ARIES: ARt Image Exploration Space

Screenshot of the web-based tool for digital image manipulation and organization.


In 2014, members of the Frick Art Reference Library’s Digital Art History Lab (DAHL) contacted experts in the Visualization Imaging and Data Analytics (VIDA) Research Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering to see if they would be interested in collaborating on a new tool for art historians. The Frick team realized that there was no software available at the time that allowed users to manipulate images in a way that was truly intuitive and useful. Traditionally, to prepare exhibitions or curate collections, art historians used physical light boxes on which they placed slides or printed images. In the physical world, they were able to move the images around at will, group them as desired, and compare them visually. The transition from printed photographs and slides to digital images has rendered this workflow obsolete, yet until now there was no adequate replacement in the digital world.

The result of the Frick’s collaboration with NYU is ARIES: ARt Image Exploration Space, a web-based software platform that gives art historians new ways to work with digital images. Now in beta, ARIES is an interactive image manipulation system that allows for the exploration and organization of fine art images (of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, etc.) taken from multiple sources (e.g., websites, digital photographs, scans) in a virtual space. ARIES provides a novel, intuitive interface to explore, annotate, rearrange, and group art images freely in a single workspace environment, using organizational ontologies (collections, etc.) drawn from existing best practices in art history. The system includes multiple ways to compare images, from dynamic overlays analogous to a physical light box to advanced image analysis and feature-matching functions available only through computational image processing. Additionally, users may import and export data to and from ARIES.

Screenshot of a comparison between three images as uploaded into the web-based tool, the Art Image Exploration Space, or ARIES.

The Frick Art Reference Library’s DAHL is particularly pleased to be able to present ARIES to art historians worldwide at this time. We believe it will serve a vital function for scholars working in the digital age. ARIES provides an indispensable tool to everyone from curators designing exhibitions to researchers organizing their investigations into works of art to students gaining exposure to virtual art-historical platforms. We are excited to explore along with our community the rich possibilities for its application.

Sign up for an ARIES account»

Please join us for a live demonstration on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. Event details and sign up»
For questions, please contact: Additional tutorial videos are available on the ARIES site.

The ARIES workspace, which allows for the manipulation and comparison of fine art images.

Comparison of images through ARIES, which enables both full views and detail views in a digital format.

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