How ArtGuru could organise your next date….


….with your favourite artist.


It is spring and it is time to discover. If you suffer from hay fever and cry at flowers not because of their everlasting beauty, if your skin is so pale that the producers of Twilight nearly called you up, than what better time is there than to hide in the safe realms of British art galleries? This blog comes indeed a little late, but we thought we don’t want to steel Apple’s SpringForward show on Monday.

And we might not have a $10.000 gadget to show off (hell, not even a stage and snazzy shirts), but what we do have, is free: our app. If you don’t have it yet, than now is the best time to get it, preparing yourself for the British summer rain. It comes in a single colour and can turn your handheld iOS product into a personal art assistant. Instantly.

I have started this entry telling you to discover. And so you should. If you already have the app than you might have noticed a little update this weekend: the Discover function. It looks a little like this:


We decided that it was time to include a function into our app that so far has only been common practice in your well-known music apps: recommending what to look at next based on what you have already seen. We here at ArtGuru have learned it the hard way: Looking at a painting, liking it and then starting a complicated Google search, finding out where to go next. Doing that only for London, we thought, is already a huge task, but for the whole of the UK this was sheer impossible. And in an age where everything seems to get easier with the help of apps, finding art was not one of them.

I have talked about the existing apps in an earlier blog post and the trouble of having them all in order to be always up to date. And this is when we decided to cooperate a news feature in our app, personalised, and tailored around you.

How often do we look at recommendations that are kept so general that we might as well look at somebody else’s phone? But since our mobile devices turned into something so close to us (hopefully not too close…), so why shouldn’t the messages we receive be personal as well?

The function itself is absolutely easy. You don’t have to do anything, well, not more than you already did. Collect the art you like, store and share it and we do the rest.

So how might this look in practice? Well, for example, quite early on I started to collect van Gogh and Monet. I am a huge fan of impressionism and post-impressionism. In the past, I have relied on my mediocre art education from high-school to identify new artists or artists in the legacy of impressionism. Sure thing, I have missed quite a lot of them. Now, by liking just one of them, let’s say Sunflowers by van Gogh, I get recommendations on other paintings that are similar or by van Gogh himself. I can go through them, like or dislike them, and the Discover function becomes even more personalised.

It is like a dating app, but for (mainly) deceased artists and their work. And without the awkward meeting thing, when you suddenly realise that they look nothing like they did on that photo. We make sure that what you see, will be the same painting in the end.

But eventually we want to take that even further. A date wouldn’t be a date if you didn’t know where to meet up. And instead of shabby bars in the back corners of the town, you’ll meet them in breath-taking buildings like the Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Scotland, or Tate St. Ives.

I, for example, would get a notification letting me know that the Impressive Impressionist exhibition is currently on at the National Gallery. With one click, I could get to know more about it, how to book tickets and share it with friends to see who might pop along (this might be awkward for a real date though…).

So there is a lot to look forward to. And if we experience the same heat as last year, where better can you hide from that hideous sunburn then in the art galleries of the UK?

Why the arts need the tech industry

woman in gallery4


ArtGuru has launched. Couldn’t get more exciting? Well, it certainly can. ArtGuru is now available for every iOS device owner in the UK. One click here and you can start collecting: There are some inspirations on what to look for in older blog posts. So have a scroll through. Use ArtGuru wherever smartphones are allowed. Don’t forget though to leave your selfie-stick in the umbrella stand.

After all the travels around the capital, I thought it was time to step back a bit. Recently I have followed several discussions about the future of the internet, the digital world as we know it. The impulse for this blog entry gave me an article on TechCrunch by Kim Gordon (@KimberlyDGordon). You can find it here:

I am sharing her opinion that the arts, when it came to digital, where always a bit behind. And that the apps, that were already out there were just an addition rather than a new input. That does not mean however that the arts have never tried.  Ever wandered around a museum and seen a rather sporadic distribution of QR-Codes? These somewhat clumsy stickers, wanting you to hover with your smartphone in front of the caption to somehow improve your experience? Or only recently the uprising of museum specific apps. Just last week the The Metropolitan Museum of Art published their first app and if you want to head over to see Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican, you can download their specific app. Now, I love what they are doing, as I am part of this generation who has their smartphone with them all the time and want to use it as much as possible. But there limits. Internal storage limits to be precise. On the one hand I want to take something away from the museum or gallery I have visited. And by something I don’t mean the ten paged flyer that will end up on the bottom of my bag. But I also don’t want to have five screens full of apps I have only used once and possibly won’t use in the near future. Ideally I want something I can share with people that aren’t with me at the moment, something I can carry with me wherever I am.

Platform is becoming the buzzword of this time. If you live in Plymouth or have followed the arttech news in recent days, you might have come along Artory. Instead of concentrating on one particular museum, they are incorporating the whole town. You can collect artmiles, which you can exchange for other products, for example a free coffee in the café gallery. You’ll be more likely to visit again, and if it is just for that free coffee. In the end, we are all voucher-queens deep inside. Addtitionally museums make some revenue and maybe even attract a crowd that would have not gone there in the first place.  The app also recommends exhibitions and reviews them. One app, all you need. For Plymouth, that is.

But if you don’t live in Plymouth, than you can wave now from the far and swipe through your screens of one-time-used apps. Maybe we shall start the next part a bit more exciting.

Augmented reality! Woo. Or, in easy words: seeing something that isn’t there. (If that happens to you without any technological device though, we can’t help here). I don’t know how often you have been in that situation but have you ever experienced that piercing question in your head while walking through the galleries of London: How would that painting/print look on my wall? Is there an app for that? Yes, there is. Curioos App is the digital insurance that that oversized print actually fits on your wall. And let’s be honest, where else do we need such an app more than in the poky apartments of London? Curioos still relies on QR-codes you have to print out and stick wherever you want the painting. Then scan the code with your smartphone and you can check how it would look like.

We are getting there.

If you are not already distracted by these apps, let’s go on. Another reason why I think the arts need the tech industry: We breathe digital. We do everything online. From dating, to shopping, even our next generation might be a product of dating apps. So why not the arts? An industry that attracts nearly 50 Million visitors each year, half of them from overseas. That is a big audience and probably just as important to address. And there is something else. I have mentioned a generation produced by dating apps. Remember this noise? Then you are probably part of the generation that shares “If you are from 90s you will know this” Buzzfeed lists on your Twitter or Facebook timeline. Admit it. But, many don’t know this sound anymore.Quite frankly, they won’t know what it is like anymore to wait at home in front of the telephone until someone calls you to come out. And they would not know what’s going on in the world without platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media outlets. And they are the future museum audience. So how do you want to reach them if you don’t know how to use tech?

We are expecting a technological advanced surrounding, so why don’t we demand it? We have televisions, that react to our voice (or record it 1984 style), our fingers are becoming remote controls. Left and right swipe has never been so powerful. And art shouldn’t be left out. We are already seeing an improvement in the digital art movement itself. Olaf Eliasson recently said in an article on TechCrunch: “I think the next big thing will be an innovation that represents the limitless aspects of digital technologies, something that brings about a seamless, sensorial and spatial interface that still invites participation.”  I know he speaks about artforms themselves, but why not expect the same from the institutions which are connecting us with the arts, the galleries and museums out there?

Art is not boring. A Rembrandt can be as exciting as the new IPhone. (maybe less queing on the opening day) If we want it to be. But the artworld has to react. We might not like every direction digital is taking, but we could turn it into our advantage.

We go online offline

It has been an exciting and interesting past week. But also cold. Mostly cold. We are grateful that art pop-ups are a thing of the summer and that the exhibitions we have visited are inside. In the warmth. Mostly.

So what did happen this week? First of all: The guys from Create-Hub, and mainly Samuel Fry, gave us the opportunity to publish our journey on their online platform. That gave us not only the chance to re-cap on our journey so far but to also explain in detail how ArtGuru actually works. Everything that does not fit into the 140 characters on Twitter. You can find the article here: .

Make sure that you have a flick through their other articles as it gives you a pretty good insight in what is happening currently in terms of digital technology in the art world. We will be reflecting on this during the next couple of weeks, showing you what is going on in our art and technology bubble.

If you have read our article you might have had a read-through through our challenges that we had to overcome in order to be where we are now. And I can assure you: we are nearly there. There are some more changes to come in the following weeks. If you are one of our beta-testers you might have noticed the latest update: the offline version. There is no longer the need to hold up your device in front of the painting, risking a numb arm in the process (or successful work-out, we are still in the new-year’s resolution mood). Just point ArtGuru on the picture you like, wait until the red ArtMinions are all over the painting, tap on the screen and the app will take a picture for you. If you are online, the image will be send to our servers, analysed and in a matter of seconds you will have the results, without waiting in front of the picture. We still do encourage you however to take a closer look of the painting anyway. It gives you the chance to discover things you didn’t see before.

If you, for example, are at any point at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, have a look at this painting, called Netherlandish Proverbs from Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559 – Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559 – Pieter Bruegel the Elder


Quiet an innocent scene you might think. Well, if you have a minute, start counting the *ahem* backsides you will see in this painting and let us know your answer.* Every painting is worth a closer look.

But back to topic.

If you are in a museum that doesn’t have WiFi and you don’t have any data plan with your phone, ArtGuru now also works offline. Just take a snap of the painting you want to have in your personal gallery and ArtGuru will detect when you are online again. It will send the images to our servers and you will get notified with a little icon on the top of the page that the artist and the title has been recognised. Easy as chips, as they might say here.

If you have an iPod like me, running iOS7 or higher and you were worried until now that you might not be able to use it in galleries, I can assure you the newest update changed it totally. I can now tour museums like the Courtauld Gallery, which doesn’t have Wifi, take pictures of the paintings I like and want to share, and later, in one of the famous green coffee houses with Wifi, I can have a flick through my newest collection.

The whole process is shown below, using van Gogh as an example, as the art world does so often. And even better. Once you took a snapshot it does not mean you will have to live forever with that slightly blurred “this other person pushed me” picture. You can take it again, even after ArtGuru already recognised the painting, and it will automatically replace it if you push the like button. No more share embarrassment. (Though we can’t guarantee that for any other pictures you take).

van gogh



We will keep you updated on when and where the final version of ArtGuru will be available for everyone. Until then, if you want to have a play around, here is the usual drill: email and go exploring.



* We don’t have an answer. We are still counting ourselves. But we were assured by experts that there are more than 100.



One day with the VIP’s of London

A very exciting week lies behind us. We were out taking selfies with the Windsor’s at the National Portrait Gallery, we were continuing our cat trail and were amazed by the Surrealists at the Tate Modern.

With all these impressions we thought we will start poetic into the new week. Can you guess with which famous person we started our hunt for famous Londoners?

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

No, we did not turn our focus on bigger felines. Are the bells ringing? Yes, we have been visiting William Blake, known not just for one of his most famous poem “The Tyger”. And where else would we find him than at the National Portrait Gallery, London?

William Blake by Thomas Phillips oil on canvas, 1807 On display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery NPG 212

William Blake by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1807
On display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery

He is sharing Room Number 18 with another rather famous literary person. (Who he looks rather scared at) Can you guess by the quote below?

“The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own.”

Not quiet? Maybe something more obvious?

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Of course we are talking about Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by Richard Rothwell oil on canvas, exhibited 1840

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
by Richard Rothwell
oil on canvas, exhibited 1840

And because the best things come in threes: Who am I to forget THE most famous writer of the UK? I’ll make it easy this time to avoid any reminiscing of past school days.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Yes, Shakespeare is part of our personal ArtGuru collection. Maybe he is asking that questions about himself too.By the way, the snazzy golden earring he is wearing is a status symbol (different to what we might think today). It was also used to blog the entry holes of the body from the evil spirits.


associated with John Taylor oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1600-1610

associated with John Taylor
oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1600-1610

After all this literature we felt like something more down to earth. So we went for someone who took us the fear of being in a plane during a thunderstorm. (I can only speak for myself here). Michael Faraday. Born in the now London Borough of Southwark, Faraday went on to become one of the most regarded scientists in his field.

Michael Faraday by Thomas Phillips oil on canvas, 1841-1842

Michael Faraday
by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1841-1842

Faraday’s portrait is hanging right next to another scientist. The Scottish chemist Thomas Graham, who died in London in 1869. He was the founder of the Chemical Society in London and the one who discovered dialysis.

Thomas Graham by Wilhelm Trautschold oil on canvas, 1850-1875

Thomas Graham by Wilhelm Trautschold
oil on canvas, 1850-1875



Our last stop before heading out into the London fog are the leaders of the country. On the 24th of January it was his 50th anniversary of his death. To follow the route of this blog I have seem to have taken, here is a quote:

“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

It is not this guy from last weekend who thought he was very funny. It is: Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill by Walter Richard Sickert oil on canvas, 1927

Winston Churchill by Walter Richard Sickert
oil on canvas, 1927

And to round it all up our selection of the weird and wonderful of the London population, who could I not miss out after my selfie last week?

You are right: The Royal Family. We selected two paintings by the artists Bryan Organ and one all time classic by Oswald Birley.

Prince Charles by Bryan Organ acrylic on canvas, 1980

Prince Charles by Bryan Organ
acrylic on canvas, 1980

Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ acrylic on canvas, 1981

Diana, Princess of Wales by Bryan Organ
acrylic on canvas, 1981

King George V by Sir Oswald Birley oil on canvas, circa 1933

King George V by Sir Oswald Birley
oil on canvas, circa 1933


But there are certainly more out there. We could not add anymore. After all this collecting our gallery looks like that:



And there will be many more. Maybe you can guess who we will be featuring next week.

Let us know who you found and share it with us either via our Twitter account (@artguruapp) or follow us on Facebook.

If you have any recommendations of what you would like to see next, write us.



Impressing Impressionist Artist – Claude Monet

Came here through Twitter? Followed our latest tweets? Yes? Than you might know where we have been this week. For anyone else: We did not wander far. We barely made it three rooms from our last blog entry but it could not be much more different than Peter Paul Rubens. This week we are with the Impressionists, and to be more precise, with Monet. Since September the National Gallery is exhibiting new work from Monet, from his famous “Water Lilly Pond” to “Flood Waters”

We went for one of his more famous works: The Water-Lily Pond, to test the new beta-version of ArtGuru. And the result was astounding. Monet, different to Rubens, is known for his plein-air painting style, capturing nature in its true colours. And even though his pictures are drawn with a wider brush style, ArtGuru was able to recognise the painting immediately. We quickly added The Water-Lily Pond to our personal gallery, ready to share it with you.


If you want to test out ArtGuru for yourself on a Monet and are in London next March, then be sure to visit the National Gallery, as they will be holding a major Monet exhibition in 2015.


And if you want to see more works from the Impressionists movement, ArtGuru is soon able to remind you that the National Gallery is planning a major exhibition about the Impressionist movement in May 2015. There is a lot to look forward to this year.

If you are in London this year, make sure you visit the National Gallery. And if you have an IPhone, IPod or IPad with iOS7 or higher than send us an email to and you could be our next beta-tester, exploring the art world of London your way.


I hope you had a good start into the New Year. The team of ArtGuru wishes you all the best for 2015.