Art Expert HD ($3.99) by Gabriel Dana is one of the newest apps to let you explore the treasures of the art world on your iPad, or on your iPhone and iPod touch (sold separately).
Art Expert HD brings you over 1,200 works of art from the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods.
The images are sharp on the iPad’s large screen, even when you zoom in. And, there are lot of artists (Art Expert HD mysteriously refers to them as “authors”) that you don’t see in other more mainstream collections. It compensates for the absence of many of the great masters.
It also covers more than paintings. There is architecture, pottery, and I am thrilled to find Bernini’s passionate carvings on my iPad at last.
Art Expert HD boasts a number of great features. This is the rare art-viewing app that works not only in both orientations, but is actually better in portrait mode. The pictures are big.
You can launch a slideshow and zoom in, as in most good art apps, but Art Expert has some unexpected goodies. It offers a decent quiz that’s ideal for students, and has great sharing features for Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and email.
But, what makes it a keeper for me despite the flaws I will soon discuss, is the unique compare feature. You can select any two works to be displayed with full information, on the same page. For study or pleasure it makes this app worth every penny.
There is also a comprehensive translation feature, but here is where the GUI starts to show cracks deeper than any in the paintings. As far as I can tell you can translate absolutely nothing into a multitude of languages.
The more serious problem is the utter lack of navigation tools. With 1,200 works, most by lesser-known artists, there is no more than an awkward scrolling menu listing works by “author” in alphabetical order to help guide you.
That much scrolling is not fun, and I never got past the letter “e” because the box kept closing. I was left with no option but to view most of the art in random order.
I hope the developers add several classification systems so you can search by artist, title, year, genre, and even medium.
Also, since this app is marketed as a study aid, the developers might want to borrow a page from Van Gogh HD and Art Authority, and link some paintings to Wikipedia, or at minimum discuss the periods. Unless you know the difference between Baroque and Neoclassical, you’re on your own here.
All that said, the art lover in me is very happy, as I already have the great masters on my iPad. Art Expert HD brings me fresh content to expand the breadth of my knowledge and enjoyment.
And, these are not insignificant artists, quite the contrary. Many are just not household names. That is a good thing. Aesthetically I’m tickled; it’s my inner student that’s left wanting.
However, this is a first version, and a fair price to have access to so vast a collection. If you are an art aficionado, it’s worth owning. But, keep your fingers crossed that we’ll soon have an update that makes it easier to browse.