Do the Art Shake!

October 17, 2013


I don’t write about smartphone apps very often, because there’s always so much else to write about, but there are some very neat museum apps out there. Yesterday I discovered a new one whilst browsing the iTunes store on my phone, and just have to share it with you. Forget the Harlem Shake, with ‘ArtShaker’ the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland – home to an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art from the 19th to the 21st century – has launched an app which gives everyone the chance to be an artist.

ArtShaker iPhone app

Screen shot from the App Store


There are plenty of photo apps out there, that enable you to apply filters and effects to your photos, but ‘ArtShaker’ bases its filters on the artistic styles of well known painters and genres from the museum’s collections. You have the choice between adapting a selection of masterpieces from the Beyeler Collection itself, e.g. turning Monet’s water lilies into a surrealist painting, or uploading your own photos and turning them in to works of art. For a surprise effect, just shake your iPhone and see which art filter comes up, or select an effect directly from the list, choosing from categories including pop art, cubism, expressionism, surrealism, impressionism, realism, op art, contemporary art, and photography and film. You then also have the option to fine tune your masterpieces by adjusting the colours and the intensity of the effects, or by combing different effects. And as with many photo apps, you have the option to share your creations on Twitter or Instagram, as well as adding it to the public ArtShaker Gallery on Facebook.

boy dressed as cowboy

My original photograph of #MuseumBaby


The app also includes background information on the featured artists and artworks from the Beyeler Collection, as well as links to information about the art styles that you can select as the filters. Information on the latter seems to be pulled from Wikipedia, but it’s good to have it all in one place nevertheless. As a bonus feature, the app includes 27 questions and answers from the book “What is art?”, published by the Fondation Beyeler in 2012.


Effect: Warhol (Pop Art)


Effect: Lichtenstein (Pop Art)


Effect: Braque (Cubism)


I had a lot of fun using this app, trying out all the different art filters on a portrait of #MuseumBaby. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that modern and contemporary art are not my forte, but choosing my favourite filters actually got me more interested in the styles themselves. I ended up searching online for masterpieces from the relevant artists, to compare with the ‘artwork’ I’d created. I learned about artists I’d never heard of or paid attention to before, and next time I end up in a modern art gallery I’ll most likely be keeping an eye out for those same styles again. I’m not saying this app has achieved where many museum visits before have failed, but it’s definitely achieved more than just passing an hour with a silly bit of fun.


Effect: Schiele (Expressionism)


Effect: Monet (Impressionism)


Effect: Gertsch (Realism)


My only criticism is, that there doesn’t seem to be any embedded information on the artists the different art filters are named after (in each style category there are several artist surnames to choose from), only on the artists featured in the selected Beyeler Collection masterpieces. It wasn’t too big a deal breaker, since I ended up doing a search on the artists anyway,  but it would have been nice to have that information all in the same place too (unless I just couldn’t find it, in which case I apologise). But the app is free, so I’m not complaining. If you have an iPhone, why not download it from the app store and have a go at being an ArtShaker yourself!


Effect: Vasarely (Op Art)


Effect: Oursler (Contemporary Art)


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