Rhea Myers

Art Open Data 1

Art Open Data

Open Data is data that you have the freedom to use. Data that you are not free to use is called proprietary data. http://www.opendefinition.org/

Art Open Data is Open Data that concerns art institutions, art history, the art market, and artworks.

It is useful because it allows us to examine and think about those subjects in new ways.

This doesn’t displace the social history of art, art theory, or actually looking at art. Rather it allows us to find new ways of contextualising art and of gathering evidence for theories.

Art Institutions

Historical and contemporary art institutions have collection catalogues, show details, attendance information, accounts, and organizational information.

Contemporary art institutions may make their data available through an API that they provide or that they use from a service.

Art History

Writing by artists, critics, theorists and historians are all primary texts for art history. Out of copyright texts are being digitised and uploaded to the internet. These can be processed to provide institutional and market data, to discover factual information, or for affective and aesthetic analysis.

Biographical information about artworld figures is part of art history. Books such as “Lives of the Artists” and websites such as Wikipedia can be sources of biographical data.

The Art Market

Records of art auction prices have been kept for hundreds of years.

Older, historical records are available freely but recent information is usually proprietary.


Reproductions of artworks that are out of copyright can be scanned, or artworks that are out of copyright and are in institutions without restrictions on photography can be photographed.

Institutional, historical and market data about the artwork can build up a picture of an artwork’s production, reception, and provenance.

Next we’ll look at how to find and use Art Open Data.