We are pleased to announce the first fruits of one of the first collection building projects ARTstor undertook: an exciting collaboration with the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research (Harvard University). This ambitious project envisioned the digitization and distribution through ARTstor of approximately 30,000 high quality digital images from the Du Bois Institute’s Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive.

More than more than 7,000 images from the Image of the Black archive are now available to ARTstor users. Another roughly 1,500 will be released shortly, and further releases are planned for 2007. These images span the whole history of western civilization from prehistory to the present.

Spanning nearly 5,000 years and documenting virtually all artistic media, the Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive is an unprecedented research initiative devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art in the western tradition from antiquity to the present. Started in 1960 by Jean and Dominique de Ménil in reaction to the continuing existence of segregation in the United States, the Archive contains photographs of nearly 30,000 works of art, each one of which is extensively documented by the Archive’s staff. For the first thirty years of the project’s existence, it focused on the production of a prize-winning, four-volume series of generously illustrated books, The Image of the Black in Western Art. This collaboration between ARTstor and the Du Bois Institute is intended to make this rich body of visual material and related scholarship available electronically for the first time. The audience for these materials will include not only art historians but also scholars, teachers, and students throughout the humanities and social sciences, who will value having the ability to access, browse, and make rich educational and scholarly uses of this unique corpus of images.

To locate these images in the ARTstor Image Gallery most readily, please click on “Image Gallery” from the ARTstor “Welcome Page” and then select “Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University)” or search for the phrase “image of the black” or for the abbreviation “ibwa.”