Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan told The Washington Post that the feature was an idea someone had last year and was incorporated into the app with little fanfare. Its popularity has been completely organic, he added.
“We’re always trying to figure out cool and interesting ways to get people talking about art, and this was one of them,” Lenihan said.
In recent days, scores of people — including plenty of celebrities — have shared their often hilarious results on social media, helping Google Arts & Culture climb the App Store’s charts to become the most downloaded free app.
Quite a few were pleased with their matches. According to the app, comedian Kumail Nanjiani was a 59 percent match with a mixed-media portrait of Mohammed Al Mazrouie at the Barjeel Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates.
“Hey this one ain’t so bad,” Nanjiani tweeted.
Musician Pete Wentz and actress Felicia Day seemed generally satisfied about their results.
“Feel real strong about my 40%,” Wentz tweeted of a match that paired him with a self-portrait of Rembrandt.
But the app has delivered matches that had some wondering whether it was intentionally trolling them. As Mashable’s Brian Koerber discovered, uploading different selfies (“the less flattering the photo, the better”) often resulted in different, equally amusing results.
And, lest you run out of faces to make, the app doesn’t just deliver results for humans.