One of the best CD-ROMs ever made about art, Passion for Art gives you a look inside the private collection of Dr. Albert Barnes, the irascible art collector whose museum in Philadelphia is among the world's biggest private museums. Dr. Barnes founded The Barnes Foundation in 1922 to promote the education of modern art, only to hear sharp criticisms from the public and art critics who lambasted the works of (then) avant-garde masters such as Matisse and Picasso as "degenerate". Hurt and angry, Dr. Barnes closed the doors of his private collection to the public. Passion for Art offers a rare glimpse into his collection, which have been available for public view once again after his death (incidentally, The Barnes Foundation itself is in dire financial straits-visit the official Save the Barnes campaign site to learn how you can help). |
Dr. Barnes' collection highlights hundreds of artworks from around the world, but focus on four of his most favorite artists: Renoir, C้zanne, Matisse, and Picasso. The CD-ROM is very easy to use. You can virtually walk through the gallery and look at the paintings one by one, examine documents and audio archives, or go on one of four guided tours. True to Corbis' reputation as the caretaker of the Internet's biggest image archive, you can even examine each artwork more closely by using the zoom and superzoom tools, to see, for instance, the painstaking pointillist technique Seurat employed in Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Most important works are linked to critics' comments, including many essays and articles by Dr. Barnes himself.
The guided tours are flawlessly presented in a documentary manner, with narration from notable critics on prominent themes throughout the collection. There's even a tour about Dr. Barnes that describes his rise from poverty to his amassment of one of the world's priceless art collections. The amount of information is immense: you will find cinematic stories, a graphical timeline, a visual index, plus private papers and records from the Barnes Foundation about prominent acquisitions. The ability to create your own slide show of your favorite works is a particularly useful feature that allows you to create your own collection for future browsing. With excellent images, user-friendly interface, and an all-around impeccable production value, Passion for Art is a fantastic accomplishment that ranks among the best art-related CD-ROMs ever made. Two thumbs up!
Note: Afer many years out of print, the CD-ROM is available again directly from the Barnes Foundation - with a lot of technical enhancements to make it work much better in Windows XP. Go buy it today before it goes out of print again ;)
Reviewed by: Underdogs