Art Authority Blog
A quarter century of Open Doors
You likely now know us as Art Authority, but we got our start 25 years ago today as Open Door Networks, Inc. On January 4, 1995, Open Door’s founder, Alan Oppenheimer, left Apple Computer and Silicon Valley to move to Ashland Oregon and start a company to help Macintosh users experience a new communications and information system, “the Internet.” Alan had helped build the original Mac’s similar system (“AppleTalk”) and hoped he could bring that system’s user-focus, ease-of-use and security to Mac users as they joined the fledgling Internet.
The new company, and its AppleTalk-based Internet access system, was announced at Macworld in San Francisco on that day in 1995. It’s been a long, strange, 25-year trip since then. Not only was the Internet just getting started, but a new publishing and e-commerce system called the world wide web was just being rolled out as well. Open Door helped Mac users, and Apple itself, not just surf the Internet and Web, but also publish on it by turning the Macintosh into a world-class Web server. A series of server utilities followed (WebDoor, HomeDoor, LogDoor and MailDoor). Open Door also hosted a number of the earliest web sites.
Reading the handwriting written large and bold on the world wide web wall, Open Door worked with Apple on utilities to help Mac users migrate from AppleTalk-based networks to ones using Internet (IP) protocols. The next sign post was pretty clear too, reading “Be safe out there.” Thanks to its initial design, the Mac was already the most secure way to access the Internet, but Open Door’s DoorStop Personal Firewall helped further secure Macs against an ever-growing variety of international Internet evil-doers. DoorStop, licensed by Internet security company Symantec, became the basis of a suite of Macintosh Internet security products, including the book “Internet Security for Your Macintosh.”
Meanwhile, back in our home town of Ashland, Oregon, Open Door helped the city plan and roll out a city-wide fiber-optic network, and we used that network to provide free, wireless Internet access at the local Starbucks, perhaps the first Starbucks anywhere to provide that now-omnipresent service. We also used the network for one of the first-ever July 4 parade webcasts.
In early 2004, Alan and Open Door were asked to present a keynote talk, “A History of Macintosh Networking” at the Mac’s 20th anniversary celebration. The presentation was again at Macworld, where the company had been introduced nine years before.
In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, the biggest change to computing (and society in general) since the personal computer. It was immediately clear that Open Door had a role to play with that world-changing device, but it wasn’t clear what that role was. We had an app available day one of the App Store (iEnvision), and would introduce over 100 apps within the first year. But by the time of Apple’s next game-changer, the iPad in 2010, it was clear that our classic-art viewing app was the big winner.
We just didn’t know how big! Available again on day one, Art Authority for iPad would be featured by Apple many times, and win the Apple Rewind award as best reference app two years in a row. The educational version, Art Authority K-12, would be highlighted by Apple VP Phil Schiller in a keynote at the Guggenheim Museum, and iPhone and Mac versions would follow, along with a curated version for the Apple TV, Art Channel. The Art Authority database would grow to over 100,000 works of art from nearly 1000 museums.
We were pleased and honored by the difference we were able to make at this new intersection of art and technology. Things got even more interesting when the real art authorities found us. We ended up changing the name of the company to Art Authority LLC, acquiring the pioneering fine art retailer 1000Museums, and making major contributions to the art world in which we are now so firmly entrenched. Our museum-approved archival reproductions are second to none, and we’ve given back hundreds of thousands of dollars directly to the art world in the form of royalties. We’ve also sponsored an internship program for nine years running.
From dial-up Internet to fine art reproduction over a quarter century. Quite the ride. We can’t wait to find out what the next quarter century will bring!
Helping the helpers
Art Authority, through our 1000Museums brand, has been helping museums expand the reach of their collections by providing curator-approved archival reproductions from those collections for a decade now. The museums receive increased exposure along with much-needed revenue through royalties on sales, and art lovers get increased access to the art they love. Many others have been helping the art world in similar ways. Today we’re proud to announce that we’re going to be helping one of those helpers.
I Require Art is a “Digital Arts Platform” consisting of a long-established FaceBook page, blog and set of online galleries. Plus as of today, an online store. That’s where we come in. We have been selected by I Require Art to provide archival reproductions for that store. As you’ll see, I Require Art chooses only a few works for which to offer prints, and makes available only the highest quality reproductions of those works. So it was natural that they would look toward 1000Museums’ proven quality record and set of museum relationships.
We are honored that I Require Art chose us to help them help the art world, and we look forward to a long and expanding relationship.
Art Authority LLC and the National Gallery UK today announced a major new relationship to make museum-quality archival prints of key National Gallery artwork available to US customers through Art Authority’s 1000Museums print-on-demand technologies. The center point of the relationship is the site FocusOnNationalGalleryUK.com. The site, available today, makes dozens of all-time favorite National Gallery works available in five print sizes, with multiple framing options.
As with other 1000Museums “Focus On” sites, FocusOnNationalGalleryUK.com offers a unique curated collection of archival reproductions of works by major artists and institutions, in this case National Gallery works by European masters including Canaletto, Monet, Turner and Van Gogh. Art Authority and the National Gallery worked together to design and curate the site. Additional works and products will be added in the near future.
“To make prints of the National Gallery’s paintings more accessible to customers in the United States, we have chosen to partner with Art Authority and their 1000Museums brand, due to the high quality of their reproductions and knowledge of our collection, as well as their long-established relationships with the art world” said Douglas Gilmore, Trading Director at the National Gallery Company. “We look forward to a long and productive collaboration.”
“We are proud and honored that such a venerable institution as the National Gallery chose us to bring their works to the U.S.” said Stanley Smith, Chief Museum Officer for Art Authority. “We are particularly gratified by their recognition of our commitment to quality and our cutting-edge technologies.”
Art Authority has worked with a number of other institutions and artists’ estates on similar “Focus on” sites including:
• Focus on Frank Lloyd Wright – FocusOnFLW.com
• Focus on Mark Rothko – FocusOnRothko.com
• Focus on Henri Matisse – FocusOnMatisse.com
• Focus on Library of Congress – FocusOnLibraryOfCongress.com
• Focus on Latin American Masters – FocusOnLatinAmericanMasters.com
The full 1000Museums line of fine-art reproductions is available at 1000Museums.com.
Best New Apps
The new Art Authority for iPad 4.10 is one of Apple’s selections this week for “Best New Apps.” Right up there with the likes of MLB.com, Hulu and eBay. Thanks, Apple.
Back to School, Again
For the fourth year in a row, Apple is featuring Art Authority in a Back to School Promotion. This year both Art Authority for iPad and Art Authority for iPhone are featured in the App Store’s new “Kickstart Your School Year” campaign:
Whether you’re starting grade school, finishing your last year of high school, or even teaching a course, this comprehensive collection covers a wide variety of subjects and grade levels to help you start the year on the right foot.
Art Authority is featured near the start of the “Art & Creativity” sections. The apps are particularly useful when combined with the “Lesson Ideas” Apple introduced as part of their “Real World Learning” area (where Art Authority K-12 for iPad is highlighted).
One of the many, many reasons we’re happy to see Art Authority in the new promotion is that it shows that Apple and we are on the same page when it comes to the importance of art education. It was Steve Jobs himself who first talked about the importance of the intersection of technology and liberal arts. Although we were already in complete agreement at the time, we’ve taken what he said to heart and have concentrated even more on that area. Art Authority K-12 and our now wrapping-up fifth year of the Art Authority Summer Internship program are two great examples.
Thanks Steve, thanks Apple, thanks interns, and thanks everyone here at Art Authority.
Apple highlights, provides lesson guides for Art Authority K-12
Today Apple is introducing a new collection in the Education section of the App Store entitled “Real-World Learning.” We’re honored that our Art Authority K-12 for iPad app is one of the five titles they’re featuring. For each app in the collection, Apple has created a free set of lesson plans tailored towards real-world learning with that app. In our case, their multimedia iBook “Art Authority Lesson Ideas” provides specialized plans for ages 5-12, 12-14 and 14-18. And the lessons are not just about art. Art Authority is used as the jumping off point for lessons about Literacy, Social Studies, and History too.
The plans include both app-based and real-world activities, such as museum visits, poem writing, and drawing. One activity is specifically based on Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and another is about the impact of the Byzantine Empire. Objectives, overviews and even rubrics are provided for each activity, along with the activity details.
Apple feels that the benefits of the plans include:
- Enriching the classroom with works of world-famous artists
- Enabling comparison of works within the app, and to real life
- Engaging students and building anticipation by exploring artists before visiting real art museums
- Inspiring work in other subjects.
This is not the first time that Apple has featured our app in a high visibility education event. It was also called out by Phil Schiller as one of seven “amazing” iPad educational apps in a Special Educational Event at the Guggenheim Museum, and has been featured in a number of Apple’s Back to School programs.
We love it that Apple loves our app. As Apple continues changing the world in incredibly meaningful ways, it’s nice to know that we’re helping out too.
Happy 20th anniversary to us
Today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Open Door Networks, the parent company of Art Authority. We are very proud of our 20 years creating great app(lication)s for Apple devices.
Open Door Networks is an Internet company, and always has been. As such we have had to grow and change with the Net, as well as with Apple (the company that gave our founder his start and us our focus). It has been an interesting evolution:
- We started as a Macintosh dial-up Internet Service Provider, then helped our home town of Ashland Oregon build and run the ahead-of-its-time Ashland Fiber Network.
- We have been a server application provider, helping the Apple community out with utilities for many early Mac-based Web and other servers.
- We have been a Macintosh-based web hosting service.
- We have been a developer of Internet security software, for Apple, Symantec and ourselves.
- We have created over 100 iPhone and iPad apps, including day-one apps for both devices.
- We are now the developer of the number one classic art app out there.
Quite the ride! What’s next?
A sign of the Times
As you may have heard, Art Authority was featured in an article on “Applied Reading” in the New York Times Book Review last Sunday. The article begins by pointing out how “electronic textbooks” are “more effective” as learning tools than traditional paper-based solutions:
“Who wants merely… to squint at a tiny printed reproduction of a still life by Pieter Claesz — an artist who was sharing pictures of food centuries before Instagram was invented — instead of popping open a full-screen version to better study the composition?”
The article serves as a perfect example of its own point. In the print (“treeware”) version of the Times, the article includes, quite literally, “a tiny printed reproduction of a still life by Pieter Claesz” (as shown in Art Authority for iPad).
There is a fundamental defect in the printed version of the paper however, which prevents you from “popping open a full-screen version to better study the composition.” You can however do this in the online version of the article (and as part of this post as well). And of course you do it even better in the app itself.
The fact that an electronic version of a Book Review article is fundamentally better than a print version of the same article is certainly a sign of the Times. As we think is Art Authority. Thank you New York Times for making your (and our) point so well!
We celebrate Apple celebrating the arts
The home pages of the various App Stores (iTunes on Mac/PC, iPad, iPhone) currently have a big rotating banner proclaiming Celebrate the Arts with a subhead of “Fine Art, Music & Literature”. If you click/tap on this banner, you are presented front and center (literally in some cases) with our Art Authority app, among others.
Our previously announced intership program is now rolling along, with dozens of interns learning the ropes in the burgeoning digital art field while at the same time helping us to enhance our digitalized art collection. They’re also helping us implement the first stages of our recently announced partnership with Bridgeman Art Library, which involves merging the two collection databases together in preparation for adding print-on-demand capabilities to Art Authority for iPad.
Relatedly, Art Authority was just featured at the Art Career Project in an article entitled “15 Art Apps You Should Be Using.” We definitely appreciate the publicity and accolades (“one of the most beautifully designed apps on iTunes”), but we even more appreciate the recognition that we’re on the right track with our education initiatives:
- The Art Career Project Web site says “We are a group of people – much like you – who are passionate about art.” Check.
- It also says “a career in art often starts with an excellent education.” Check.
- And “We’re looking to educate you on how to educate yourself in preparation for an exciting career in art!” Check!
So thanks, Art Career Project, for doing what you do and for helping us validate that what we’re doing can really be important.