Home App Brings Centuries of Great Art to the iPad

App Brings Centuries of Great Art to the iPad

The iPad makes a perfect coffee table book and photo browser but a new application called Art Authority sends the touchscreen interface back through centuries of humanity’s finest imagery.

Built by 1980’s Apple engineer Alan Oppenheimer, Art Authority (iTunes link, $9.99) is a beautiful way to get some art education and ponder the human condition while flipping through more than 40,000 historic works of art on your iPad. Oppenheimer calls the app a public domain and web art browser. It makes good use of Wikipedia, has a great breadth of Western art and is the kind of app that just makes sense for this platform.

The app isn’t perfect, Oppenheimer reminds us almost no one has developed iPad apps on a real iPad yet, but it’s pretty good and will presumably get better. If you need a guaranteed 100% crash-free experience for viewing Van Gogh and Botticelli in your lap, you may want to wait a while on this app. It’s not a big deal, though. The resolution of the art ranges from fabulous and sharp to a little disappointing, but is generally satisfactory.

Some additional settings would be nice; like the ability to change the duration of caption overlays and to save favorite artists and images in the app for later enjoyment. Artists from outside the Western world and a better sculpture section would be great, too.

The iPad’s interface is just big enough and just sharp enough, and these images are just clear enough, that it can be frustrating to be so close and yet so far away from the art. It certainly isn’t the same as standing in front of the great paintings of the world – but let’s not fool ourselves: browsing the world’s museums in your lap is an experience unlike any other and is not to be missed. Personal computing has come a long way in a hurry if our expectations can be higher still for a whirl-wind tour of centuries of human expression. You’ll definitely get more than $10 worth of art appreciation and personal growth out of this app as it is already.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.