The Warhol: Art – An App for Droid, iPhone, and iPad

I don’t want to shock anyone, but since my last post, another art museum has released another app. The Warhol: Art is a production of the Andy Warhol Museum and Toura, and perhaps the sarcasm was unwarranted. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that a museum dedicated to such an influential part of pop culture stays on top of the latest pop culture mediums. Andy is a Carnegie Mellon University alum, so I plopped down my three bucks on the Droid Market for this application (available on the Droid, iPhone, or iPad) and proceeded to check it out. This is the Andy Warhol Museum’s third app, and The Warhol: Art is focused on informing the users about the life and art of Andy Warhol, as well as helpful information about the museum itself. The app is useful for those who would like obscure information about Andy’s life (such as his Carpatho-Rusyn heritage) at a moments notice, and great for art history buffs. The Warhol: Art is described as a “behind-the-scenes glimpse” at some of the Warhol’s works of art, especially pieces which are lesser known. Users can explore the life and times of Andy Warhol through sections divided by years in his life. Each section comes with a selection of related art works that he created during the time period. There's a neat "Favorites" function that allows users to star the pieces they like best from these sections. The starred items list can be accessed easily from the first screen of the app, allowing users to check out their favorite pieces quickly. A few select pieces have curator commentary buttons, which I really enjoyed. The Warhol: Art commentary buttons, however, do not actually appear on the pieces that they describe. For example, while viewing Mao, 1972, I clicked on “Curator’s Insight”, only to hear a curator discussing Warhol’s Hammer and Sickle series.

Yes, I see and understand how those pieces are related. Yes, I enjoyed the commentary on the piece because I am a huge art nerd. Practically speaking, however, were I a museum patron standing in front of Mao, 1972, hoping to hear more about it, I would be disappointed and perhaps upset to receive commentary on a completely different piece.

I believe mobile applications are quickly becoming a new way to encourage museum patrons to interact with the art, and I applaud the Warhol for encouraging this effort. The Warhol: Art is an informative app chock full of information and great art, including many lesser known and not on display pieces. However, I found some features tedious (see above), while others just did not work (none of the videos would play for me, and I could not zoom in on any of the works – this is could be due to user error).

Overall, this app is great for those who’d like to learn more about Andy Warhol in an informal setting. The Andy Warhol Museum certainly is not alone is releasing an app for art history fanatics, which begs the question: is the next wave of art history coming through our smart phones? Is this the future of education? What do you think?