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Examining the growth of art biennales from 1895 to 2019: Quantitative Analysis

Text, data analysis and data visualization: Lev Manovich
Research and dataset: Alise Tifentalle

The data for this report was collected in Fall 2018.


Global culture is entering a new period, and we don’t know yet what it will be. But regardless of what may happen, having quantitative knowledge of long term cultural trends will help us better understand the future when it arrives.

This report presents one such analysis. We look at the growth and diffusion of international art biennales. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative analysis of art biennales history. Below we discuss our findings including the effects of 2008 global financial crisis on biennale growth.

(This work is a part of a larger Elsewhere project where we investigate the growth of global contemporary culture after 1990 using data science and AI methods.)

For this project we created a dataset of all biennales that had editions in 2017 or 2018. Many new arts biennales that started in the last decades had only a few editions and did not continue. We decided to include only biennales that keep going, so the latest edition in 2017 or 2018 was our criteria for inclusion. Our dataset contains 200 biennales including their geographic details, and years of the first editions.

Article  2021