Exploring Art History Data 1

Freebase have a section of visual art data: here.

You can download an archive of the data: here.

Expanding the archive gives you the data as tab-separated files:

$ ls visual_art
art_acquisition_method.tsv artwork.tsv
art_owner.tsv color.tsv
art_period_movement.tsv visual_art_form.tsv
art_series.tsv visual_art_genre.tsv
art_subject.tsv visual_artist.tsv
artwork_location_relationship.tsv visual_art_medium.tsv
artwork_owner_relationship.tsv

Loading up R, we can parse the files and check some of the features of the data:

$ R --quiet
> artwork<-read.delim("./visual_art/artwork.tsv")

> artwork<-read.delim("./visual_art/artwork.tsv") > names(artwork) [1] "name" "id" "artist" [4] "date_begun" "date_completed" "art_form" [7] "media" "period_or_movement" "art_genre" [10] "dimensions_meters" "art_subject" "edition_of" [13] "editions" "locations" "owners" [16] "belongs_to_series" > artists<-artwork$artist[artwork$artist != ""] > summary(artists)[1:20] Henri Matisse John Gutmann Pablo Picasso 72 66 66 Ferdinando Ongania Vincent van Gogh Caravaggio 57 57 49 Raphael Claude Monet Dr. William J. Pierce 48 44 42 Alexander Girard Tina Modotti Martin Kippenberger 37 37 36 Alvin Langdon Coburn Thomas Annan Robert Adams 31 31 30 Paul CĂ©zanne Edward Weston Martin Venezky 29 28 28 Paul Klee Willi Kunz 28 28 > media<-artwork$media[artwork$media != ""] > summary(media)[1:20] Gelatin silver print Oil paint Canvas,Oil paint 1110 897 429 Oil paint,Canvas offset lithograph Albumen print 429 221 185 Bronze Photogravure chromogenic print 138 127 104 Acrylic paint Synthetic polymer paint Ink 82 69 67 Graphite Screen-printing Wood 61 57 55 Daguerreotype Mixed Media Oil paint,Panel 39 39 37 Panel,Oil paint Marble 35 30 > gelatin_silver_print_artworks<-artwork[artwork$media == "Gelatin silver print" & artwork$artist != "",] > summary(gelatin_silver_print_artworks$artist)[1:20] Dr. William J. Pierce John Gutmann 78 41 34 Robert Adams Ilse Bing Edward Weston 30 27 26 Walker Evans Tina Modotti Dorothea Lange 20 19 18 Lee Friedlander Lewis Hine Garry Winogrand 16 16 14 Henry Wessel Nicholas Nixon Ansel Adams 13 13 12 Harry Callahan Pirkle Jones Arnold Genthe 11 11 10 Bill Brandt Lewis Baltz 10 10

A couple of quick checks of the data show that it has some biases relative to mainstream art history, with more photography and photographers than you might expect. And there are several different entries for oil painting, which have skewed the numbers. This is interesting data, but about the dataset rather than about art more generally at the moment. Perhaps art history data will be as useful for institutional critique as for historical research.

Posted in Art, Art Computing, Art History, Art Open Data, Free Software, Howto, Projects