Wanna carry around a picture of a nude lady without accusations of perversion? Or are you more sophisticated than us, and crave knowledge about your favourite masterpieces while on the move? Either way, the National Gallery's new mobile application 'Love Art' is worth downloading.
At first, it sounds like the gallery are offering us the moon on a stick. 'The application contains more than 250 works,' claims the blurb and, sure enough, there they all are. However, only 12 of the pieces allow zooming, and these are exactly the paintings you'd expect: Sunflowers, check; Ambassadors, check; Rokeby Venus... The remaining images are not indexed, and can only be located through serendipitous browsing.
But to leave the grumbles aside (this is, after all, a free application from a gallery that doesn't charge entry), there is plenty of good stuff on here. Each of the 12 zoomable paintings comes with a collection of short documentary films that reveal the history, technique and hidden meanings of the canvases. These are pitched just right for the interested novice, giving a beginner's background but also pointing out little details that even someone familiar with the painting may have missed. A second tab on the app jumbles up all these videos into emotional themes such as trust, vanity, triumph and faith, should you want to call up a picture to match your mood. In all, the package contains over three hours of audio and video.
While the application remains free, we'd highly recommend a download. It'll be interesting to see if the gallery has further content lined up for the app, as image quantity is its biggest shortfall at the moment. In the meantime, get yourself to a wifi hotspot and visit the gallery's superb web site, which allows zoomable browsing of a much greater range. We can also recommend the monthly podcast, which comes in both audio and image-enhanced versions.
Love Art application from the National Gallery, available for iPhone and iPod Touch from the iTunes Store. Free for a limited time.