Network Analysis + Digital Art History


Network Analysis + Digital Art History

Author: Alison Langmead

Researchers in the Visual Media Workshop, a digital humanities lab located in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, have been working on a Getty-funded advanced workshop on network analysis and digital art history. This research fits within the Visual Knowledge Constellation, because of its connections with visual and material culture, but it also holds ties with Mobility and Exchange as many of the projects that are participating in this workshop deal with art exchange and the ways that network analysis and network visualizations can reframe trade and the sharing of ideas.

This workshop is officially entitled the Getty Advanced Workshop on Network Analysis + Digital Art History [NA+DAH]. It was designed by Alison Langmead (University of Pittsburgh), Anne Helmreich (Getty Research Institute, now Foundation), and Scott B. Weingart (Carnegie Mellon University) to bring scholars of art history and network science together in a structured, supportive, and persistent environment in order to encourage and advance research at the intersection of these two fields of inquiry. This event is unfolding over the longer-term, having begun in 2018 and enduring the delays and changed plans following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The foundational convening, the “Digital Art History + Network Science Institute,” was a five-day event held between July 29-August 2, 2019 that hosted over 25 US-based and international scholars on seven project teams. During the Institute, participating teams had the opportunity to structure a longer-term research agenda that uses network analysis to advance such art historical areas of inquiry as museum provenance, exhibition histories, and the history of the art market. We hosted five keynotes, supported eight workshops, and held two receptions. We were very happy to welcome HAA graduate students Sarah Reiff Conell and Meredith North as Project Associates. After this initial event, between September 2019 and March 2020, we held bi-monthly virtual project meetings with the teams as well as bi-monthly virtual webinars on topics useful to the teams. This work was spearheaded and facilitated within the VMW by the assiduous efforts of S.E. Hackney (SCI), the project’s GSR.

The work of Spring Term 2020, was, of course abruptly transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Yet, we were able to hold a successful virtual convening over Zoom during our originally scheduled time in June-July 2020. This work included project presentations from each of the teams, focused time for discussion on how the pandemic was changing our research plans, and also a closing keynote. In our closing survey, we were so heartened to note that a number of participants contributed thoughts such as, “Thank you for making our virtual convening so successful. It was so much better than most Zoom-based events I have attended in these past months and I was sorry when it ended!”   

We are thrilled that the Getty has approved our revised plan to extend this advanced workshop for an extra year, allowing us to run another year-long series of webinars and facilitate another year of project team meetings between September 2020 and April 2021. We are then crossing our fingers that we will be able to conclude this workshop in Summer 2021 with a four-day, face-to-face symposium held in Pittsburgh, although only time will tell!

For more information on this project and to read further about the participating projects, please visit the NA+DAH website.

  • Mobility/Exchange
  • Visual Knowledge