College Art Association

CAA News Today

In line with CAA’s practice to update regularly its Standards and Guidelines for professional practices in the visual arts, the Board of Directors approved one new and four revised guidelines at its meeting on October 23, 2011. The Professional Practices Committee, chaired by Charles Wright of Western Illinois University, worked with subcommittees over the past several years. Maria Ann Conelli, CAA vice president for committees, presented the documents to the board for approval.

Professional Practices for Artists

Beauvais Lyons of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, chaired the task force to update Professional Practices for Artists, first published in 1977. Extensive changes were made in sections pertaining to the code of ethics, copyright, safe use of materials and equipment, and exhibition and sales.

Standards for the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees in Studio Art

Judith Thorpe of the University of Connecticut chaired the task force to update Standards for the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts Degrees in Studio Art. A section on multidisciplinary curricula was added, and extensive changes were made to sections on the BFA and studio curriculum and on faculty and staff.

Standards for the Associate of Fine Arts Degree

A new document, Standards for the Associate of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Art, was developed to recognize that 50 percent of all college students in the United States attend institutions offering two-year degree programs. Bertha Gutman of the Delaware County Community College chaired the task force.

Peer Review in CAA Publications

Susan Waller of the University of Missouri, Saint Louis, and John Klein of Washington University in Saint Louis made up the task force that revised Peer Review in CAA Publications from 2004. The task force consulted the current editors-in-chief and editors-designate of The Art Bulletin and Art Journal as well as members of the Publications Committee that oversees the editorial boards of CAA’s three journals. The standards included a definition of peer review and addressed works submitted to the journals by artists.

Standards for the Retention and Tenure of Art and Design Faculty

Jim Hopfensperger of Western Michigan University chaired the task force on Standards for the Retention and Tenure of Art and Design Faculty. The revised standards recommend transparency in matters of renewal, retention, promotion, and tenure; specified contact hours; and added the categories of collaborative artworks, situated artworks, online work, commissions, consultations, and/or curatorial work to documentation to be considered for retention and promotion review.

CAA and other learned societies are increasingly aware of the complex demands and responsibilities entailed by scholarly publishing today. In an era of globalization and digitization, organizations must revisit long-standing assumptions and carefully reconsider the process of developing and reviewing publications. Among the critical issues are copyright, competing political and cultural sensitivities, and even differing international legal standards for what may and may not appear in print or online. In the fall of 2009, Paul Jaskot, then CAA president and in conjunction with the Board of Directors, formed a task force to study the organization’s editorial procedures and safeguards.

The seven-person Task Force on Editorial Safeguards included representation from CAA’s three editorial boards and the Publications Department staff. Meeting monthly by telephone from March to October 2010, and with continued consultation through January 2011, the group carefully documented and studied editorial procedures for each journal. It also gathered information about practices at similar academic periodicals—including those published commercially and by other scholarly associations. Ultimately, the task force was pleased to find that CAA’s editorial safeguards were already among the most through and progressive, though it recognized that they could be strengthened further. Based on its research, the task force made a series of recommendations, which the CAA board adopted at its February 2011 meeting.

The task force’s recommendations focused on three primary areas: identifying conflict of interest, establishing transition protocols, and enhancing training for editors. The group also instituted a clear protocol for responding to editorial concerns. Revised author packets will further clarify the responsibilities for those writing for CAA’s journals. Fact checking, for example, remains the province of the contributor, although peer reviewers and other editors will raise questions when warranted. The guidelines also established the retention of documents by editors, in consultation with the Publications Committee.

At its May 2011 meeting, the board added a further safeguard to those approved at its previous meeting. CAA now requires all new editors, editorial-board members, and committees members, including the board itself, to certify their adherence to the newly revised Statement on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality.

The Task Force on Editorial Safeguards, led by then CAA vice president for publications, Anne Collins Goodyear of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, comprised the following: Laura Auricchio, Parsons the New School for Design; Ikem Okoye, University of Delaware; Judith Rodenbeck, Sarah Lawrence College; and Rachel Weiss, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. CAA’s codirectors of publications, Betty Leigh Hutcheson and Joe Hannan, served as ex-officio members. The editors-in-chief and reviews editors of CAA’s three journals provided invaluable assistance to the task force, as did members of the Publications Committee. Alan Gilbert, CAA editor, also provided critical input.

At its May 2010 meeting, the CAA Board of Directors approved a resolution that updates the Standards for Retention and Tenure of Art Historians. Submitted by Anne Collins Goodyear, vice president for publications, the addendum urges academic tenure-and-promotions committees to consider and evaluate museum publications when making their deliberations. Exhibition catalogues, the resolution notes, may be published by an academic press or museum, or in association with a nonacademic press.

The following paragraphs, which are part of the addendum, provide background for the resolution:

During the past ten years, while academic publishing has been shrinking dramatically, museum publishing has flourished, moving to the forefront as the venue for much substantial scholarship in our field.

Museum exhibition and collection catalogues are not, by and large, peer-reviewed in the traditional sense. The long lead times required for blind peer review do not accommodate the tight schedules of most exhibition catalogues, which must appear when shows open. Yet exhibition catalogues do undergo a form of peer review. Though not blind, it is thorough, as the collaborative curatorial teams that produce exhibition catalogues, and museums’ editorial departments and consultants, carefully evaluate the scholarship contained within, striving to ensure that it is accurate and of the highest possible quality.

In the past, one argument lodged against exhibition catalogues has been that the essays can vary in quality. Some essays in exhibition catalogues—at times in the same catalogue—contain original, important scholarship, while others can be included for political reasons, perhaps to secure certain loans or financial contributions essential to the successful mounting of a show. In fact, this situation is not fundamentally different from scholarship published in festschrifts, anthologies, or other non-museum collections of scholarly essays. It is not unusual for some authors in such publications to be included for practical, rather than scholarly, reasons. Yet this does not disqualify every essay in these publications from being considered in tenure decisions.

Helen Evans of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lucy Oakley of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University authored the proposal, with input from the Publications Committee. The Professional Practices Committee, which reviews new and revised Standards and Guidelines, endorsed the proposal, which the board then passed.

The addendum has been added to Standards for Retention and Tenure of Art Historians and joins updates made in 2005 and 2007. CAA encourages you to review all official Standards and Guidelines for professionals in the visual arts.

Earlier this year, the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) published an issue brief estimating 72.5 percent of all faculty members at American colleges and universities are contingent, that is, they do not have tenure or are not on the tenure track. Since no comprehensive national data exist for pay scales, benefits, working conditions, and involvement in departmental decision-making—let alone specifics on academic-based artists and art historians, and for university museum researchers—this figure cannot be verified.

For this reason, CAW has developed a Survey of Contingent Faculty Members and Instructors, which will examine compensation and working conditions, among other issues, at the institutional and course levels. The goal of the survey, which is live from September 27 to November 30, 2010, is to gather accurate information so that CAW may advocate more effectively at the local and national level.

As an active CAW member, CAA supports workforce equity through its Standards and Guidelines, advocacy efforts, and data compilation, and it urges all contingent faculty, instructors, and researchers to complete this survey and to alert others to do the same.

Open to full- and part-time teachers, graduate students (remunerated as teaching assistants or employed in other roles), researchers, and postdoctoral fellows, the survey is an excellent opportunity for CAW to count contingent faculty properly and record their working conditions. Survey results will be shared with you once they are compiled. This information will also contribute to a national database that will assist future advocacy work.

CAA specifically requested that the survey include distinct categories for artists, art historians, and related researchers, so that the visual arts will be fully represented. On an individual level, the conclusions drawn may help determine your working conditions in relation to national trends. Results will also inform specific CAA Contingent Faculty Standards and Guidelines, as well as future advocacy by CAA on your behalf.

Take the Survey of Contingent Faculty Members and Instructors now. If you have questions about it or about CAW, please contact Linda Downs, CAA executive director.

Read reactions to the survey in Inside Higher Ed.

The Center for Social Media, part of the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, has published the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication. Patricia Aufderheide, the center’s director, and Peter Jaszi, a professor of law at the university’s Washington College of Law and head of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, worked with an ad hoc committee on fair use and academic freedom assembled by the International Communication Association to write the text.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication is targeted to the work of communications scholars, which draws on the empirical research methods of the social sciences and the qualitative studies of the humanities.

Like their counterparts in other academic areas, including art and art history, communications scholars are often unsure of their rights under United States copyright law. The new best practices give them general information about fair use and describe four situations in which it usually applies: analysis, criticism, and commentary of copyrighted works; quoting copyrighted material for illustration; using copyrighted work to stimulate response, discussion, and other reactions during research; and storing copyrighted material in personal collections and archives.

For more on how copyright relates to art and art history, please visit CAA’s website section on Intellectual Property and the Arts.

The Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums (AAM) approved revisions to its 2005 policy “Statements of Support from Parent Organizations” at its March 2010 meeting.

Why Did It Change?

The impetus was a request from a task force formed in 2009, which included Linda Downs, CAA executive director, to focus on the issue of protecting academic collections. The Task Force on University and College Museums, of which AAM is a member, was organized in response to the disturbing trend of selling collections from academic museums as a short-sighted response to the current economic downturn (e.g., the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the Maier Museum at Randolph College, and the Fisk University Galleries). Of course, the threat of a parent organization treating collections as disposable assets, or the undervaluing of the museum and its collections as essential intellectual and educational resources, is not limited to college and university museums.

The purpose of the policy since it debuted in 2005 is to give the Accreditation Commission some assurance of the sustainability and longevity of an institution that is not autonomous. Museums, in turn, have found that the commission’s policy—and the conversations that surround the need to secure the appropriate documentation—helps strengthen their presence and articulate their essential role within their parent organization. The policy also serves as an opportunity to educate the parent organization’s leadership about museum standards and ethics. The expanded language in the document will support museums in this regard as well as offer to them greater protection from threats to their tangible and intangible assets held in the public trust.

What Changed?

To whom the policy applies (see below) and the basic requirement of evidence of support did not change. The Accreditation Commission added new language to the policy emphasizing:

  • the role, value, and use of collections
  • ethics and standards regarding collections
  • specific language that stresses that a museum’s collections should not be considered as disposable assets by a parent organization

When you access the policy online, you will see the new language indicated in red.

Is My Museum Affected?

The policy may not apply to your museum, but it is important for you to know about the nature of the changes.

The policy applies to your museum if it operates within a larger parent organization, such as: college or university; tribal, municipal, state, or federal government; state historical society supervising multiple sites; corporate foundation, etc. A museum that has a parent organization relies on that parent for some or all of its human, physical, and/or financial resources. Approximately 37 percent of all accredited museums operate within a parent organization. Over 40 percent of this subgroup is part of a college or university.

Questions

If you have any questions or comments about the new policy and how it affects your museum, please contact the Accreditation Program staff.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Styles
Director, Illinois State Museum and Accreditation Commission Chair

William Eiland
Director, Georgia Museum of Art, Accreditation Commissioner, and Member of the Task Force on University and College Museums

Julie Hart
Senior Director of Museum Standards and Excellence, American Association of Museums

May 17 Update: Lee Rosenbaum reported on the “Statements of Support from Parent Organizations” in her ArtsJournal blog, Culturegrrl.

“Authenticating Art: Current Problems and Proposed Solutions” was the topic for a panel presentation and discussion sponsored by CAA and the Appraisers Association of America. Held on January 20, 2010, the event was hosted by and took place in the auditorium of the Levin Institute in Manhattan for its 120 guests.

The panelists were: John Cahill of the New York–based law firm Lynn and Cahill; Jane Jacob from Jacob Fine Art, an art consultancy in Chicago; James Martin of Orion Analytical, a materials analysis and consultancy firm based in Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Jane Levine from the auction house Sotheby’s New York. Michele Marincola, a professor of conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, served as moderator for the discussion.

CAA’s new best practices on Authentications and Attributions, approved in October 2009, played an important referential role among myriad opinions offered by legal experts, conservators, gallery owners, and material analysts—to say nothing of the various aspects of law that may apply to collectors, buyers and sellers, appraisers, and auction houses. Indeed, the guidelines were praised by panelists and audience members for their “reasoned and thoughtful advice” and recommended repeatedly as an essential resource on the subject.

Panel presentations cited specific circumstances surrounding well-known art forgeries by Greek and Roman sculptors from as far back as two millennia, to more recent master forgerers, including Elmyr de Hory, Eric Hebborn, John Myatt, and Leo Nardus. One of the most famous forgeries by Han van Meegeren, of Johannes Vemeer’s Supper at Emmaus, was completed in 1937 and sold for what today would be well over $2.5 million. Some forgerers also borrowed authentic works of art from collectors, copied the work, returned the undetected copy to the owner, and then sold the original to a third party. Historical and modern-day problems with attribution, revelations during conservation procedures, and new analytical techniques and forensic equipment were also presented. Similarly, matters of law such as breach of contract, false certificates of authenticity, and false (but not criminal) representation or court testimony were highlighted.

The evening was informative, provocative, and timely but lacked one critical professional perspective: namely, that of the art historian, art-museum curator, or art connoisseur. Indeed, art-historical documentation, stylistic connoisseurship, and scientific analysis are the three aspects of authentication that create a “consensus of evidence” as recommended in the CAA guidelines. Were it not for this shortcoming, the event would have enlightened even further the practice, if not the controversy, of art authentication.

For interested members who will attend CAA’s centennial Annual Conference in New York in 2011, the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association (a CAA affiliated society) will present a panel on authentication that addresses issues confronted by art historians and curators who authenticate.

The Appraisers Association of America and CAA cordially invite you to a presentation of “Authenticating Art: Current Problems and Proposed Solutions,” which will include a discussion of CAA’s recently published guidelines on Authentication and Attributions. The panel will be held at the Levin Institute in New York (116 East 55th Street in Manhattan) on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 6:00–9:00 PM; it can also be seen via live webcast.

When it comes to art, “Is it real?” is a question that interests everyone from casual museum-goers to arts professionals. Answering the question can involve historical research, connoisseurship, sophisticated scientific analysis, and more. The question, however, is not only an academic or philosophical one. (Is a Warhol a “Warhol” if the artist himself never touched it?) In an art market where millions—and sometimes tens of millions—can hang in the balance, who is willing to risk being wrong in offering an opinion about authenticity? For those who do offer opinions and even warranties, what are they risking, and what—if anything—should they be risking? What of those who create fakes?

Please join our expert panel of appraisers, attorneys, conservators, and scientists in a frank and lively discussion of these issues. Speakers include: John Cahill of Lynn & Cahill; Jane C. H. Jacob of the Appraisers Association of America and Jacob Fine Art; James S. Martin of Orion Analytical; and Jane Levine of Sotheby’s. Michele Marincola of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts is the moderator.

This program may interest appraisers, artists, attorneys, dealers, auction specialists, collectors, conservators, curators, financial advisors, insurers, scholars, and others in, or interested in, the art world.

Seating is limited; advance registration is required for both formats. Kindly RSVP to 212-889-5404, ext. 11. Cost is $25 per person for live attendance or streaming video. To complete the process, download and submit the registration form. Deadline: January 13, 2010.

Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker is CAA’s vice president for committees. She is also professor of Asian art history, Carver Chair in East Asian Studies, and provost and dean of the faculty at Mills College in Oakland, California.

In line with CAA’s practice to update regularly its Standards and Guidelines for professional practices in the fields of art and art history, the Board of Directors approved three revised guidelines for art historians and a new one for academic art administrators at its meeting on October 25, 2009. This work was carried out by four task forces, established by CAA’s president Paul B. Jaskot and executive director Linda Downs, that were overseen by the Professional Practices Committee.

Professional Practices for Art Historians

Authentications and Attributions (2009): The task force appointed by President Jaskot established the need for a stand-alone and separate document for art historians regarding authentications and attributions of works of art. It was determined that no other issue is more urgent for, and its consequences so specific to, the welfare of the profession than dealing with inauthenticity and false attributions. Not only is the integrity of artists and collections at stake, but the economic well-being of art historians who engage in trying to separate the false from the true is also endangered.

Information about authentications and attributions formerly appeared in A Code of Ethics for Art Historians and Guidelines for the Professional Practice of Art History.

Guidelines for Curatorial-Studies Programs (2009): A growing number of colleges and universities across the country have instituted programs in curatorial studies. The revisions for the document, first published in 2004, are intended to help art departments and administrators organizing curricula and to aid faculty advisors and students determining which curatorial-studies programs are appropriate for an individual’s specific interests, abilities, and career goals.

Standards for Retention and Tenure of Art Historians (2009): This guideline, last revised in 2005, has been amended to embrace community and two-year colleges. Inclusion of community colleges into these standards will make this document relevant for art-history faculty who attempt to achieve the highest stands of professional practices in such institutions. It will also help to validate the objectives of professionals who have few peers to support them in their efforts to improve the practice of art history at their institutions.

Professional Practices for Academic Art Administrators

Standards and Guidelines for Academic Art Administrators (2009): This document will serve as a resource for emerging, new, and current academic art administrators, as well as benefiting other CAA members seeking guidance regarding the role of academic art administrators operating in a visual-arts context. The task force was made up of administrators from diverse geographical regions and varied professional experiences that included program directors, chairs and division heads, directors of schools of art, associate deans, deans, and vice presidents.

Acknowledgments

I want to thank all the members of the four task forces (listed respectively on the webpages of their Standards and Guidelines), who worked together to revise and create these Standards and Guidelines. In particular I want to acknowledge the work of Maxine Payne, chair of the Professional Practices Committee, who so diligently worked on all this material and encouraged each task force along the way.

“Even as the use of electronic media has become common across fields for research and teaching,” reports Scott Jaschik at Insider Higher Ed, “what is taken for granted among young scholars is still foreign to many of those who sit on tenure and promotion committees.”

While junior professors lament the exclusion or diminution from tenure reviews of their born-digital work, whether publication or project, the Modern Language Association (MLA) and a group called the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) are tackling the issue head on with new guides that offer tenure committees help in properly evaluating digital scholarship. MLA’s Information Technology Committee is developing these guides through a wiki, which publishes both finished and in-progress work.

In his article, “Tenure in a Digital Era,” Jaschik examines the many perceptions and problems at issue, including peer review; digital and print publications; and work that crosses traditional categories of research, teaching, and service.