Art Authority was my surprise find at the 2012 MacWorld | iWorld event. It is a way to view thousands of works of art from all periods of human history without travelling the globe visiting dozens of museums.
How does it work?
The program sorts art into several periods, from Early (up to 1400s) to Contemporary (1950s – current). From there, you have more options related to either time frame or style, and the last level of choice is the individual artist.
The program will show you selected images as a slide show presentation. You can set the view duration in the Settings area or you can tap the image to pause the show. The universal stretch and move functions work with Art Authority so you can get a very detailed close up that would, if you were face to face with the real work of art, send most curators into low earth orbit.
The universal orientation works here as well, so the “portrait” and “landscape” function takes on a very literal meaning.
An additional cool feature is the ability to set any of the images as your background image.
The iPad version also has a feature to find other works “like this”. When you find a piece that really appeals to you the program will show other works in the collection that are similar—a bit like Genius for art.
Is it contagious?
Even if you are not into the fine arts, this is a neat app. The only down side for the iPod Touch version is that there is no sub menu to scroll through an individual artist’s works before viewing the piece; you have to scroll through the artists collection one at a time.
If you do like art, Art Authority is enough to dry your eyes out from staring at the screen all day. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the fine arts, and it’s a possible interactive upgrade to the traditional Art 100 class in college (I heard plenty of stories that involved snoring…). Art Authority is easy to use and it’s educational so it scores well on the practicality scale with bonus points for offering some of the best visuals in history.