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Culture & Religion

Pandora for Fine Art, which launched on Monday, hopes to give users an easy entree into the world of fine art with the help of hefty financial backing, art historians, and many art institutions.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Monday saw the launch of, a Web site that claims to “do for visual art what Pandora did for music and Netflix for film: become a source of discovery, pleasure and education.” At its simplest, users entering a search term such as “Picasso” or “Cubism” will discover related images and other terms to search on. As with its music and film predecessors, is adding artists and works to its collection as part of its “Art Genome Project.” Founder Carter Cleveland is not shy about his goal: “All the world’s art is going to be free to anyone with an Internet connection.” Backing him up are a number of different investors ranging from financiers to notables in the art world, as well as more than 300 galleries, museums, and institutions.

What’s the Big Deal?

The technology behind is similar to Pandora’s in that it relies heavily on human, not computer, interpretation. Art historians assign labels to works and assign a numerical value to decide where each fits in the continuum. Subjectivity is unavoidable, as one art-school dean notes: “It depends so much on the information, who’s doing the selection, what the criteria are, and what the cultural assumptions behind those criteria are.”

Adriano Castelli /


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