‘Friends of art’ seeks to crowdsource the history of art

Gustav Klimt's "Farmhouse with Birch Trees"
“Farmhouse with Birch Trees” by Gustav Klimt (1903)

‘Friends of art’ (FOA) self identifies as, “a young community of art enthusiasts who are re-writing art history”. Currently in the beta stage, FOA invites users to contribute and curate content about artists, movements, and individual pieces. Users can register with the site to create a profile, build personal collections, and designate favorite artists, pieces, and movements.

In addition to using the site to develop and expand your own knowledge, as a FOA user, your activity is reflected in the records. When a piece has been added to a user’s collection, that collection is cited in the record as a way of capturing and communicating to other users the way someone else responded to or learned from the work. In this way, FOA creates a kind of social network that revolves around the art presented and discussed on the site.

Each record invites comments, revisions, tagging, and sharing as means of involving the user, but they also include images of the piece and the artist as well as basic information about the piece. The site pairs a spare aesthetic with a proliferation of images in order to create a highly browsable environment. The records also offer a ‘palette’ for each work, where the piece’s color palette is characterized, distilled and presented as a collection of 10 different shades. The site also includes search functions and a timeline of artistic movements. The breadth, depth, and variety of the resources and functionality of FOA strike a balance that makes it easy for users to search, browse, and interact with art history in a new way.

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