Databases for visual arts

After the forthcoming success of collecting data for live music from online platforms, and seeing the efforts of so many organisations to collect information about performing arts, we were wondering how much information is available (in a structured way) about (contemporary) visual arts — so excluding old masterpieces. At Flanders Arts Institute, we collect data about exhibitions and residencies of visual artists that are active in Flanders and Brussels: But are other organisations doing the same thing, in a way that is just as structured as ours, and open/freely available?

If you think about what can be collected about visual arts, I’d say that I see opportunities for collecting data about exhibitions, residencies, art fairs, collectors/collections, and auctions. Of course, one could also make lists of museums, galeries or other presentation places, but these could be derived from the exhibitions.


In the following overview, we exclude the efforts of Flanders Arts Institute, which can be seen on, and we focus on other initiatives.


Exhibitions can take the form of solo shows, duo shows or group shows, or exhibits during bienniels. For these events, quite a few website exists, but only few offer structured data in a well documented data model.

ART.WORLD – An overview of exhibitions

My Art Guides – Unstructured data about solo and group shows of a selection of artists

Artsy – Find the latest shows, biography, and artwork of artists

Artlog – A website that gives an overview of exhibitions

artnet – View a list of gallery exhibitions, auctions, and art fairs featuring works

basis wien – A traditional archive

ArtFacts.Net – A commercial platform to find out which artists are hot right now.


It is perhaps not really an exhibition, but being part of a collection smells a bit like having an exhibition.

Larry’s List – Larry’s List is the leading art collector editorial with a commercial database about art collectors

Central European Art Database – A database focusing on central european art

Tentoonstelling | UiT in Vlaanderen – Alle activiteiten en uitstappen van het type Tentoonstelling. Ontdek wat te doen vandaag, morgen, dit weekend of


Residencies are prolonged stays, often but not necessarily abroad, of artists to develop their artistic skill. I find no databases that show which artists took up a residency in which institute, although AIR is doing a good job keeping an archive:

ARTIST – AIR_J: Online Database of Artist-in-Residence Programs in Japan

Residenten | AIR Antwerpen – Tom Castinel werd uitgenodigd voor een residentie van vier maanden in AIR Antwerpen en Artistes-en-Residence Clermont

Then there are two databases that give an overview of organisations that offer residency spots.

Transartists – A database of residency spots

ResArtis – A database of residency spots

Art fairs

Art fairs are occasions where works of artists can be sold. Typically, a representation gallery takes up the effort to promote a work on an art fair.

Artsy – Find the latest shows, biography, and artworks for sale by Luc Tuymans.


Artist work is also sold outside of the art fair context. Very often this is done “hand to hand” from artist to collector, or via the promotional gallery. But there is a third way, i.e. the auctions.

Luc Tuymans – 53 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy – Luc TUYMANS: worldwide auctions of art categories: Painting, Print-Multiple, Sculpture-Volume, Photography

Crossing data

Some organisations have already started linking databases together. This is nice, because it connects all the data. But at the same time, this also shows that there are some overlapping initiatives that are doing double work. And which initiative holds the “best” data? This is similar to the issue we encountered in the live music project, where we see that artists update their tour calendar in different platforms, with everytime slightly different data. – connects different art archives and their digital databases. – Explore Luc Tuymans – Het RKD beheert, behoudt, onderzoekt en ontsluit kunsthistorische kennis en informatie voor musea, wetenschap en…


The conclusion is that the visual arts scene is not yet as far as the (pop and rock) music community. There are only few visible online platforms on which artists can promote their exhibitions or other activities. Because of that, there is not really a widely adopted place for the artist to submit exhibition data in a structured way. And consequently, the effort of structuring and listing exhibitions comes down to other people. A role could be seen for the representing gallery, but the short term added value is not clear. Of course, the long term value is a better understanding in the (exhibition) careers of artists, and a proper documentation of who presents which work in which context. However, since even the visual arts scene is a part of an economic market, this long term added value is not immediately financially attractive.

Moreover, the data in the existing databases or platforms is rarely available for download via an API, so that I can not collect it for further analysis.

Update: I have been informed about a service that is tailoring a management product towards galeries and artists, while also including information about exhibitions:Art Manager | Art | Amy Art ManagerAmy Art Manager is an easy and professional art management tool for artists, galleries and