Imprimatura

App review by
Liz Panarelli, Common Sense Media
Imprimatura App Poster Image
Challenging test of paintings and artists has mature images.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Navigating from the main menu to a puzzle is simple, and play is explained well in the "how to play" section. There are easy, moderate, and difficult puzzle options, based on how difficult it should be to identify the artist of the painting. Also, players can choose whether the memory puzzle will use 9 or 18 colors. However, even solving an easy puzzle with 9 colors is very challenging for those new to art, and there is no tutorial to introduce the paintings or artists. Points are given and lost, but scores are not recorded or maintained; each puzzle starts with a fresh score of 100 points. There is an option to play music, but there is only one song, and it must be restarted within each puzzle.

Violence

A few paintings portray violent situations, such as Hell (symbolized by a sea monster eating vague shapes of people) and the slaughter of an animal to eat. More often, the captions describe a context of the painting that is not depicted, such as massacres, cannibalism, and flaying.

Sex

Many pieces show half or fully nude women, sometimes partially covered by their hands, such as in Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." A few paintings show men wearing only a strategically draped cloth. The captions include discussions of marriage and childbearing. One woman is identified as a harem concubine, another as Renoir's mistress. A few paintings depict orgies, but not in detail.

Language

The terms "savage," "exotic," and "primitive" are used to describe some non-white people.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few paintings show subjects drinking or smoking. One painting describes the setting as a place where "drunks" go.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the goal of Imprimatura is to correctly identify the artists of paintings, some of which have mature or religious themes. In each puzzle, players must select tiles, two at a time, until they find a match. Each match reveals a section of the painting underneath the tiles and gives the player a chance to select the correct artist of the painting from five choices. After an incorrect answer, players can choose to give up or continue matching tiles for more chances to guess. The correct answer reveals the full painting with a caption describing the painting, artist, and historical context. In the main menu, the puzzles are organized by school and by whether identifying the painting is easy, moderate, or difficult. Some paintings show full or partial nudity, and some captions discuss drinking and violence. The art often represents figures or themes from Christianity or other religions. Also, the paintings selected are representative of common historical biases: The artists are predominantly European men, and non-white subjects in the paintings are considered "exotic."

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Is it any good?

IMPRIMATURA could be an absorbing game for young art historians, but may be frustrating for anyone else. The game is best for those who want to get lost in a puzzle, since the challenge of solving the memory game is tricky enough with 9 or 18 colors, after which you still need to correctly identify the artist! It's also best one puzzle at a time since after finishing a puzzle, the list of puzzles resets to the beginning, your score is reset, and the music stops. It would be nice to have a tutorial option to learn the paintings and artists before being tested on them. But, for players who don't mind learning the hard way, this is good exposure to famous art. 

App details

For kids who love art and creativity

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