Art Authority is a magical interface to the world of art, all beautifully displayed on an Apple iPad. It expands the capability of an already excellent app for the iPhone and makes the art even more immediate, displayed in a virtual art gallery. The app, while no substitute for viewing real art in person, can introduce the curious and expand their horizons considerably.
Om March 2, I reviewed Art Authority for the iPhone, and I was blown away. Before all you technical people shy away and reach for your iPad SDK and Chess boards, let me tell you that this app is not something to be overlooked or glossed over like, say, a bad chick-flick.
The Main Entrance
Instead, Art Authority for iPad takes you on a seductive tour of a beautifully displayed art gallery, complete with hardwood floors, halogen floodlights, and a leather covered bench. There are over 40,000 works of art available from over 1,000 artists. You can explore eras of art and select a style and time in history that may appeal to you — for example, all the way from the 15th century religious art of Jan van Eyck up to the modern, SciFi art of Frank Frazetta. Even if you have a preconceived notion that art is fuzzy, non-technical and ancient, you may well come away admiring the works of just a few. And if you develop an appreciation of just one or two artists, that’s all anyone can ask.
For more complete background on the philosophy of the app, copyright issues, and a Q&A session with Alan Oppenheimer of Open Door Networks, see the review of the iPhone/iPod touch version.
The iPad Version
What the iPad allows is an even more aggressive visual approach to the art that’s displayed. The virtual art galley creates a sense of presence and creates new interface opportunities, such as the index of authors on the metal stand.
Overview popover (also: touch the stand to see list of artists)
Just as with the iPhone version, you can enable the Ken Burns effect, run a slide show, save a work of art to the Photo.app and then use it as the lock screen (and home screen on the iPad). You can view a single piece of art as if it were hanging on the wall, with thumbnails of all works by that author at the side. Or you can just touch it to bring up a full screen view against black. The info button (i) at the bottom will take you to Wikipedia so you can learn more about that artist.
Navigation is particularly easy. The back arrow at the top always takes you back to the main wall of the art gallery. The gears button shows all the art by that author on page, steps through the art, or expands to full screen. Expanding to full screen brings up a whole slew of new icons at the bottom that are a delight to explore.
Once you start exploring, you’ll be drawn in. You’ll start to find things that you knew you didn’t ever like, but you’ll also find gems that could well broaden your horizons. For example, I discovered the sailing ship art of William Bradford. Why did that appeal to me? Because I’m a big fan of the Horatio Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester — as well as the movies. You see, there’s synergy to be found in art. I also discovered Leonid Tishkov who offers a unique slant on astronomy and aliens. It was also fun to go through the collected works of Norman Rockwell. There is something for everyone in this app.
Gear icon for view options
Full screen view with more options (icons) along the bottom
There you have it. Something to be treasured and explored. Something to introduce you to another world that you may have never had time to explore. And, the best part? If you meet someone who invites you to the local art gallery, you may actually have developed an appreciation for just a few artists — instead of being a complete dunce. This app is proof that the term magical, when applied to the iPad, is hardly a stretch of the imagination.
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