CAA 2015: Art-Historical Scholarship and Publishing in the Digital World

CAA 2015: Art-Historical Scholarship and Publishing in the Digital World
Petra Chu, Seton Hall University (; Emily Pugh, The Getty Research Institute (

Friday 02/13/2015, 9:30am–12:00pm
West Ballroom, 3rd Floor, Hilton Hotel, NYC

In recent years computing technologies have opened up new avenues of inquiry and new publishing formats for art-historical research. Yet these new opportunities are not without challenges and raise a number of questions. Do computer-based tools represent merely a more expedient way to answer existing art-historical research questions, or can they inspire art historians to ask (and answer) entirely new questions? What are the options available for publishing new kinds of scholarly data (datasets, three-dimensional images)? What about copyright? And funding? Are there models for best practices for collaborative projects or for working with technical specialists? What are the implications of such approaches for peer review and tenure? Scholars who have used computing technology in their research and publishing are invited to join this panel to discuss their approaches and practices, to analyze what has worked or has not, and in the process to answer some of the questions raised above.

The Codex Defamiliarized: Thinking of Publications as Designed Experiences
Kimon Keramidas, Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture

Digital publication provides us with an opportunity to defamiliarize embedded academic publishing traditions, allowing us to see, as if for the first time, how thoroughly the design history of the codex and other paper media has influenced those traditions. From the twenty “page” research paper to the paper journal article to the hardbound monograph, scholarship across the academy has been influenced by centuries-old printing processes. Starting with a brief history of the design of the codex and its impact on academic publishing and scholarship, the paper will explicate what features of digital publication can help us deconstruct those designed modes and create new and innovative works. In particular, the paper will discuss how for art history and material culture, digital publishing allows visual material (both two-dimensional and three-dimensional) to be more carefully incorporated, providing an opportunity for much more developed visual argumentation.

“Picasso: The Making of Cubism, 1912-1914”: MoMA first digital-only publication
Anne Umland, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

In August 2014, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) launched “Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914,” its first digital-only publication and the first monographic e-book to be authorized by the Estate of Pablo Picasso. This project was catalyzed by two related desires: To share the insights gained by curators, scholars, and conservators during the run of an exhibition and to explore the potential of new digital publishing formats for the presentation of interdisciplinary, object-focused, art historical research. In my paper, I consider some of the key issues confronted and lessons learned during the four years it took to research, write, gather images, design, edit and produce what amounts to an over 300 page publication with some 400 unique images and extensive endnotes, available as an iPad app and as an enhanced PDF.


New Questions in Digital Humanities: Virtual Tools and the Historical Exhibition
Elizabeth Buhe, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Creating a three-dimensional, interactive model of a historical museum space raises a variety of questions about efficacy and the value of digital tools in art history. It also surfaces many practical issues about collaborating on such projects in a field without much precedent for their production. This paper addresses the technical and scholarly challenges encountered in a project to build a three-dimensional, fully-navigable model of the Musée Charles X, France’s first museum of Egyptian art. Beyond issues related to historical accuracy, this paper discusses the learning curve associated with communicating across disciplines and, moreover, agreeing upon shared priorities. This relatively unprecedented cross-disciplinary partnership makes apparent the difficulty of finding a legal precedent for copyright ownership. Lastly, this paper speaks to the issue of estimating required resources in terms of time, finances, and institutional support, which far exceeded initial expectations.


The Catalogue Raisonné in the Digital Era
David Grosz, Artifex Press

It is a well-known truism that catalogues raisonnés are out of date the moment they are published. Five years ago we founded Artifex Press to solve this problem. Artifex Press was created with the explicit mission to publish catalogues that could be updated and corrected, and our solution was a hybrid technology/publishing company that would develop software and employ a staff of art historians. Over the past five years, we have discovered that the impact of publishing digitally goes well beyond our initial goals. In fact, we believe that the true advantage of the digital CR is that it revolutionizes both how a catalogue raisonné is produced and what this publication is in the first place. Drawing on existing Artifex catalogue projects—including Chuck Close, Sol LeWitt, and Agnes Martin—my paper will illustrate how the essential nature of the catalogue raisonné is being transformed by the revolution in digital publishing.


The Art of Digital Art History: The Case of Installation Archive
Kate Mondloch, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Oregon

My presentation describes the scholarly impetus and working process behind my current digital art history project, Installation Archive. Installation Archive is an online archive of user-generated documentation of installation art works in the form of digital photos and video posted to social media sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr and Vimeo. I offer a thorough overview of the project’s conception and work plan, and address the challenges and rewards associated with this type of undertaking. My presentation is organized around a series of questions: 1. Why pursue this project and what is its scope? 2. How to acquire, process, and present the data in question? 3. What are the implications of this and related projects for individual scholars and for the discipline of art history more broadly in terms of production, documentation, and distribution of art historical scholarship?

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