Not too long ago we wrote about apps that were actually artist projects, as in, artworks that utilized the "medium" of the app. And while they were definitly interesting, they weren’t exactly… useful, which is, arguably, the sole purpose of an app. A good phone app should make your life easier. And if you’re a member of the art world, this means it should do one of four things: help you find art, help you identify art, help you learn about art, or help you connect with other art world folk. Here we list a handful of great apps—most of which are free—that do exactly these things.
Literally putting galleries on the map, See Saw was created in 2014 by then-twenty-something Ellen Swieskowski with the help of her programmer brother, Patrick. As journalists, we use See Saw on an almost-daily basis in the office as a quick reference for what’s on view around the world, and on the street as a real-time walking guide. See Saw helps you find art on view by hosting exhibition listings in five cities—New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, and Paris. (It also adds additional cities temporarily during big fairs or biennials, like Miami during Basel, for example.) Exhibitions are organized not only by city, but also by neighborhood—making gallery hopping easy to plan—and most listings include images as well as a press release. Once you’ve found a show you’d like to see, you can add it to your map, which uses GPS to show where you are in relation to the galleries and museums hosting the exhibitions on your list.
Self-described as the “Shazam for art,” Magnus allows a user to snap a photo of an artwork to find information about said artwork. In some cases, the information will even include a price. Users can save their favorite artworks and easily share them to social media. And like See Saw, Magnus lists exhibitions around the world. Leonardo DiCaprio, a big spender at auctions and regular attendee at Art Basel, has his fingers in the pot, reportedly having invested in the app in 2016.
STREET ART NYC
& STREET ART LONDON
Like See Saw, this app maps out the nearest places to see art—this case, on the street. If you’re in New York or London, open the respective app to see a map of nearby locations of street art worth seeing. Want to follow just one or two of your favorite artists? Search artists in particular to see where in the city their work can be found. We did notice some users commented on Apple’s app store that these apps were slightly out of date (some of the murals listed have been since buffed over and no longer exist), but if you're an avid street art fan, you know that this predicament comes with the territory.
Artland is essentially a social network for collectors, who can post images of works in their collections, as well as art they see while out and about. Its main feed is organized in a way similar to Instagram, where users can scroll images posted by other users and “like” and comment on the ones that strike them. This app is useful for dealers too, who can use the app to post images of available works and network with collectors. The Danish startup seems to be most popular among European (and more specifically, Danish) collectors, but it’s growing (in November of 2017 it was reported by Tech Crunch that the app had around 10,000 registered users.) Another great perk? Informative editorial content including an impressive number of interviews with collectors gives novice art enthusiasts some insight into the world of collecting.
GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE
You probably downloaded the Google Arts & Culture app when everyone and their dog started posting their art selfies online. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, the app finds your doppelgänger in a historic painting.) But finding your painted counterpart isn’t the only useful thing about this app. In fact, we wrote a whole article about how awesome it is. To sum up, it uses advanced technology, like AI, to help you discover, learn about, and experience art virtually. But beware, download it and you might end up down a rabbit hole for a few hours.