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Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

Picasso: the man, his works, the legend Picasso: the man, his works, the legend

from Grolier

click on the thumbnails to view the screen captures.

Pablo Picasso was the most prolific artist in history. Any attempt to encapsulate his work in single instrument is a daunting task. Nevertheless, "Picasso: the man, his works, the legend" does an excellent job of providing extensive information on Picasso's career without burying the viewer under a mountain of data.
The CD-ROM uses two categories for looking at Picasso's work: "Notebook" and "Themes". "Notebook" provides a chronological arrangement of the material in the form of a horizontally scrolling virtual gallery. click to view fullsized screen capture Picasso's career is divided into seventeen historical sections, each identified by a typical work of that period. Within each of these sections are subsections that provide biographical and social background, as well as detailed discussion of a variety of works created in that period. There is a wealth of material that branches off from these subsections, allowing the viewer much freedom to digress from the primary narrative. But the effective navigational interface allows simple and direct return to the main road. The "Themes" path divides the works into categories such as "Portraits", "Sculpture", etc. and is an engaging alternative to the chronological approach.
click to view fullsized screen capture       One hundred images are given the full treatment, with scrollable zoom and an even closer static view, an informative scale comparison click to view fullsized screen capturewith a photograph of Picasso as the size reference, and detailed textual analysis. A number of key works also provide effective animated descriptions of composition, comparison to other works, and a "metamorphosis" which graphically depicts Picasso's development from one style to the next. Within the Notebook and Themes sections are four hundred additional images to illustrate the narrative.
click to view fullsized screen capture
Technically, the program is excellent. The colors are vibrant and the images sharp-focused. The program does not install to your hard drive, thus saving disk space, yet the animations run smoothly. There is no perceptible delay in loading data (reviewed on an 8X CD-ROM drive). The sound is well done, providing musical ambiance without intruding on the presentation. click to view fullsized screen captureThe interface uses a particularly attractive "Picasso handwriting" font for navigation.
"Picasso: the man, his works, the legend" is a shining example of how to present the career of a great artist. Most art CD-ROMs are chaotic, a forest of information and images that is like wandering through a maze; others are too linear, with an overly defined navigational path. This program allows you to experience the presentation in a structured manner, but allows room for digression. And after you've wandered off, the effective navigational interface takes you right back where you were to continue your fascinating journey through the art of Pablo Picasso.
This art CD-ROM is highly recommended.

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