Tracing Picasso - a Coding Dürer project
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Tracing Picasso

(only tested in Google Chrome)


This project was originally developed as part of the Coding Dürer hackathon in Munich in 2017. The hackathon brought together art historians and information scientists to work on various problems in digital art history. The central problem tackled in this project is geographical and temporal mapping of artwork provenance.

The resulting data visualisation shows the locations of artworks over time. Showing where artworks were located at different times and mapping their movements allows to look for and analyse provenance patterns. Some of the questions that the visualisation aims to answer are:

  • when were an artist's works acquired by the various institutions?
  • are there peaks or patterns that can be identified?
  • which works sparked interest at which times?
  • through which routes did the works spread from their place of creation until their current collection?


Several of Picasso's artworks are used as a dataset. It proved difficult to locate and extract full provenance data on artworks as this information is currently not publicly available. Textual data from the Museum of Modern Art and Tate was therefore used instead to reconstruct the locations of artworks at particular times. The starting location of each artwork was determined by cross-referencing the known creation date with the records of where Picasso lived at various times throughout his life.

Technical details

The following tools and libraries are used:

Object and location data is stored in JSON files. The script for showing and grouping particular objects and transactions was written specifically for this project.

Future development ideas

  • improve overall codebase, include a way to hold references to individual objects
  • increase the amount of information displayed in the popup
  • add a filter function (for example filter by different institutions)
  • include more precise locations (addresses of museums instead of cities)
  • include colour coding (for example for different types of transactions)
  • improve animations
  • improve map styling
  • check browser compatibility