur and stark visual impact, to convey the breadth and substance of Black life.

The prettiest view of New York Harbor is from a hilltop in South Brooklyn. If you find the right spot, ideally in October, you discover a small but unmistakable Statue of Liberty poking up among a vibrant crowd of other 19th-century statuary enmeshed in red and orange leaves. But at nearly 500 acres and almost two centuries old, Green-Wood Cemetery is so rich in beautiful vistas like this that you could spend weeks there without even getting to the harbor view on Battle Hill. During the pandemic especially, it’s been a resource for New Yorkers starved of natural beauty and fresh air. But if you’re too far away — or even if you’re there right now — I recommend their wonderful Instagram feed, which combines official and visitors’ photos, information for bird-watchers, capsule histories of the cemetery’s monuments and residents, and the occasional haiku about a Japanese larch.

Follow Will Heinrich on Instagram at @willvheinrich.

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Newsrust: 5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now
5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now
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