Bottom Line: Very well-done and with a ton of depth, the app brings the supremely talented but tragic figure of Van Gogh to life in a vibrant, new way. Certainly not for younger kids though.
To be honest, for most of my life I just didn't "get" art. Sure, I could appreciate a nice sculpture or painting, but most of the time I spent in a museum was wondering what everyone else was seeing that I didn't get (and thinking about baseball.)
Eventually I started to learn that the secret to art appreciation, for me at least, was to know much more about the artist. When I found out more about their lives and their experiences, especially as it had to do with a particular work, art started to come to life for me in a way it hadn't before.
The best example I can give of this was when I learned that a set of paintings I was viewing was painted by Vincent Van Gogh while he lived in two rooms, behind locked doors and barred windows, in an asylum in France. It was not exactly the bohemian lifestyle of an artist I expected.
Explore Vincent, by developer Qlvr, provides a multimedia biography of Van Gogh, unquestionably one of the most famous and interesting artists in history. Bringing something to life is an oft-used cliche, but it genuinely applies here as they have very effectively recreated key scenes of his life and development.
Vincent's Story presents an animated HD short with narration and music, detailing his life from a first-person perspective. Vincent's Time is comprised of titled images that can be touched to reveal a short explanation. Vincent's Work starts with a map indicating where he was and then displays various pieces of his art for each time period.
Everything is done with a child, albeit an older one, in mind as the delivery is eye-catching and quick. Even the parts that have to be read are brief, which I think is excellent considering the target age and introductory nature of the app. This app is the opposite of a page full of text.
There are also six games included in the app: Family Tree, Cityscape, Find the Spot, Lettersketches, Help The Museum, and Endgame. I was very pleased to see that all of the games are, essentially, quizzes to reinforce/test what was learned in the app. The game page also has references to places to visit in Holland to learn more about Van Gogh.
My 10-year old son, who has been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, loved the app. Loved. He sat with it for an extremely long time. Van Gogh's life, presented in this manner, contains a lot of interesting material for the age group that is starting to grow out of cartoons but not really allowed to see too much more.
Be advised that no matter how young you'd like to instill art appreciation into your child, this isn't a Disneyfied version of Van Gogh's life. (I'm not even sure a Disneyfied version of Van Gogh is even possible.) None of the material is presented in a graphic or inappropriate way, but Van Gogh did have a bit of a tumultuous love life, struggle mightily with mental illness, and commit suicide. I've set the age recommendation at nine and up and even that may be a too low.
It's up to you to decide on the age-appropriateness for your child, but I recommend the app. Explore Vincent has tremendous depth and is very unique. Even if you're an adult, looking to get more out of art as I was, take a long look at this app. Van Gogh is a fascinating character to start with.
If you would like to purchase Explore Vincent please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.