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When I heard that New York’s Museum of Modern Art created their first art-making app, I imagined something amazing. And I was not disappointed. MoMA Art Lab invites the user to step into the shoes of great artists like Henri Matisse and to imitate their techniques to create original works of art. The activities offered by MoMA Art Lab are fun and the app is easy to use for even the youngest user. But the app is also profound in that users—including you—really do pick up the tools and adopt the techniques of great artists; and that’s exciting and stimulating in a way few apps are.

Modern and contemporary art offer a great entryway into fine art for kids. Your preschooler can’t draw like DaVinci, but they can create a cut paper collage that bears a striking resemblance to a Matisse. Or they can create a collage similar to the work of Hans Arp. This app offers kids a new way of seeing lines and shapes. And it isn’t just for kids. These programs can stimulate the imagination of any user of any age. 

The development team describes this as, “An open-ended exploration of how simple shapes, lines, and colors can be transformed into works of art, and encourages experimentation and digital play for the whole family.” I love the way this app combines art-making activities with short lessons in art history. For example, one of the six basic activities you can explore is to create a sound composition in the style of artist Elizabeth Murray. This includes a paragraph about her work and her creative process that invites further exploration.

Or perhaps you’d like to try drawing with scissors in the style of Matisse. The app allows users to work with Matisse’s library of shapes but also makes it easy to create your own shapes, as well as manipulate size, shape, rotation, and color. 

The activity that allows you to create a line design in the style of artist Jim Lambie is downright addictive. The color combinations are virtually endless and the app is so simple to operate and so satisfying, it’s hard not to find yourself deeply inspired.

This is a great family app. You will enjoy this as much as your preschooler, who’ll enjoy it as much as your teen. There’s something for everyone here. This app places the user on the same level as Matisse. That’s an awe-inspiring place to spend an afternoon. Like a day at MoMA, it’s food for the soul. 

Review Summary
App Name: MoMA Art Lab
Category: Education
Age Level: 4+
Released: June 7, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Price: $4.99 
Bottom Line: Fuels creativity; my new favorite app.

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