From the NY Times, August 25, 2013 (exerpted)
I'm recommending one of my personal favorites, the Art Authority at the bottom of the post. You can zoom in and really see these pantings close-up. - Ken
By J. D. BIERSDORFER
This year is the golden anniversary of a classic art-education text, “Interaction of Color,” by Josef Albers, a Bauhaus artist who left Germany for the United States in 1933. His influential book of color theory was originally published by Yale University Press as a limited silk-screen edition in 1963 and became a paperback in 1971. Now, INTERACTION OF COLOR has arrived as an engaging immersive iPad app (one chapter free to try; $9.99 for the full app).
Color theory also comes into play in VAN GOGH’S DREAM ($9.99 for iPad), an inventive multimedia biography of the artist and his techniques. Text, high-resolution images, digitized letters, dynamic maps and video clips from experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam combine to recount the life of the volatile Dutch Post-Impressionist.
As with any solid educational app, “Van Gogh’s Dream” shows as well as it tells. In the section about his methods, the text explains: “To create a harmonious painting, yet exaggerating the hues to enhance their power of expression, van Gogh used his own formula based on a play of contrasts between complementary colors.” A touch-sensitive chromatic wheel on the same screen lets users instantly change the hues on a sample canvas to see the effects of color contrast in action. (Although this app is currently iPad-only, van Gogh enthusiasts toting Android devices can get a biography and 800 photographs of his paintings with the free VAN GOGH GALLERY app.)
As great as tablets can be for touch-based actions, today’s sharp color screens also show off detailed photographs and images quite nicely. For students and art lovers looking for a general guide that doesn’t strain the shoulder, there’s ART AUTHORITY ($9.99 for iPad; $4.99 for iPhone and Kindle Fire), featuring the work of more than 1,000 major Western artists from ancient to contemporary times.
The app’s overall visual design isn’t particularly original: tappable paintings on a museum wall lead to eight different historical art periods. But it conveniently rounds up images of some 65,000 paintings and sculptures, and information related to them. Images can be expanded to full-screen views for greater appreciation. Earnest (but not infallible) background particulars and artist biographies come courtesy of Wikipedia.
True, apps can’t replace the experience of gazing at art in person. They can, however, bring art closer to the curious in other ways.