Love Art: National Gallery, London review
Somehow Apple has let slip some voluptuous sensual naked flesh through their strict App Store approval process. No wait, this is art, and not just any old art, but the best of the best from the National Gallery, London far-reaching collection. 250 of the gallery's most-loved paintings are reproduced on Love Art: National Gallery, London, for iPhone and iPod touch.
The application combines visual delights with video and audio. Part education, part inspiration, it's range offers something for everyone from art virgins to seasoned art lovers. Insight is provided from an assortment of art professionals, artists and enthusiasts including National Gallery Director Nicholas Penny, dramatist Robin Brooks, artist Maggie Hambling and author Tracy Chevalier. You get to hear some background information on famous paintings and painters but also impassioned opinion on why these particular works are so worthy of our attention.
An 'Insight' Rolodex feature has various images, audio and video grouped under selections such as beauty, honesty, passion, vanity, desire, betrayal, faith and devotion. These are all a little vague but are worth exploring despite some content being duplicated. Additionally, the idea of related images explored through 12 thematic galleries is a worthy one, which would ideally be suited to future National Gallery iPhone applications centred on one particular theme such as portraits, landscapes and individual painters.
Naked women get past Apples application approval process.
Visiting the Trafalgar Square gallery for the first time can be frankly overwhelming, with so much to see across several locations, it pays to invest in repeated visits as admission is free. Love Art neatly cherry-picks some of the many highlights, although this mini-tour only really scratches the surface of a vast collection. Unless you're favourite paintings correspond with the bulk of the general public tastes, you're likely to miss out on some lesser-known masterpieces and near masterpieces.
One clear limitation of the iPhone is the 3.5-inch diagonal widescreen screen offering 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi, which clearly limits the viewing experience despite the ability to pinch to zoom on a dozen images. Image limitations aside, we would like to see regular updates that highlight temporary gallery shows, talks and events. Like the National Gallery, Love Art is free, at least for now
Another attractive, enlightening iPhone application is only let down by the obviously diminutive reproductions. That said, Love Art is a wonderful way to preview a world-class selection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries while avoiding the crowds. We only hope Love Art inspires and informs iPhone users enough to pay a visit to the Trafalgar Square gallery.