Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015
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Famous Paintings

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Browsable but brief art database of 100+ well-known paintings

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: Kids can zoom to explore paintings in detail; quizzes and flashcards help kids memorize key details.

Cons: No way to save favorites or study strategically; includes only European classics.

Bottom Line: Quick overview introduces some of European art's most famous paintings.

There's not enough depth for this to suit an art history class, but teachers looking to introduce a few well-known paintings could use it to share the paintings and artists with students. English teachers could pair paintings with literature for discussion or use paintings as a writing prompt. History teachers could use a painting to pair with a discussion of an event or time period. The reproduction quality is suited for projecting so the whole class can see. Art teachers may find the videos helpful for introducing technique or discussing a specific period, even zooming in to show examples of technique using the pinch-to-zoom feature.

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Famous Paintings is a flashcard and quiz app for studying a selection of famous paintings from western European art history. Browse famous paintings, learning the name of the painting, the author, the year it was completed, and its current display location. In the Gallery, scroll through randomly ordered paintings and click the painter's name to view the Wikipedia entry on that artist, or pinch to zoom in on details of the piece.  In Lookup, browse an alphabetical listing of artists or search by artist, title, keyword. The Parade displays several pieces in a slide show accompanied by the William Tell Overture, and the Game is a five-question, multiple-choice quiz matching artist to painting. The Video section includes about a dozen short videos produced by the developer called "Art is for Everyone," discussing topics like "What is Romanticism?" and "What is negative space?" The free app includes an occasional pop-up ad and a link to download other apps from the developer.

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The quality of the images is surprisingly high, and it's great that users can zoom and explore the images with so much depth and flexibility. The app functions like picture memory flashcards, showing the painting with the title and artist. The quiz reinforces that the goal is matching the artist to the work, but students can choose how they review the works: They can choose scrolling through the gallery, viewing the slideshow parade of works, or searching by specific artist. The videos are very brief, clocking in at a minute or so each, so they also serve as an overview to the topics. Keep in mind that the famous paintings are limited to European artists, with most works from the Renaissance through Impressionism, so kids can only explore a brief period and chapter of art history.

Overall, this app is good for what it is: a brief database of about 100 famous western European paintings. Teachers will need to introduce deeper discussions and topics for kids to understand, interpret, and appreciate the art featured, but this is a solid place to start.  

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Simple, easy-to-navigate design features make it easy to explore well-reproduced, zoomable paintings. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Focus is on picture memory -- matching an artist to a painting -- featuring mostly European artists. No data is kept for game scores, so it's tough for kids to track their progress.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Wikipedia links extend learning with more information about artists and their work, but there's not much in-app support or guidance.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Chris C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Concordia International School Shanghai
Pudong, 31
Famous Paintings frames European Art History in broad, simple strokes

Overview
Famous Paintings is an app for Androids (Google Play), but the Apple equivalent is for-cost, and not the same (iTunes App Store). I will review the Android app which allows users to examine 100 of Europe’s most famous ... well, you guessed it … paintings, on Android-capable handheld devices.

Concerns
As a fun exercise in preparation for a trip to the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, or the Uffizi, this app is a fine choice. Given the subject matter, the materials presented are beautiful, and the mobility of the handheld device allows for viewing at one’s convenience. That being said, academic applications are limited.

Sample Uses
The two practical academic uses that I see for this app is for Art History class review and as a fun review/break for AP European History exams preparation.

Do I plan to use it?
I plan to offer the app as a possible choice to my students who have an Android device, and who wish to brush up on their knowledge of European art, but that is about it.

Commitment and Learning Curve
Low. Download, play, easy.

Best for ES MS or HS?
MS & HS for review purposes.

Cost: Free! For the iTunes equivalent, though not the same product, $0.99 (iTunes)

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