Google’s Art & Culture Experiments are always a source of joy–like its recent viral selfie feature, which matched your face to your long-lost twin in fine art. But the app also provides more useful tools, like its latest, Art Palette. It’s a web app that takes any color combination you choose and matches it with artworks drawn from Google’s long list of institutional partners, including thousands of paintings in museums all over the world.
To make the tool, Google engineers used a color analysis algorithm on thousands of artworks to extract the five hues that define them. To use it, you only have to visit the web app and upload an image or take a photo with your phone. Art Palette will then analyze your input image–using the same color analysis algorithm–and display all the paintings or sculptures that match.
In a way, it works just like reverse image search, but using the color information and a limited set of images. There’s also the option to choose your own palette by hand, using a color picker that appears on the top of the interface.
According to Google, the palette tool uncovers the secret relationships between art pieces across epochs, helping “creative experts in art, design, and beyond to make informed choices regarding color palettes, understanding the context and history behind each one.” I don’t know if it’s going to be helpful on a day-to-day basis, but it’s certainly extremely educational–not to mention the fun of jumping from artwork to artwork, discovering how everything connects.
It’s easy to imagine how Google could build the software into a more robust design tool. I’d love to see different color search modes, like the ability to find the opposite or complementary palettes, as well as different display modes, which could show all the artwork on a navigable timeline with information overlays.