A new Art Geek App!

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Early in my college art education, an art history professor assigned us a museum trip. We were charged with visiting one of three specific paintings, and to spend 15 minutes with the work while writing down everything we could about it: composition, color, subject matter, and anything else that popped into our heads. She said that the 15 minute part was imperative, and to time ourselves.

Thus, I dutifully sat for 15 minutes in front of a painting at the Getty. It took less than a minute to note all the big stuff, but by the end of the session I had actually noticed the subtle shading of the sky, the patterning of leaves, the delicate blush on cheek – all things I never notice on a quick pass. It was such a richer experience. For so many of us, a trip to see art is a high speed smorgasbord, where we see the broad strokes and big ideas, but we miss the details because we’re speeding to the next one. So I have a new rule (since that assignment) when I’m in a museum… I might take a fast pass around a room, but I will choose one work and spend TIME with it.

So with that in mind, you’ll understand why I want to share a new iPad app with you… it’s called Art Scrambles, and it’s an app that brings you beautiful works of fine art as puzzles.

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Above is Jan Van Eyck‘s Arnolfini Portrait as a puzzle. You get to choose the shape and size of the pieces you want to play with (I use bigger shapes when I want to relax, and the smallest when I want to be challenged). The app is infused with subtle orchestral sounds, a sweetly clean interface, and best of all, ART. There are well known works that you would expect to find, like the Mona Lisa, but there are also a lot of works that you might not have seen, and discovering them through the use of the puzzle format is such a delight.

For instance, on Arnolfini and his wife (above), it took playing the puzzle for me to notice the fruit on the window sill (below). And I have actually seen this painting in person! (psst… it’s 24” x 36” – so much smaller than you’d expect!)

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I have studied Pieter Breugel the Elder in passing as all art history students do, but to work one of his paintings as a puzzle is to really understand just how much he was interested in hierarchy.

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There are also artists represented in the app that I wasn’t aware of. One is Utagawa Hiroshige, and all of his works seem to be perfectly tuned for puzzle solving. I think I would have missed the subtle transitions of color if I hadn’t been searching for the right place to play the pieces! Look at the way the background fades from red to cream to green in Plums, below.

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Anyway – if you have an iPad, go grab this app – it’s free and blissfully free of ads. It has add-on packs of more puzzles too – some a sampler of works from an era like the Renaissance, others just one artist. There are three packs just for Vermeer! Heaven!

 

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