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Big upgrade to Art Authority museum

The heart of Art Authority for iPad is its 70,000-work, nine-room virtual museum. “Patrons” of the museum have been known to literally spend days “wandering” through the app’s professionally designed period-specific rooms. While they’ve been doing so, we’ve  also been hard at work on improvements to those rooms (unlike a real museum, we don’t ever have to close in the process). And we’re now excited to be announcing and rolling our big museum upgrade..

The 2014 Art Authority for iPad museum upgrade is both functional and aesthetic. The first thing you might notice is that in each period room there is a new directory, replacing the previous artist list. This directory is similar to the one that has always been located in the lobby. Like that directory, it lets you browse and search by artist, title, subject, or location.


The lobby directory has always been for the museum as a whole. Each of the new room directories lets you browse and search just within that room. So if you’re in the Renaissance room for example, you can view all Renaissance works that come from the Louvre. Or you can search in the Baroque room for all works entitled  “Last Supper.”


Not only do the rooms work better, but they look better too. We’ve upgraded the wallpaper and added new adornments to many of the rooms. Under iOS 7, we’ve also added subtle but cool 3-D motion effects.


The combination of all these enhancements makes for an even more immersive art exploration experience. Check them all out in Art Authority for iPad 4.9.2, available today through the App Store.

Interns in real life

Art Authority’s president, Alan Oppenheimer, and his wife Priscilla just got back from a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. Combining business with pleasure, they presented the company’s wares at the Pitch 2013 startup show at AT&T Park, met with the foremost authority on Jan Brueghel the Elder at Berkeley, met with representatives of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco about the National Docent Symposium they’re hosting next month (more on that later), and saw the Diebenkorn and “Impressionists on the Water” exhibits at the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor respectively.

They also had a real life dinner with two of the participants in this year’s Summer Intern Program. We pride ourselves in the worldwide reach of our apps and our programs. The Art Authority database includes works from nearly a thousand museums and other art sites, our Art Authority apps bring that art to users around the world, our Art Alert app helps bring users around the world to that art. And our intern program this year included interns from as far east as the United Kingdom and as far west as New Zealand. We feel great about the difference we’re making worldwide. But every so often it’s really nice to just be able to sit down with people in real life and have dinner!

Dinner with interns in Berkeley

Paintings stolen from the Gardner Museum, Real Size

Earlier this year, the FBI put together a Web site to ask for help recovering paintings stolen 23 years earlier from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. A big piece of the Web site is a slide show of those works.

But, as is almost always the case, it’s very hard to get a feel for the size of works of art when shown online. For instance the fact that the stolen Rembrandt self-portrait is little bigger than your thumb.

With Art Authority for iPad’s new “Art Real Size” feature, now you can easily get that important feel.

We’ve also put together a video similar to the FBI’s, showing how the works appear in Art Authority for iPad.

The main reason we designed and implemented Art Real Size is to help people better understand and connect with works of art by better understanding the real size of those works. In this case, perhaps Art Real Size will also contribute in some small way to the works’ recovery and re-introduction into the art world, so people can once again see them real size for real. Here’s hoping anyway.

Fun and Understanding with Art Real Size

Here’s a special guest post from Julie Turgeon, one of the students participating in year 3 of the Art Authority Summer Intern Program:

We’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with Art Authority’s new Art Real Size feature this week. The tool completely transforms how art is viewed in a digital environment, adding what others have failed to provide thus far: a tangible dimension connecting the viewer to the works on-­screen. Exploring some of Art Authority’s 65,000 artworks with Art Real Size revealed some delightful surprises about some of our most beloved works. We’ve listed a few here to give you a taste of the capabilities of the new feature:

Art Real Size - Monet

1. Claude Monet’s larger-­than-­life-­sized Camille (The Woman in the Green Dress) was one of the artist’s earliest pieces. Painted and exhibited in 1866, the portrait boldly announced Monet’s arrival in the Parisian art scene. At that time, it was unheard of, almost risible, to paint someone who was neither of noble nor of privileged birth at such an impressive scale.

Art Real Size - Seurat 2Art Real Size - Seurat 1

2. Fellow Frenchman Georges Seurat’s paintings exhibit great range in size. The diminutive Eiffel Tower, for example, could fit inside his monumental masterpiece A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte 177 times, with wiggle-­room to spare! It took Seurat over two years to paint La Grande Jatte, and numerous sketches and studies exist dispersed throughout the world’s art museums (but conveniently at our disposal on the Art Authority app and community site). Seurat continually altered the composition of the pleasant waterfront scene as he progressed in his work, adding, for example, more bustle to the dress worn by the woman on the right-­hand side of the painting, reflecting the ever-­ shifting fashions of the era. Remarkably considering the scalar dissimilarities, both of Seurat’s works are composed of the same miniscule multi-­colored dots that became the defining characteristic of Pointillist paintings.

Art Real Size - Sully

3. Passage of the Delaware by Thomas Sully easily eclipses Seurat’s La Grande Jatte in size. The enormous historical painting has posed problems for the institutions wishing to display it since its completion in 1819. Originally commissioned by the state of North Carolina, the painting was refused because it would not fit in the allotted space in the state’s Senate Hall. Today, it rests placidly in a section of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, accommodated by the wing’s exceptionally high ceilings. The eleven-­day ordeal of hanging Sully’s most famous painting is documented on YouTube, and made the local news.

4. Andy Warhol used size to make a statement, although in a different way than Monet’s avant-­garde statement of artistic prowess and vision or Sully’s patriotic eulogy. Warhol’s whopping 15-­foot portrait of Mao Zedong, currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, scathingly critiques the overblown reputation and attention given to celebrities and prominent political figures such as the notorious communist leader. Mao’s gaudy maquillage adds an additional dimension of absurdity to the colossal canvas (we can’t show you the Art Real Size version here because this work remains under copyright).

Art Real Size - Mona Lisa

5. A post about size wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. She has gained quite a reputation for stunning the Louvre’s visitors with her small size, seemingly unfit for one of the best-­known paintings in the world. Eager museum-­goers bump and jostle shoulders, step on each other’s toes, and crane their necks over the perpetual gallery throng to get a glimpse at the iconic portrait and to experience the sensation of having Mona Lisa’s eyes follow them as they move through the room. The guidebook aphorism rings true: the posters sold in Parisian gift shops are larger than the actual painting! Fittingly, perhaps, scientists chose to recreate da Vinci’s Mona Lisa for the smallest painting ever. Astoundingly, they succeeded in creating a version of the painting that is half the width of a strand of human hair. Read more about the record-­breaking feat on the Huffington Post.

Appreciating a painting’s size is an indispensible component of interpreting a work of art. Art Real Size helps to bridge the gap between experiencing a work of art in person and seeing it on a digital platform by providing a visual tool through which the viewer can relate more viscerally to digital reproductions. We here at Art Authority are hooked on Art Real Size already, and are delighted to finally introduce this vital feature to our user community.


Must-See Works of Art at the Louvre, Real Size

Last year, the Huffington post ran an article and slide show celebrating the Louvre’s 219th anniversary. We thought for its 220th (August 10, 2013) we’d take advantage of Art Authority for iPad’s new “Art Real Size” feature to show you what that article, and almost all representation of art to date, are missing.

The Huffington Post article, “10 Must-See Works Of Art At The Louvre” is an excellent one, but, like most others before it, it doesn’t quite give you the whole picture. Courtesy of our updated Art Authority for iPad app, you can now see what you’ve been missing:

We’ve also posted a similar video.

See! The whole picture. If you can make it to the Louvre, and find these works, you absolutely should. If not, Art Authority for iPad with Art Real Size is the next best way to fully understand and appreciate the works. Size matters!

Millais work acquisition shows advantage of art going digital

Earlier this week the Ashmolean Museum announced the acquisition of one of the major works of British Romantic artist John Millais. The 1854 portrait of John Ruskin had previously been in private hands.


Within minutes of becoming aware of the acquisition, we here at Art Authority were able to change the location of the work within our database, and add a link to an article describing the acquisition. So, the same day as the announcement, Art Authority users browsing Millais works, or looking at works from the Romantic period (perhaps through “shuffle”) or even coming across the work through an “Art Like This” search, would get the correct and enhanced information. And Art Alert users, checking out what art they could view in the Oxford area, would see that the work is available at the Ashmolean.

Think how this type of information would have propagated in the pre-digital art world (or, actually, how it will propagate in the remaining part of that world). Catalogs would have to be changed. New revisions of art history textbooks would have to published. Professors would have to change their slides. And the information would still remain inaccurate (will still remain inaccurate) in many places for years if not decades.

But in the new world where art is digital, the change is nearly instantaneous. Art Authority’s president and founder, Alan Oppenheimer, has been giving talks on the many advantages when “Art Goes Digital,” most recently at Macworld/iWorld and Cal State East Bay. It looks like there will need to be a new bullet item added to those talks: the near-immediate update of information when things change!

(Art Authority is of course only one example of art going digital. But we’re proud to say that we even beat Wikipedia with the updated information!)

How Art Authority can help make you $5 million

The FBI announced yesterday that it had made significant progress towards solving the greatest art theft of all time: the 1990 heist of 13 major works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. 23 years to the day later, the FBI is definitely getting closer, with the help of a $5 million award “for information that leads directly to the recovery of all of our items in good condition.”

This is where you and Art Authority can come in. By running the app on an iPad with a retina display, you can view images of these works in as much detail as just about anyone else in the world; perhaps even as much detail as the FBI themselves. Who knows, maybe there’s a missed clue there somewhere. Regardless, you can certainly enjoy some great and historic works of art while dreaming of riches at the same time.

Stolen works included in Art Authority in high resolution are:

  • Degas, La Sortie de Pesage
  • Govaert Flinck, Landscape with an Obelisk, 1638
  • Manet, Chez Tortoni, 1878–1880
  • Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, c. 1634
  • Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633
  • Rembrandt, A Lady and Gentleman in Black, 1633
  • Vermeer, The Concert, c. 1664


Comparing Art Authority and Art Alert

Now that our new Art Alert app is out, we’ve been getting questions about the differences between it and our award-winning Art Authority app (“Best iPad reference app of 2011”). The LA Times recently called Art Alert a “companion app” to Art Authority, and the two do work best together. But each app is great on its own too.

Here’s the simplest way to look at things:

Art Authority brings the world’s best art to you, and Art Alert brings you to the world’s best art.

Here are the main similarities between to two:

  • Both use the Art Authority database of nearly 60,000 paintings and sculptures, 1000+ western artists and 500+ museums and other art locations. 
  • Both present that artwork full-screen and in scrolling thumbnail arrays, with detailed captions (title, artist, date, etc.)

And here are the main differences:

  • Art Authority is a very general app for exploring, learning about, and enjoying art and art history. Art Alert is much more specific, focused on helping you find, preview and get to that art in the real world.
  • Art Alert has an easy-to-use, map-based user interface. Art Authority, especially on the iPad, has a “visually dazzling” virtual museum-based user interface with a wide variety of features.
  • Art Authority displays works from “Private Collections” and unknown and obscure locations, as well as the world’s top museums and other locations that Art Alert displays works from.
  • Art Authority additional features include access by period, artist name, title, subject and even “Art Like This.” Also automated slide shows with Ken Burns motion effect, highlights, shuffle, period overviews, and Prints on Demand (some of these features are specific to the iPad version).
  • Art Alert’s additional features help you get to the real art in the real world. Things like directions, search by city or country, and the ability to call a location directly on your iPhone.
  • Art Authority provides information on individual works of art, artists, and locations. Art Alert provides details on location, above and beyond those provided by Art Authority.
  • Art Authority downloads and displays a retina-quality version of the work where available, through our “smArt resolution” technology.

Art Alert can automatically run Art Authority if you have Art Authority installed. Just hit the “View this collection in Art Authority” button. You can then use Art Authority to explore related context, get more detail on works, view slide shows, etc. The best of both worlds!



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