Project Directors Glenn Wharton, Art History & Conservation of Material Culture, UCLA/ Deena Engel, Computer Science, New York University
Project Description The Artist Archives Initiative was founded at New York University to promote research and disseminate knowledge about the display and care of contemporary art. The initiative responds to a growing need for art world professionals and academic researchers to work with artists in building information resources to aid future exhibition and re-activation of their work.
The focus is equally on the content of these resources and the software technology used to house the information. In addition to creating artist-specific resources, our aim is to stimulate discussion about variability and authenticity in the display of contemporary art through symposia, workshops, and publications.
Project Significance The project responds to a growing need to document the work and concerns of contemporary artists who employ ephemeral media on which their work is conceptually dependent. Many artists who create media installations and performance art transfer interpretive authority to those who acquire their work. Future interpretation, along with conservation interventions, will rely on the documentation provided by artist studios, archivists, conservators, art historians, curators and others involved with the work during the lifetime of the artist. Other models for artist archives are already emerging, and this project will build on these efforts in the design of an archive suited to exhibiting and conserving the art of our times. Among these efforts art the INCCA Artist Archives Database and the Guggenheim Panza Collection Initiative. Artist foundations such as the Donald Judd Foundation and the Calder Foundation conduct similar research and provide exhibition and conservation information on their websites.
The results of the research will be made accessible through academic publications, symposia and a web-accessible resource managed by NYU Libraries and the Fales Library & Special Collections. We anticipate that this knowledge base will be used by curators, conservators, and researchers in the future to resolve questions about exhibiting and conserving contemporary works of art.