Artbit provides a wealth of data about art and also allows users to create profiles and share their interests with other users. Artbit provides a wealth of data about art and also allows users to create profiles and share their interests with other users. Artbit provides a wealth of data about art and also allows users to create profiles and share their interests with other users. (Photo: Artbit)

New app can ID any art you see

Artbit blazes new trail for connecting people with the artists behind their favorite works.

Have you ever come across a work of art you wanted to learn more about at that very moment, only to find that the desired information wasn't readily available? If you have a smartphone, that problem is set to go the way of the dodo bird.

Artbit is a smartphone app that allows users to access a database with an easy tap of a button. Created by Israeli brothers Yoram and Aric Ben-Zvi in 2014, the company is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with additional offices in Geneva and New York. It's been called the Shazam of the art world, after the app that can accomplish a similar task with songs. But it's so much more than that.

Just snap a photo of the work of art – be it in a gallery, museum or on the street – and the app will supply a variety of details based on what information the user requests, from the name of the artist and the year it was made to academic articles, analysis and a list of related artists. It can also provide information about local art events and will even allow users to set up a profile and connect with other art lovers around the world.

Just snap a photo of a work of art and Artbit will open up a world of information to you.Just snap a photo of a work of art and Artbit will open up a world of information to you. (Photo: Artbit)

"We want to bring art into people's lives. We want to make art accessible to anyone, anywhere," Artbit's Stav Avrahami told From The Grapevine.

With that mission in mind, Artbit has begun the herculean task of creating the world's largest art database. The company set about filling it with masterworks by the likes of Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, but that's just a small percentage of the world's works of art – which is why they recently introduced a new crowdsourcing feature.

"If you go to the Louvre and you snap the Mona Lisa, of course the app will recognize it. But there's so much artwork in the world, we can't map it all, so we invite users to contribute. If they're walking through a gallery or on the street, they can snap a photo of it and upload it. Next time somebody snaps that artwork, it will be recognized."

Every day Artbit continues to build out its database and sharpen its functionality. It shouldn't be too tall a task considering who's behind the app. The CEO is Ofer Atir, a tech industry veteran who also boasts a fine art degree. The company's creative and product director is Zachi Diner, one of the minds behind the incredibly successful navigation app Waze, which was founded in Israel and later acquired by Google.

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So how do artists like the app? Avrahami said once they get the concept, the enthusiasm has been overwhelming. "Before you had to find the right curators or galleries or museums to get your art noticed, but now you can connect immediately with art lovers," explained Avrahami.

Of course, Artbit's selling point is one any artist can get behind, that of connecting them with the rest of the world and vice versa. Said Avrahami: "There's no reason people around the world shouldn't be able to have access to art, to enjoy art, at least on some level."

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