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Try This NYT Web App To Track Art Coverage Trends

Who is mentioned more often in pages of The New York Times from its start in the 1850s through 2011?

  • Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci?
  • Van Gogh, Degas or Gauguin?
  • Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois or Mary Cassatt?
  • Impressionism or Modernism?
  • Monet or Manet?

You can see for yourself how the Times chronicled art trends — or any other trends — with a new web app called Chronicle. It allows you and me to tap into “Visualizing language usage in New York Times news coverage throughout its history” to discern trends.






Big hat-tip to Hyperallergic, which did a few tests (not those above, which are mine) several days back, testing things like “contemporary” versus “modernism” and groups of contemporary artists. See them here.

The answers to the questions I posed were not so predictable:

  • Michelangelo
  • Van Gogh, then Degas
  • Louise Bourgeois, then Mary Cassatt
  • Modernism
  • Manet

I’d have thought that Monet would have beaten Manet, but this one test has a flaw. I used Claude Monet as the search term because there was once a big jewelry brand named Monet. But I am not sure that the Times consistently used Manet’s first name in English or French… a quandary.

You can also click on a year to see articles from that year.

This doesn’t prove anything, of course. But it’s an indicator of what the general public, in the East, at least (and in years past maybe more broadly, given the New York Times syndicate distribution, which I’m guessing has decreased in total circulation distribution, but maybe not).


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