The Shape of Art History in the Eyes of the Machine

The first and second modes of variations of a learned representation with paintings color-coded by date of creation. The representation shows a smooth chronology discovered by the machine. The first mode (the horizontal axis) correlates the most with Heinrich Wölfflin’s concept of planer (to the right) vs. recession (to the left). The vertical axis correlates the most with the linear (towards the bottom) vs. painterly (towards the top).
The first three modes of variations of the VGGNet activations. Distinctive artists representing each style are identified by the representation and pulled away from the cloud at the center.
Cézanne’s bridge: we can see branching at Post-Impressionism where Cézanne’s work clearly separates from the other Post-Impressionist and Expressionist works towards the top. This branch continues to evolve till it connects to early Cubist works by Picasso and Braque, as well as abstracts works by Kandinsky. All thumbnails without labels in this plot are by Cézanne.
The connection between Renaissance and modern styles is marked by the outliers in the temporal progress patterns by certain works by El-Greco, Dürer, Raphael, Mantegna, and Michelangelo.

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