ExplorArt Klee is an interactive art appbook from Lapisly that is designed to introduce children to Paul Klee and his work. Paul Klee was a prolific 20th Century Swiss- German artist who combined influences from many different artistic movements, including Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He greatly admired children’s artwork and tried to achieve a child-like simplicity in his own work.
The app takes children to PK planet, a special place that came to life thanks to Paul Klee’s art. Their guides are Cicero (Cice) and his cat Ku, Cice tells how he was inspired by Klee’s famous portrait of Senecio. Cice and Ku explain that their planet is enormous because it is inspired by Klee’s work. Klee created almost 10,000 works of art, and as people create new art inspired by him the planet grows bigger. This shows children how an artist’s legacy can continue after their death, and how your own creative accomplishments can inspire others to create too.
Cice and Ku introduce four themes that inspired Klee:-nature, music, cities and puppets. The reader gets to explore interactive, animated versions of six of Klee’s famous works of art: “Crucifers and Spiral Flowers”, “Landscape with Yellow Birds”, “Castle and Sun”, “Dream Town”, “Fugue in Red” and “Twittering Machine”, they can also play with the recycled art puppets Klee created for his son. The app is designed to allow the child to explore it their own way, they can spend as little or as much time as they like interacting with each piece of art. When they are ready to move on they stroke Ku, and he brings them to the next artwork.
Each piece of art has different ways to interact with it. In “Crucifers and Spiral Flowers” touching the flowers makes blossoms open or close, sets stems swaying in time to the music, and sends the bird swooping around the page.
In “Landscape with Yellow Birds” touching the birds brings them to life- pulling up worms, laying eggs, chirping and flying. As you move around the Landscape you can see the picture from different perspectives, giving a simplistic 3D type effect.
The “Castle and Sun” falls apart when you touch it, creating a puzzle. You have to put the pieces back in the right places by matching the various shapes to recreate the picture.
“Dream Town” is made up of layers of superimposed shapes that you can deconstruct stretching them out like a paper accordion.
“Fugue in Red” starts as an almost bare screen with just a few scattered shapes, touching the shapes not only plays musical notes but also works to create the art work as each shape is replicated into multiple similar shapes that form the layers of the artwork.
“Twittering Machine” is my personal favorite – turning the handle of the machine moves the automaton back and forth opening and closing the birds beaks, and playing music at the same time. If you stop turning the handle the movement stops and if you remove your finger from the screen the music stops instantly, so it really feels like you are controlling the machine.
The puppets are inspired by the puppets Paul Klee made for his son from recycled materials. Cice and Ku introduce the 5 puppets in a theatre, and touching each puppet brings them to life with animation, special effects and a poem about each one.
One thing I really like about the app is that it is designed to appeal to a variety of ages, they can enjoy it on different levels whilst being introduced to a great artist and his work. Early elementary school age children can listen to the pages being narrated, and slightly older ones can read it by themselves. A red balloon appears at the bottom of each page, touching it brings up a navigation bar where they can change languages, switch narration and music on or off, return to the home screen or to a favorite page or artwork. It also has a glasses symbol- tapping this will bring up more information relating to the current page. This might be a Paul Klee quote, information about the artwork, a historical photograph or more information about the artist. This is a great way to make the app appeal to a wider age range, younger children can enjoy the app as is and older ones can use this feature to learn more about the artist and his art, keeping them engaged and learning.
Paul Klee played the violin throughout his life and his mother was a professional musician, so music was very important to him. This importance is reflected in the app, with original music throughout and music integrated into the interactive artwork. ExplorArt Klee is an app that has lots of hidden surprises, and like all the best kids apps it inspires kids to keep coming back and exploring. It took me several runs through find everything hidden within it- from fun interactive elements hidden within the scenes to all the extra information available about the artist and his art.
ExplorArt Klee can be enjoyed in 5 languages: English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. It has optional narration and background music which can be switched off independently. It is child-friendly with no adverts, in-app purchases or external links. The developer recommends the app for ages 6-8, I would recommend it for ages 5-10.
Whether you (and your child) are a fan of Paul Klee, or totally new to his work, ExplorArt Klee is a great app for getting children excited about art. It gets them exploring and interacting with great works of art and can inspire them to create their own. Paul Klee wanted to “make the invisible visible” and felt that art shows us that the world we see is “not the only one possible”, so I’m sure he would have hoped his artwork would inspire future generations to use their imagination to create their own works of art. ExplorArt Klee is very well done with beautiful illustrations, beautiful original music and fun, original, ways to interact with the artwork. I love all the extra information hidden within the app. In terms of improvements, it would be nice to see the addition of word highlighting as it is read to help emerging readers and I’d love to see a resource section at the end with suggestions on creating a few Klee inspired art projects.
Overall, a very high quality app that introduces children to the art of Paul Klee in a fun and educational way. Highly recommended !
A free lite version of the app has just been released and is a great way to sample the app before purchasing the full version.
by Lapisly S.C.P.
Jump into the mind of Paul Klee!