The Wikipedia Networks of Old and Modern Masters
Approximately 2000 artists from 11th Century to 1950, and 80,000 Wikipedia links
Vasari Project (November 2021)
How does the Italian Renaissance painter Masaccio relate to the twentieth century American photographer Kathy Grove? And how does the nineteenth century French painter Rosa Bonheur find herself related to the cyberfeminist organization subRosa? In fields as Art history, Wikipedia reveals broad spheres of thematic connexions and networks going far beyond traditional monographic approaches. Each artist can find himself connected to many personalities and topics, by the means of hyperlinks. The Vasari project aims to explore these vast thematic spheres and organize them in accessible didactic graphs. The progressive circles contain several categories of relations such as male and female personalities, (painters and non-painters), as well as lists of art museums, artistic themes, technics and others. A simple glance is enough to discover, for instance, all the museum collections, containing the art works of a particular painter, different Wikimedia lists in which his or her name are involved, or some unexpected cross-historical social links. The Vasari graphs try to reveal the underlying network of multiple cultural references and interdependences, proliferating around old masters in Wikipedia, but difficult to see directly. The simple visual organization of voluminous quantitative information is a short path to new insights in the field. Inspired among others by the theories of Edward Tufte, this project invites to explore the Wikipedia dimension of Art history and its benefits to didactics and research.
How to use the Vasari graphs (
A detailed presentation
The diagram consists of two circular modules. The left module is a chronological window showing a random selection of artists contemporary to the painter of interest. In the right module, the articles pointing to the selected painter are organized in different categories. The user can then see all the categories simultaneously or select a particular section for a better readability. Each name redirects to the corresponding Wikipedia page, where the user can find how and for what reason the main painter of the graph (the one in the middle of the circle) is mentioned. The names of humans are displayed chronologically, in a clockwise direction (the more ancient personality is situated at noon when the section is unfolded).
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