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July 23, 2009

Artstor celebrates the life and work of James Conlon

Artstor celebrates the life and work of James Conlon, Director of the Visual Media Center at Columbia University, who passed away suddenly on July 17, 2009 at the young age of 37. He was a wonderful friend, colleague, and champion for the use of new technologies to enable the documentation and study of cultural heritage sites and monuments.

In 2008, Conlon contributed his personal collection of digital photographs of art, architecture, and sites throughout Mali and Yemen to the Artstor Digital Library to enable students and scholars around the world to teach and study with his images. He was about to embark on an Artstor-sponsored campaign this summer to photograph the Dogon region in Mali, West Africa. Together with Susan Vogel, Professor of African Art and Architecture at Columbia University, and other experts, they were to create approximately 200 QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas of important sites and architecture on the sandstone Cliffs of Bandiagara, which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989. In addition, the team was to capture the cultural landscape of the region through approximately 1,200 still digital photographs of the core towns and significant areas on the Bandiagara escarpment, ranging from ritual dances and other ceremonies to the practices connected with the design and use of individual works of art. Unfortunately, this campaign is now on hold until further arrangements may be made.

Conlon studied the social history of the Near East at the University of Rochester and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He also completed a post-graduate certificate in the Conservation of Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings from Columbia University. At Columbia, he explored the potential of new media to facilitate the interpretation and conservation of the built environment. He eventually became the Director of the Visual Media Center at Columbia and participated in several important projects to document major monuments around the globe. We at Artstor had the pleasure of working with a generous, knowledgeable, and kind expert. Artstor will preserve and share Conlon’s beautiful collection of photographs with you now and for many years to come.

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April 25, 2008

Society of Architectural Historians Architectural Visual Resources Network

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has received a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop the SAH Architecture Visual Resource Network (SAH AVRN) a dynamic online library of architectural and landscape images for research and teaching.

To develop content for SAH AVRN, SAH is collaborating with scholars and librarians from partner institutions, initially MIT, Brown University and the University of Virginia to contribute images and metadata to SAH AVRN, a shared resource that will be widely available. Initially images will be contributed to SAH AVRN by scholars at the same three institutions who have agreed to share thousands of their own images that were taken for research and pedagogical purposes. To develop the technology for this online resource, SAH is working closely with Artstor, building upon the existing Artstor platform for storage, retrieval, viewing and presentation of images, and to develop tools to be used in conjunction with SAH AVRN.

For a full description of the SAH AVRN project, please visit sah.org.

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March 6, 2008

ARTstor awarded grant to create Judith and Holofernes Collection

We are pleased to announce that the Jessica E. Smith and Kevin R. Brine Charitable Trust has given ARTstor a grant to build a themed collection on the story of Judith and Holofernes. This collection will be part of a larger project – The Judith Project – commissioned by the donor to enhance scholarship on The Book of Judith and its later lexical and iconographical traditions in Western culture from antiquity to the present.

As part of this project to promote new scholarship, approximately 30 international scholars were selected by the donor and an academic panel to present papers in a conference at the New York Public Library on April 17-18, 2008. The conference will be followed by scholarly research trips this summer, some of which will incorporate the capture of original photography for the ARTstor collection. In addition to the conference and this special ARTstor collection, The Judith Project will include a comprehensive bibliographic reference tool on the topos of Judith that is being created by the New York Public Library, as well as a wiki jointly created by the NYPL and ARTstor that will serve as a scholarly commons. By embracing technological innovation, The Judith Project intends to provide scholars with new tools for multidisciplinary, creative collaboration. Well after the project formally concludes, this special ARTstor collection will live on in the Library for ongoing study and scholarship. For more information about the project, please see: http://workshops.nypl.org/judith/

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November 15, 2007

Artstor receives grant for preserving born digital images

The Library of Congress, through the National Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), has awarded Artstor a grant as part of its new Preserving Creative America initiative to address the long-term preservation of creative content in digital form.

The award will allow Artstor to conduct research with several individual photographers and organizations to determine what technical and preservation metadata should be captured and embedded in their files to help make their born digital images “archive-ready.” Artstor will also create a tool to help photographers embed technical and preservation data in their files. Data will extend beyond the camera data already captured by many digital cameras, but also include information on the authenticity of the file—what state or version the file represents, the original filename, whether any adjustments were done to the file in Photoshop or other applications (for example, tonal or color enhancements were performed, or particular content was cropped out of the image). The tool would allow for exporting this data embedded in the file into a database, whether a simple Excel spreadsheet, FilemakerPro database, Extensis Portfolio, or a digital asset management system.

To help determine data requirements and to test the tool, Artstor is partnering with: Northwestern University, a partner in developing the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive; The Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation, which is creating high resolution digital photographs of a substantial body of the Albers works; Rob Wilkinson from Art on File, an architectural photographer who documents contemporary architecture in the United States; and Artesia, a digital asset management system used by a range of non-profits and companies. The eventual minimal dataset will be mapped to the NISO Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images Standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.87 – 2006).

The project will begin with requirements gathering for the recommended minimal technical and preservation data that should be embedded in a digital still image file. The second phase will involve creating and testing an editing tool. The project should be completed in September 2009.

For more information please see the Library of Congress NDIIP website.

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November 15, 2007

Sharing Visual Arts Images for Educational Use: Finding a New Angle of Repose

The current issue of Educause Review features an article written by Artstor’s General Counsel, Gretchen Wagner. The article, “Sharing visual arts images for educational use: Finding a new angle of repose,” discusses current practices across campuses in building and maintaining institutional image repositories, and the copyright implications of such practices. The article encourages the sharing of these resources for teaching and scholarship through greater reliance on fair use.

Since the emergence of copystand photography in the early twentieth century, campuses have relied on the U.S. copyright doctrine of fair use to protect the now widespread practice of scanning images from books and other printed materials for use in the classroom. With the advent of digital technologies, educational institutions now have the opportunity to share those collections to meet the teaching needs of multiple institutions. Gretchen enumerates some of the disadvantages of maintaining the current, “siloed” approach, including the copyright implications of not asserting fair use in a shared context. She also describes some of Artstor’s experiences in working with rights holders in the visual arts, from which she asserts that visual arts images could be shared for teaching and study in ways that are consistent with fair use, and that would bring benefits to rights holders as well as to educational users.

The article is available online in full text through Educause Review.

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November 6, 2007

Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”: Final Images Added

Through an agreement with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Florence, Italy), ARTstor supported the rich photographic documentation of the recently restored bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, universally known as the “Gates of Paradise” (in Italian, “Porta del Paradiso”). The sculptural relief panels of the “Gates of Paradise,” produced during the second quarter of the fifteenth century by the great Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), constitute one of the most important art works of the early Italian Renaissance. After more than twenty-five years of work, the restoration of Ghiberti’s famous “Gates of Paradise” is now complete. ARTstor sponsored the comprehensive photographic documentation of the Gates of Paradise in their newly restored state. This photographic campaign produced nearly 750 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti’s relief sculptures in both their uncleaned and their restored states, all of which have been digitized by ARTstor and are available as part of the ARTstor Digital Library.

“These splendid new photos finally allow Ghiberti’s work to be seen and studied as the three-dimensional, sculptural masterpieces they are,” according to Gary M. Radke, Professor of Fine Arts at Syracuse University and Curator for Exhibitions of Italian Art at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. “Never before have we been able to study Ghiberti’s works so clearly and in such exhaustive detail. Taken from a wide variety of angles and under lighting conditions that reveal the full subtlety of Ghiberti’s modeling and finishing, these images will transform thinking about Ghiberti for decades to come.”
We are pleased to announce that we have just released the final 30 images, depicting the cleaned Noah panel.There are 30 images of the panel in both black-and-white in addition to the existing images of the uncleaned panel. These comparative materials underscore the importance of the recent restoration campaign and its photographic documentation by ARTstor.

To locate these and other images from the Ghiberti campaign in the ARTstor Image Gallery most readily, search for “Ghiberti Quattrone Noah,” so as to retrieve only these new photographs (produced by the outstanding Florentine photographer, Antonio Quattrone).

For more information about this collection see the Ghiberti Gates of Paradise Collection page.

You may also be interested in “A peek behind Ghiberti’s Florentine Baptistery Doors.

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March 13, 2007

Metropolitan Museum and ARTstor Announce Pioneering Initiative to Provide Digital Images to Scholars at No Charge

In a new initiative designed to assist scholars with teaching, study, and the publication of academic works, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will distribute, free of charge, high-resolution digital images from an expanding array of works in its renowned collection for use in academic publications. This new service, which is effective immediately, is available through ARTstor, a non-profit organization that makes art images available for educational use.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art has long sought to address the significant challenges that scholars confront in seeking to secure and license images of objects from the Museum’s collections,” stated Metropolitan Museum Director Philippe de Montebello in making the announcement. “We hope, through this collaboration, to play a pioneering role in addressing one of the profound challenges facing scholars in art history, and scholarly publishing, today.”

ARTstor’s Executive Director, James Shulman, added: “By taking such a bold step in supporting publications based on art-historical research, the Metropolitan is providing enormous leadership to the entire sector. Scholars – in higher education and in museums – have been struggling with the question of how digitization might help to enable, rather than hinder, scholarly communications. For all involved, it is obvious that, when faced with an important directional challenge, the Metropolitan is providing decisive leadership.”

Initially approached by the Metropolitan Museum in 2005 to develop this initiative, ARTstor has worked in close consultation with Metropolitan Museum staff to create its new service, entitled “Images for Academic Publishing” (IAP), which will make images available via software on the ARTstor Web site. Initially, nearly 1,700 images representative of the broad range of the Metropolitan Museum’s encyclopedic collection will be available through the more than 730 institutions that currently license ARTstor. Efforts to expand this accessibility are now underway and will be announced by ARTstor at a later date. For more information about ARTstor’s plans for its “Images for Academic Publishing” service, please send email to IAP@artstor.org.

ARTstor, a digital image library, was created in 2001 as a non-profit initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is now an independent non-profit organization dedicated to serving education and scholarship in the arts and humanities. The more than 730 non-profit institutions currently participating in ARTstor are located in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – founded in 1870 with a mission to collect, preserve, and display works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture from every part of the globe, and to educate the public about art – is the most comprehensive art museum in the Western Hemisphere with a collection now including more than two million works of art.

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March 2, 2007

The “competition panels” of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti from the Bargello (Florence, Italy)

In December 2006, ARTstor announced the completion of its project to visually document the recently cleaned bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, universally known as the “Gates of Paradise.” The sculptural relief panels of the “Gates of Paradise,” produced during the second quarter of the fifteenth century by the Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), constitute one of the most important art works of the early Italian Renaissance. The cleaning of Ghiberti’s famous bronze doors, which itself has required more than twenty-five years, is now richly documented in ARTstor through more than 900 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti’s relief sculptures, including some panels in their uncleaned or only partially cleaned state, and in both color and black-and-white.

ARTstor has now also sponsored a tandem photographic campaign – executed by the outstanding photographer, Antonio Quattrone, – to document the so-called “competition panels” in the Bargelo museum.The panels are renowned relief sculptures depicting the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” created by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi in 1401-1402 in hopes of securing the commission to produce the new set of Baptistery doors now known as the “Gates of Paradise.” Eighty-five color and black-and-white photographs of the panels, offering a wide range of details and viewing angles, are now available in ARTstor in digital form.

Andrew Butterfield, a leading scholar of Italian Renaissance sculpture, describes his recent use of these new images in a seminar he is teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University: “On Monday I received word that Quattrone’s new photographs of the competition panels were online and on Tuesday I gave a presentation of them to the students in my seminar on Ghiberti. Over the course of two hours of looking and comparing, the students came to see Ghiberti and the origins of Renaissance art in completely new terms. Much – perhaps even most – of what has been said about the panels is wrong and demonstrably so. In the standard interpretation … repeated in lecture halls around the world, Brunelleschi’s panel is said to be revolutionary, experimental, the first work of Renaissance sculpture …, while Ghiberti’s is said to be “Gothic” …. Well guess what? This is almost exactly opposite of what the pictures of the reliefs show.”

To locate the new images of the competition panels in the ARTstor Image Gallery most readily, search for “Bargello Quattrone,” so as to retrieve only these new photographs. Limit your search results to either Brunelleschi or Ghiberti to focus on either artist.

You may also be interested in “A peek behind Ghiberti’s Florentine Baptistery Doors.

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December 22, 2006

Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”: Additional Images

Through an agreement with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Florence, Italy), ARTstor has been supporting the rich photographic documentation of the recently restored bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, universally known as the “Gates of Paradise” (in Italian, “Porta del Paradiso”). The sculptural relief panels of the “Gates of Paradise,” produced during the second quarter of the fifteenth century by the great Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), constitute one of the most important art works of the early Italian Renaissance. After more than twenty-five years of work, the restoration of Ghiberti’s famous “Gates of Paradise” is nearing completion. ARTstor is sponsoring the comprehensive photographic documentation of the Gates of Paradise in their newly restored state. This photographic campaign has produced nearly 750 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti’s relief sculptures in both their uncleaned and their restored states, all of which have now been digitized by ARTstor and the majority of which are now available as part of the ARTstor Digital Library.

We are pleased now to announce now that we have just released approximately 150 black-and-white photographs of frieze elements from the Gates of Paradise in their state prior to the recent cleaning campaign. These comparative materials underscore the importance of the recent restoration campaign and its photographic documentation by ARTstor.

To locate these and other images from the Ghiberti campaign in the ARTstor Image Gallery most readily, search for “Ghiberti Quattrone,” so as to retrieve only these new photographs (produced by the outstanding Florentine photographer, Antonio Quattrone).

You may also be interested in “A peek behind Ghiberti’s Florentine Baptistery Doors.

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December 7, 2006

ARTstor to Collaborate in Documenting the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Rock-Cut Cave Temples at Ellora, India

ARTstor is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Dr. Deepanjana Danda Klein, through which ARTstor will digitize her unique archive of photographic documentation of the more than 30 rock-cut cave temples at Ellora, India. The approximately 2,500 black-and-white and approximately 4,500 color photographs of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave shrines at Ellora – produced in connection with a collaboration with Professor Walter Spink from University of Michigan and Deepanjana’s dissertation devoted to the site, now being published as an exhaustive scholarly study – will significantly strengthen and deepen ARTstor’s already strong collections in Asian Art.

Ellora has been described as a “site of outstanding cave temples, datable between c. AD 575 and the end of the 9th century, 20 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri Hills, Maharashtra, India. The caves were excavated into volcanic rock along a 2-km stretch of west-facing embankment; there are 34 major caves, numbered consecutively rather than chronologically, starting with the Buddhist group (Caves 1–12) in the south. Other groups are dedicated to the Brahmanical pantheon (Caves 14–29) and to Jainism (Caves 30–34). The most notable monument is Cave 16, the Kailasa Temple” which “represents the culmination of rock-cut architecture, with huge sculptural reliefs heightening the overall symbolism of the temple as cosmic mountain and as the home of Shiva” (Grove Art Online).

The present photographic campaign at Ellora represents the first systematic documentation of the entire site, including the first photographs of previously undocumented caves. Dr. Walter Spink, Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan, speaks to the significance of the current project when he says “Due to the knowledge, energy, and technical expertise of Dr. Deepanjana Danda Klein and the enthusiastic cooperation of her husband, Dr. Arno Klein, scholars now finally have a truly comprehensive photographic coverage of this great site’s varied Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain material.” And Max Marmor, ARTstor Director of Collection Development, expressed ARTstor’s enthusiasm for this collaboration. “We have long admired the South Asian documentary efforts that have emerged from the University of Michigan over many years. The inclusion within ARTstor of Deepanjana Danda Klein’s documentation of the immensely important shrines at Ellora will significantly enrich ARTstor’s already strong offerings in the art of India, anchored by the Huntington Archive of Asian Art and the ACSAA Color Slide Project materials just now being added to ARTstor.” The first fruits of this project should be available to ARTstor users early in 2007.

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