Musée du Louvre, Art Lite, SketchBook Mobile X and More.

What is art?

A guy can put together various pieces of trash, spray paint it purple and mount it on a pedestal, but is it art?

Some people may think so. Then the question becomes, "what do people see that makes a thing art?"

When Leonardo DaVinci scribbled notes while noshing on a mutton sandwich I'm sure he wasn't thinking, "Yeah Buddy! Here's another masterpiece!". He was doing the equivalent of modern day brainstorming over lunch and sketching on a napkin. His doodles and brain lint wasn't meant to be revered, he was just trying to get some ideas down on paper. Today, we see those doodles as art.

We, the viewer, see things far differently than the person who creates art. A suspicious husband viewing Mona Lisa for the first time may think Mona's hiding something. Maybe she's just come from a secret rendezvous where she had wild buck-nakid sex with Leo, hence the enigmatic smile.

Of course, others see something different in Mona's smile. What each of us see in art is a faceted reflection of ourselves.

This fire hydrant may mean little to me, just a hunk of metal with a bad paint job. and covered with lichen. But you may be reminded of a happier time in you life, perhaps you recall walkees with your childhood dog, Sparky . You may also be reminded of a horrible episode in your past, something you'd just as soon forget, but looking at that hydrant forces that unwanted memory to the surface. And you feel something.

It doesn't even have to be that complicated, we all could just see colors, lines, and details that are pleasing to us, the picture could just make us feel good.

Again, we feel something.

The evocation of emotion, I suppose it doesn't matter which emotion, is the purpose of art. It is, in my opinion, the highest form of communication because through art, we can express and, at least to some degree, understand the widest range of the our inner experiences. It's like a group Vulcan mind meld, only clumsier, but far more enjoyable and somewhat more persistent.

Anyway, as you may well have guessed by now, I like art and art will be the subject of this week's Free on iTunes.

I had first wanted to point you to some pretty nice art related podcasts, but then I ran across 3 apps that I really think you should look at.

The first is Musée du Louvre.

OK, I gotta tell you my Paris Story: A few years back I was traveling back a forth to Israel on business. Before you get the notion that I'm some kinda world traveling business hotshot let me set the record straight: It was a one time, once in a lifetime deal that I just lucked into. Since then the furtherest I've gone on business travel is San Francisco, which was cool enough in its own right, and it may seem like a strange place to some, but it's not a foreign country.

Anyway, on my last trip to Israel I took a day to spend in Paris. I fell in love with the city,

I had planned to visit at least 3 sites and I had picked a hotel that should have been fairly close to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and The Louvre. As luck would have it, it rained the whole time I was there, I got soaked, and I only managed to see the Eiffel Tower. Even so, I felt absolutely alive in Paris and I vowed to take a real vacation there someday.

There's more to the story, but I won't bore you with it. In the meantime. while I'm waiting for someday to get here, I can visit The Louvre virtually, anytime I want, on my iPhone, and so can you.

Musée du Louvre is absolutely a superb app that provides us with nearly everything we need to know about the Louvre and the works of art therein. Navigation is easy; use a Cover Flow interface to select from the four major areas of interest: Visitor Information, The Palace, Artworks, and A tour of The Louvre. There's also an easy access to bookmarks so you can go directly to your favorite spots.

Each section provides details and beautiful high resolution photos and videos of the information contained within. Select Artworks, for instance, and you can examine a large selection of paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art up close and personal.

This app begs for a screen larger than the iPhone's. (Are you listening Apple? Where's that infamous tablet?) You can literally spend hours pouring over the information contain in Musée du Louvre and I find it hard to believe that the app free.

I can't do this app justice with any amount of words. You'll just have to download it and see for yourself.

You need to get Musée du Louvre.

While you're at it go ahead and pick up ( or download) Art Lite. It's not quite as cool at Musée du Louvre, but Art Lite is a nice app in its own right.

Art Lite is a database containing over 700 works of art from 10 renowned artists. You can view the biographies of all the artists and examine their most influential works. Use the iPhone's touch controls, like pinching, to really get in close to see details.

There's a nice slideshow mode that randomly picks paintings for show, you can create your own gallery, kind of like a playlist, of your favorite pieces, and there's even a quiz game included.

All of that for free!!

There is a paid version that contain more art and artists.

Art Lite, like Musée du Louvre, is an absolute must-have for any art lover.

OK, so you like looking at great works from great artists and all, but you're not so bad yourself around a paintbrush, and maybe you, like good old Leonardo, would like to work out some artsy ideas while chewing on a cheeseburger.

You could use one of the many doodle apps available, but you need something more than that, you want brushes and pencils, airbrushes, and paints, not a box of crayons. You want to create multiple layers, as if you were using onion skin paper, not kindergarten easel paper. In short, you want an art package that will let your creativity run wild. You want it on your iPhone, and you want it for free.

Gotcha covered: SketchBook Mobile X.

SketchBook Mobile X, from AutoDesk, the folks who create industry standard graphics software like Maya, is an amazing app that gives you free reign to create some dazzling pictures.

My sample below was created in just a few minutes after installing the app, it's that easy to use. There's a nice array of tools that are always available, and you can create your own palette of colors to work from.

Expand you canvas to work details, and add a layer so as not to mess up what you've already done. There's 10 levels of undo, brush size selection, you can even import a photo or other art and "play" with it.

When you're done creating your masterpiece you can save it to be exported.

SketchBook Mobile X would be a great app on a full blown desktop computer and it amazes me how much functionality AutoDesk crammed into this app.

If you draw, paint, sketch, or doodle, you want SketchBook Mobile X on your iPhone.

OK, that's a wrap for this week. Next week is Thanksgiving and I won't have a Free on iTunes issue available.

I know, I know, you are depressed at the thought of not finishing out your week with Free on iTunes, but look at it this way, you'll be so full of turkey that you won't really care.

I'll have a new issue of Free on iTunes in two weeks. Have a great holiday and be safe.

More free stuff from the iTunes Store below, with direct links.