3 Artsy Apps for iOS, and They're FREE!

There are some works of art that just speaks to you. Some things that, when you see it, it reaches into your eyes, through your brain, and grabs your heart. It's kind of like love, but without the mess.

The problem with art is that, again like love, it's hard to define. What makes a portrait of a woman with a hint of a smile a work of art and the portrait of Aunt Sophie you produced when you were a kid...um, cute? The artist's skill? There is that, but it's more than just skill.

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Artists are able to capture the essence of an emotion and express that essence in their preferred medium. So, while your scrawling of Aunt Sophie may bear a vague resemblance, if it does not capture the essence of your dear aunt, it is arguably not art. (Your proud parents may differ on that point.)

If I may continue to draw parallels, a person can live without love, but who would really want to? So it is true for art. Everyone can appreciate art though not everyone appreciates all art. It reminds me of a great scene in Steve Martin's L.A. Story where his character, Harris Telemacher, gives his critique of a painting in a museum in an attempt to impress his love interest, Sara.

I like the relationships. I mean, each character has his own story. The puppy is a bit too much, but you have to over look things like that in these kinds of paintings. The way he's *holding* her... it's almost... filthy. I mean, he's about to kiss her and she's pulling away. The way the leg's sort of smashed up against her...Phew...Look how he's painted the blouse sort of translucent. You can just make out her breasts underneath and it's sort of touching him about here. It's really... pretty torrid, don't you think? Then of course you have the onlookers peeking at them from behind the doorway like they're all shocked. They wish. Yeah, I must admit, when I see a painting like this, I get emotionally... erect.

The painting he's describing turns out to be a big red rectangle.

Art, then, is an expression of emotion revealed through various mediums by the skill of the artist. Or something like that.

Regardless of the definition, appreciating art is something we all do in one way or another. If you like paintings and sculptures then you're in luck because this week I'll talk about three apps that promote the appreciation of said art. So lets get to it.

Arts Days [8.5 MB, all iOS devices iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts]

Arts Days

There have been artists almost as long as there have been humans, maybe even before we started walking erect. So it would stand to reason that there would be at least one artful event every day of the year. Arts Days points out at least one artsy event per day for the whole year.

Each highlighted event comes complete with a history and photo related to the topic. You can bookmark your favorites, share via the usual suspects, even add the event to your own calendar. Of course you can scan forward or backwards to check out future of passed articles.

Arts Days365 Art did-you-knows!

Here's a nice feature; I mentioned that each event come with a picture. That's true, and if you rotate your device to landscape the pict enlarges and you get a description. But that's not all. Back in portrait orientation you'll notice a play icon next to the pict, tap it and be treated to a short movie related to the event. How cool is that?

Arts Days is a fun app that keeps dishing out art goodness 365 days a year. Grab it.

Guggenheim [4.4 MB, (Note: This app will need 173mb of data space) all iOS devices iOS 5.1 or later, Maker: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation]


If you are ever in the NYC area then you must pay a visit to the Guggenheim Museum. It's a unique building, a work of art in itself really.

As with any museum of decent size the Guggenheim has exhibits and permanent displays and so getting a program and schedule can help you plan your visit is a wise thing to do. This is the Age of the iPhone, however, so even getting schedule info from the internet is so passé. If you're going to the Guggenheim then all you need is your iDevice and The Guggenheim app.

The app supplies programs, exhibits, and other useful info, including a really nice interactive map of the museum, as you might expect, but there's also detailed info about all the permanently displayed artwork complete with zoomable photos of the art so you can study it up close.

GuggenheimExhibits and more await in Guggenheim app

And there's still more. When you visit the museum your iDevice can act as a guide. Tap in the stop number and info about the artwork is downloaded and played on your device. Cool! It'll be even cooler when the museum incorporates iBeacons, Apple's Bluetooth base near-field system that allows info to be automagically transferred.

There's a lot more hidden it the Guggenheim app. Be warned, the basic app is 4.3mb, but once installed it then downloads another 173mb of data, and it will get wifi chatty if you use it as a guide so make sure you charge up your phone before your visit.

ARART [40.3 MB, (Note: This app will need another 455mb of data space) all iOS devices iOS 5.1 or later, Maker: Matilde INC]


I was on the fence about whether I should feature this app or not because, well, it doesn't do a lot right now. But I decided to include it because it is interesting and deserves a look-see.

As the name implies, ARART app is a mashup of Artificial Reality and Art, and there's great potential usefulness by combining the two. The app uses the iDevice camera to "see" a piece of artwork, the Mona Lisa for example. What happens then is a bit of artwork in itself. On your iDevice the seen artwork comes to life. Mona Lisa taps her fingers and winks at you. More happens, but I don't want to spoil the fun.

ARARTThe Great Wave Off Kanagawa reimagined in ARART

Unfortunately the AR part only works on a select few pictures, ten to be exact. The app's description implied that stuff would happen on other objects you may have around the house, but that's just not so. Hence my reluctance to include the app here. Also, like the Guggenheim app, ARART downloads data after its installed, 455mb worth!

Still, its a fun app to play with for a bit before deleting it from your device so if you have the time and space you should take a look.

And that's a wrap for this week. Be sure to also check out this week's Free App of the Week, Angry Birds: Star Wars. Always a fun time. And take a free listen to this week's free Single of the week from Christina Perry, Something About December.