Distant Viewing in Art History



With reference to the concept of distant reading in literary history, distant viewing is a valuable analogy for a quantitative approach to art history. In this case study of artistic productivity eight samples are analyzed, extracted from a digital thematic research collection about the iconography of Aphrodite/Venus from the Middle Ages to Modern Times. The result is an empirical finding of regularity never before highlighted in art history. The artistic productivity fits perfectly the distribution known as Lotka’s law of scientific productivity in bibliographic science. Issues of collecting and sampling are discussed and the meaning of this empirical finding is hinted. Suggestions for future research are made.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/dah.2015.1.21639


K. Bender

is an independent researcher in Belgium with an academic background in the 'hard' sciences and developing his digital thematic research collection since 2004.