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The usage fashion between “contemporary” and “modern” crossed over somewhere in the mid-aughts, though the shifting meaning of “modern” makes a precise diagnosis difficult. (all screenshots via

A new web app created by the research and development wing of the New York Times allows users to create graphs tracing the appearance of individual terms or phrases in the paper over the course of its century-and-a-half history. The graphing tool, called Chronicle, is similar to the Ngram Viewer Google has offered for some time.

Here are some example graphs:

As expected, Picasso dominates, though Warhol appears to be closing the gap. Koons and Basquiat are neck and neck through the mid-aughts, with Koons appearing to peel away.

Compared with the above graph of male artists, the y-axis here shows the relative paucity of mentions enjoyed by these prominent female artists, and a clear hierarchy among them is difficult to establish, though O’Keeffe maintains a strong presence through the present day.

Cubism: still happening! But a lot less so, of late.

Painting and sculpture: still happening! But a lot less so, of late.

The very close correlation between these two terms is interesting, with a remarkable divergence during the interwar period.

The crisis of criticism. (Or something.)

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Mostafa Heddaya

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.