Sunday, February 21, 2021

Photoarchive Centennial Project


From The Frick Collection:

The Frick Photograph Campaigns turned out to be especially significant for the history of American art, most of which was unknown to art historians because it still hung in private homes. Having access to photos of these works of art allowed art historians to work systematically to improve scholarship. Books on American colonial painting that began to appear in the 1940s (such as James Flexner's First Flowers of Our Wilderness(link is external) and Waldron Phoenix Belknap's American Colonial Painting(link is external)) consistently cite the Frick photographs as the primary source for their visual material. Even today these images are of immense importance, for many of the works remain unpublished or, in some cases, have been lost or destroyed. In addition, they serve as documents of the state of American collections of art in the first half of the twentieth century.

As color photography had yet to be developed, the images the Frick obtained from its photography trips were all in black and white. While these images are very high quality and show more detail than current viewers may imagine, many have faded over time and some of the original negatives have deteriorated, making the images less valuable.

In 2019, Global Art Access came to the library and discussed a new project to digitize and make accessible to the public works of art belonging to private collectors. Global Art Access reasoned that while digitization and access initiatives have been prevalent within publicly accessible collections throughout the past decade, private collections remain largely inaccessible. By giving private collections the same digitization treatment, the works of art they contain could be more accessible to the public and more easily available for research purposes. (Read more.)

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