CAA News Today

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

October 2014

Cover of the catalogue for Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound

Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound
Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Fourth Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238
October 24, 2014–March 29, 2015

Bringing together sculptures and works on paper that span the eighteen years of her career, this much-awaited exhibition is the first survey of Judith Scott’s work that Matthew Higgs has described as “one of the most important bodies of work—‘insider’ or ‘outsider’—produced anywhere and under any circumstances in the past twenty years.”

Judith and her twin sister Joyce were born in Columbus Ohio. Judith was diagnosed with Down syndrome and considered retarded due to learning difficulties caused from undiagnosed deafness. At the age of eight she was tragically separated from her sister and spent the next thirty-five years of her life as ward in Dickensian institutions for the disabled and the discarded. Her art production began after Joyce decided to become Judith’s legal guardian and introduced her to a visionary studio-art program, the Creative Growth Art Center.

Judith Scott developed a unique and idiosyncratic method to produce a body of work of remarkable originality and visual complexity. Often working for weeks or months on individual pieces, she begun by pilfering and assembling together all sorts of objects; she then enveloped and intertwined them with miscellaneous threads, twines, strings, ropes, and fibers, somewhat protecting and concealing their core. As the art historian Lucienne Peiry says, her unconventional textile sculptures “are endowed with an intense power of expression: they resemble giant multicolored cocoons and … are evocative of magical fetishes” holding a special connection to life and death. Moreover, although it does not appear that her work was directed by intention, “these sculptures conceal a secret that their author always took great care to hide…. There is no doubt but that the sculptures themselves play an essential role in embodying the physical presence—that of ‘the other twin’—throughout the feverish act of creation. Judith Scott’s approach thus involved a process that may seem paradoxical because, on one hand, it consisted of dissimulating and concealing, and on the other hand, of growing and shaping…. The emotional and physical reunion with her sister led Judith Scott to recover an identity, and then to develop an intimate experience at a fantasy level where she sublimated the tearing apart of which she was a victim.”

Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden
Stedelijk Museum
Museumplein 10, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
September 6, 2014–January 4, 2015

Closely examining key themes and motifs that Marlene Dumas has developed throughout her career, Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden is the first major solo exhibition of her work in the Netherlands in twenty years. It is also the most comprehensive retrospective survey of her work in Europe to date. The title of the exhibition derives from the work The Image as Burden (1993) and refers to the conflict between the painterly gesture and the illusion of the painted image. The exhibition brings together almost two hundred drawings and paintings from private and museum collections throughout the world.

Dumas was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1953 and moved to Amsterdam after her studies at the Ateliers ‘63 in Haarlem. Today she is considered one of the most significant and influential painters. While often inspired by images found in newspapers and magazines, she has been renewing the meaning of painting in an era dominated by visual culture. Believing that the endless stream of photographic images that bombards us every day influences how we see each other and the world around us, she redresses this onslaught by focusing on the psychological, social, and political aspects of the image. Her intense, emotionally charged paintings and drawings address existentialist themes and often reference art-historical motifs and current political issues.

In addition to her most important and iconic works, the exhibition presents lesser-known paintings and drawings, including many works never before seen in the Netherlands, and a selection of her most recent paintings. While paying special attention to her early Amsterdam production (1976–82), the Stedelijk presentation features a number of exclusive highlights, such as a gallery devoted to drawings that have come straight from her studio, which have rarely been on public view, and the one-hundred-piece series Models from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum.

Niki de Saint Phalle
Grand Palais Galeries Nationales
Paris, France
September 17–February 2, 2015

Curated by Camille Morineau for the Grand Palais and traveling to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, this is a major retrospective of the work of Niki de Saint Phalle, one of the most popular and innovative artists of the previous century. Mapping the opposing and often conflicting forces of eros and thanatos, creation and destruction, joie de vivre and trauma, feminity and masculinity, that underpin her production and illuminating key aspects of her poetics and multifaceted politics, the exhibition brings together an incredible assortment of her prolific oeuvre in all the media that she worked—paintings, assemblages, sculptures, works on paper, films, theater settings, illustrated books, etc.

Already by the early 1960s de Saint Phalle had an unusually successful international career for a female artist of her time. Propelled by the outrageousness of her shooting events as well as the joie de vivre of her signature Nanas, her fame quickly transcended not only national borders but continents, often providing rare inspiration to other female artists as manifested by her inclusion, by Mona Gorovitz in a 1965 essay in São Paolo that highlighted the achievements of women artists. While honored with major museum shows, retrospectives, including a museum dedicated to her in Japan, both posthumously and while still living, the complexities of de Saint Phalle’s contribution to international postwar avant-garde and their diverse politics, including the feminism underpinning her work, have not yet been fully examined or appreciated. Her recent inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art’s sixties rooms acknowledges finally her place in postwar Neodada and Pop scene; yet the failure of this exhibition to be hosted in an American institution proves the ongoing resistance to embrace de Saint Phalle as a great artist rather than a beautiful woman or just the partner of Jean Tinguely, an exotic outsider, a commercially successful irrelevance, a naïve colorist or essentialist. Illuminating lesser-known bodies of works with feminist effects, such as her series Devouring Mothers, and accompanied with a catalogue that brings together leading scholars of postwar art, de Saint Phalle and feminist art—such as Amelia Jones and Sarah Wilson, in thorough investigation of all periods and aspects of her work, including her life and writings, the exhibition offers a serious reassessment of de Saint Phalle’s work and its importance.

De Saint Phalle was born in France to an upper-class family of aristocratic and Catholic Franco-American origins and raised in New York. Although educated for the “marriage market,” and briefly modeling, she turned decisively to art upon a nervous breakdown while leading an unconventional family life in France. In the early 1960s she left her children to devote herself to art, eventually joining Tinguely to an extraordinary creative partnership that outlived their relationship. In 1961 she was the only female artist accepted in the circle of New Realism in Paris for her shooting paintings, themselves a groundbreaking performative and participatory form of painting by gun, but the politics of her work were also welcomed as example of the Figuration Narrative. Around 1963 she rediscovered herself as a sculptor, channeling the protofeminist underpinnings of her multifaceted rebellion against patriarchal power to a critical investigation of the stereotypical role of the feminine in Western society as well as an empowering and celebratory reenvisioning of it through the grotesque and joyous bodies of her now signature Nanas. Complementing her own critical contemplation on maternity and motherhood, her pioneering film Daddy in 1973 (in collaboration with Peter Whiteread) debunked patriarchal power, daringly addressing and revenging a repressed childhood trauma, her violation by her father, that she would later continue to address in autobiographic writings. In interviews of the early 1960s, de Saint Phalle, however, was always describing one major driving dream of her practice since her first encounter of the work of Gaudí and Facteur Cheval: to make joyous sculpture gardens. Since the 1970s she indeed channeled her energy in making her dream a reality, with a true belief in the life-changing democratic power of joy-giving public art. Her magnum opus, The Tarot Garden (1978–98), is the ultimate proof of the ambition and vision, monumentality and complexities of her architectural sculptural oeuvre, but so are many homes, playgrounds, public fountains, and sculptural complexes around the world that unfold central themes of her mythopoetic imagination and its politics.

Mika Tajima: Total Body Conditioning
Art in General
79 Walker Street, New York, NY 10013
September 13–October 25, 2014

Art in General presents Total Body Conditioning,a new commission by the New York–based artist Mika Tajima. Invoking technologies developed to control and affect the body, the exhibition is presented as three scenes: display, work, and fitness. Each scene in the exhibition outlines bodily experiences in different time and space. Contexts change, while the human body consistently becomes a target of power, where individual practices of freedom are intertwined with modes of domination.

Born in Los Angeles in 1975, Tajima use sculpture, painting, video, music, and performance to investigate how material objects define the action and engagement of the performing subject in a constructed space.

Exhibited works include hot-tub painting, reverse spray enameled in saturated gradient colors. Created specifically for the exhibition, these objects are ergonomically molded to the human form, emphasizing how the body is articulated in relation to an object. Tajima will also present a new group of works from her Furniture Art series. This consist of spray-enameled transparent paintings that are subtitled based on diverse geographic locations that draw on the psychological and geographic associations produced by the affective names of industrial colors and paints.

In addition, the exhibition features Negative Entropy, a new series of abstract acoustic-woven textile portraits resulted from recordings at a Toyota car factory in Japan and a server collocation center. The recordings were translated into image files and later interpreted by a weaving designer into a tangible fabric. Many of the works in the exhibition are set to shifting lighting and sound sequences, among them, a sound collaboration between New Humans, a group with which Tajima has collaborated before.

Disobedient Objects
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL United Kingdom
July 26, 2014–February 1, 2015

The Victoria and Albert Museum presents Disobedient Objects, a pioneering exhibition that investigates the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. Focusing on the period from the late 1970s until now, a time of constant technological development and political challenges, the exhibition demonstrates how political activism drives toward a collective creativity that challenges standard definitions of art and design. Evidencing arts of rebellion from around the world, the object are mostly produced by “nonprofessional” makers that work collaboratively with limited and accessible resources, resulting in effective responses to complex situations.

Since many of the artifacts were loaned directly from activist groups, the objects exhibited were hardly ever seen in a museum before. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to observe these Disobedient Objects within a contextual background that includes newspaper cuttings, how-to guides, interviews, and footage of the objects in action, along with the makers’ statement explaining how and why the objects were created.

The exhibition is organized in several sections, including the introduction of the design of activist objects in relation to four ways of effecting social change: direct action, speaking out, making worlds, and solidarity. From a tableau of three puppets used in protests against the first Gulf War by the politically radical United States–based Bread and Puppet Theater, to simple pamphlets, to hand-painted placards by gay-rights activists, to banners used in conjunction with social media—solidarity can be demonstrated by even the smallest objects.

The final part of the exhibition maps out every “visual” protest since 1979. The case studies include an installation of masks and posters by the Guerrilla Girls, the anti–death penalty Tiki-Love Truck by the artist Carrie Reichardt, and a project by the Barbie Liberation Organization, responsible for switching the voice boxes on hundred of toys, including talking GI Joe and Barbie dolls, a project that sparked a widespread discussion about gender stereotypes.

Katie Paterson: Future Library
Oslo, Norway

The Berlin-based artist Katie Paterson launched Future Library, her new public artwork that will unfold over the next one hundred years in the city of Oslo, Norway. From 2014 to 2114, Paterson, along the leading publishers and editors from Future Library Trust, will invite one writer every year to contribute a new text to a growing collection of the as-yet unpublished and unread manuscripts. The Future Library project has received its foundations as a gift from the City of Oslo: a forest in Nordmarka. There, Paterson planted one thousand new trees in May 2014. These trees will be cut down in 2114 in order to provide the paper on which the commissioned texts along a century will be printed as an anthology of books. Currently, Future Library exists as a limited-edition “certificate” print that entitles the holder to a copy of the anthology in 2114, an anthology of stories that will only be read beyond the lifetime of certificate holders, writers, and the artist herself.

Paterson (b. 1981, Glasgow) is known for her conceptually driven works that make use of sophisticated technologies. Her poetic installations evidence her philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment, an engagement that derives from an intensive and sensitive research and collaboration with specialists as diverse as astronomers, geneticists, nanotechnologists, and fireworks.

Paterson has named the prizewinning author, poet, essayist, and literary critic Margaret Atwood as the first writer to contribute to Future Library. Atwood has begun writing the first text that will be handed over at a special event to be held in May 2015. While the forest shows the slow growth of the trees and the library, inch by inch, year by year, Paterson’s work engages with the landscape, as a physical entity and as an idea. As Atwood stated when invited to be part of this endeavor: “This project, at least, believes the human race will still be around in a hundred years!”—a hopeful sense of reality that stands beyond the purely visible.

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CAA is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of travel support through the CAA-Getty International Program. In an effort to promote greater interaction and exchange between American and international art historians and artists, CAA will bring colleagues from around the world to its Annual Conference, this year to be held in New York City from February 11-14, 2015. This is the fourth year of the program, which has been generously funded by grants from the Getty Foundation since its inception. The participants—professors of art history, curators, and artists who teach art history—were selected by a jury of CAA members from a highly competitive group of applicants. Their names and affiliations are listed below. In addition to covering travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and per diems, the CAA-Getty International Program includes support for conference registration and a one-year CAA membership.

The CAA-Getty International Program participants’ activities begin with a one-day preconference colloquium on international issues in art history, during which they meet with U.S.-based CAA members to discuss common interests and challenges. The participants are assisted throughout the conference by CAA member hosts, who recommend relevant panel sessions and introduce them to specific colleagues who share their interests. Members of CAA’s International Committee have agreed to serve as hosts, along with representatives from several Affiliated Societies of CAA.

CAA hopes that this program will not only increase international participation in the organization’s activities, but will also expand international networking and the exchange of ideas both during and after the conference. The CAA-Getty International Program supplements CAA’s regular program of Annual Conference Travel Grants for graduate students and international artists and scholars. We look forward to welcoming the recipients at the next Annual Conference in New York City.

2015 CAA-Getty International Program Participants

Mokammal Bhuiyan, Professor, Department of Archeology, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh

Dafne Cruz Porchini, Curator, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico

Boureima Diamitani, Executive Director, West African Museums Program, Burkina Faso

Ljerka Dulibic, Senior Research Associate, Curator of Italian Paintings 1400-1900, Strossmayer, Gallery of Old Masters, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Croatia

Georgina Gluzman, Assistant Professor of Argentine Art History, Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina

Angelo Kakande, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of Industrial Arts and Applied Design, Makarere University, College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology, Uganda

Nazar Kozak, Senior Researcher, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Department of Art Historical Studies, Ukraine

Savita Kumari, Assistant Professor, National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, India

Nomusa Makhubu, Lecturer, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Ana Mannarino, Adjunct Professor of Art History, Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil

Marton Orosz, Curator, and Director of the Vasarely Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary

Andrey Shabanov, Associate Research Fellow, Lecturer, European University at St. Petersburg, Art History Department, Russia

Shao Yiyang, Professor, Head of Western Art Studies, Central Academy of Fine Arts, China

Lize Van Robbroeck, Associate Professor, Stellenbosch University, Department of Visual Arts, South Africa

Nora Veszpremi, Lecturer, Institute of Art History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

Parody Copyright Laws Set to Come into Effect

Changes to legislation in the United Kingdom allowing the parody of copyright works are set to come into force. Under current rules, there has been a risk of being sued for breach of copyright if clips of films, TV shows, or songs were used without consent. But the new European Copyright Directive will allow the use of the material so long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version. (Read more from BBC News.)

How the UK’s New Copyright Law Benefits Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A suite of new copyright exceptions in the United Kingdom’s legislative framework will mean that infringements, such as format shifting for personal use of legitimately bought or gifted works, will be legitimized, and as a result, bad and impossible to police laws will finally be removed from the statute books. But the other beneficiaries of these important and in some cases, sweeping changes, will be libraries, archives, educational establishments, and museums. (Read more from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.)

Authors Guild vs. Google: Fair Use or Foul Play?

Google has digitized millions of books for its Google Books Library Project, a database that allows a user to search the content of all books that have been scanned into it. The Authors Guild maintains that the project constitutes mass copyright infringement, because Google did not obtain licenses from the rights holders for millions of the books. When the Authors Guild sued Google in the Southern District of New York for copyright infringement, Google prevailed via fair use. The Authors Guild has appealed the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is pending and being briefed. The entertainment attorney Mark Robertson discussed the case with Jay Dougherty of Loyola Law School Los Angeles, where he is a professor of law. (Read more from the Los Angeles Review of Books.)

Inquiry: Art Law and Attribution

The quest for compensation and probing legal investigations into how alleged Knoedler Gallery fraud could have happened has exposed the processes behind art sales, forcing the thorny issue of what should be the reasonable and reasoned business of authentication and attribution into the spotlight. However, recent years have seen many expert sources become increasingly wary of assisting in authentication processes, something that can be equated directly with the pressure of market value and the difficulties inherent in the process. (Read more from Apollo.)

JSTOR, Daily

Much of the world’s knowledge is contained in JSTOR, a vast digital academic library. But most of that content is behind a subscription wall. And if you’re not looking for something specific—or even if you are—attempting to take in all that knowledge can be an overwhelming experience. Wanting to make JSTOR’s content more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience, the library has launched a new online magazine, JSTOR Daily. (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

For Adjuncts, a Lot Is Riding on Student Evaluations

In February 2012, Miranda Merklein received the email that many adjunct professors dread. “I am sorry to inform you that we cannot extend an employment offer to you at this time,” wrote a department chair at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, where Merklein had been teaching English and writing courses as an adjunct. “A review of your course evaluations, coupled with concerns filed by students and other contributing faculty, resulted in the decision to remove your application from the liberal arts adjunct pool.” At first, Merklein recalled, she was shocked. Then she got angry. (Read more from Vitae.)

An Open Letter to Journal Editors

I write to you today about the graduate-student submissions you receive. Most of you publish a lot of them. That’s because today’s students do first-rate work. Nonetheless, I’ve got an idea for you: What if you stopped publishing articles by doctoral students until they graduated? (Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

What Is the Fair Market Value of a Museum Job?

Last week’s post on “The Museum Sacrifice Measure” generated much discussion on Twitter and Facebook and in the Center for the Future of Museum blog’s comment section. A number of commenters point out that various categories of people, in museums or other sectors, have “sacrificed” income for their chosen career but are quite pleased with the trade. (Read more from the Center for the Future of Museums.)

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The opening essay of the September 2014 issue of The Art Bulletin, the leading publication of international art-historical scholarship, is by the Brazilan scholar Claudia Mattos, who examines local and global view on art history in “Geography, Art Theory, and New Perspectives for an Inclusive Art History.”

In other essays in the issue: Douglas Brine explores the memorializing function of Jan van Eyck’s van der Paele Virgin, with particular attention to its commissioning and original setting. Mitchell B. Merback considers the moral and phenomenological implications of a monstrous visage, reflected in the Centurion’s armor, in Hans Burgkmair’s Crucifixion in Augsburg. In “Watteau, Reverie, and Selfhood,” Aaron Wile finds that the French artist’s fêtes galantes establish a new relationship between painting and viewer, characterized by reverie and a modern sense of interiority. Finally, Rebecca Brown looks at the exhibitions associated with the 1985–86 Festival of India in the United States and how they isolated Indian art from broader movements in modern and contemporary art.

In the Reviews section, Matthew P. McKelway considers books by Alexander Hofmann and by Yukio Lippit on painting in early modern Japan. J. M. Mancini reviews Zahid R. Chaudhary’s Afterimage of Empire: Photography in Nineteenth-Century India, and Ebba Koch examines Santhi Kavuri-Bauer’s Monumental Matters: The Power, Subjectivity, and Space of India’s Mughal Architecture.

CAA sends The Art Bulletin to all institutional members and to those individuals who choose to receive the journal as a benefit of their membership. The digital version at Taylor & Francis Online is currently available to all CAA individual members.

In the next issue of the quarterly journal, December 2014, Cheng-hua Wang offers a global perspective on eighteenth-century Chinese visual culture in “Whither Art History.” The feature essays offer new research and a reinterpretation of the Greek statue known as the Motya Youth, an analysis of two editions of a print series published in seventeenth-century Antwerp, an exploration of the Rococo revival in mid-nineteenth-century Austria, and a reading of Ad Reinhardt’s black square paintings as object lessons in Marxist dialectics. The issue will also include reviews on Maya art, color, and theories of visual culture.

Digital Art History Takes Off

posted by October 07, 2014

Written by Anne Collins Goodyear and Paul B. Jaskot.

This summer four institutes held on the east and west coasts provided opportunities for art historians—both academics and museum professionals—to increase their familiarity with the tools and opportunities presented by a computational approach to “doing” art history. These programs, underwritten by the Getty and Samuel H. Kress Foundations took place at Harvard’s metaLAB (Beautiful Data: Telling Stories About Art with Open Collections, June 16–27, Getty Foundation), George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (Rebuilding the Portfolio: DH for Art Historians, July 7–18, Getty Foundation), UCLA’s Digital Humanities Program (Beyond the Digitized Library, July 28–August 6, Getty Foundation), and Middlebury College (Summer Institute on Digital Mapping and Art History, August 3–15, Kress Foundation). The firm groundwork laid by these programs as well as the enthusiastic response by participants suggest that the field of art history is in an ever-stronger position to take advantage of the opportunities provided by new technologies and to lead the digital humanities in key areas.

Each program had its own personality and addressed different needs in the field. At Harvard, attendees found themselves working on digital archival collections and exploring different approaches to using this kind of information, such as curating, annotating, and visualizing digital collections. The institute at George Mason provided self-identified newcomers to digital scholarship with broad exposure to digital environments and specific tools, including the use of social media, data mining, and visualization techniques. UCLA organizers focused on methodological and theoretical issues at stake in the digital humanities and encouraged participants to critically address their approaches. A one-day conference on publishing and the digital environment at UCLA allowed participants and audience members a chance to reflect on participant’s projects and the future of digital scholarship. For the Kress mapping institute, fellows were asked to come prepared with specific spatial questions related to their area of research and to include a database of spatial information. In the short period of the workshop, they were exposed to the methods of digital mapping through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and, on the last day, presented extraordinary maps of their own that pushed their research questions forward. Collectively, the summer institutes show the diversity of approaches as well as the depth of interest in digital scholarship, something unusual for any humanities field in recent years.

Digital or computational art history has been gaining ground since the advent of innovative projects like the Digital Roman Forum and Mapping Gothic France, among others. Work in our discipline has been further sustained by new publishing venues for digital work. These include not only new authoring and publishing platforms such as HyperCities and Scalar, but also more substantial interventions in long-standing print periodicals, such as the Journal of Society of Architectural Historians online edition, which allows authors to include a variety of digital formats with their texts. Indeed, CAA’s adoption of an electronic format for its print journals earlier this year through its partnership with Taylor & Francis continues the important role of facilitating new sorts of scholarly publishing.

More important, however, are the new forms of analysis and data sharing that digital art history makes possible or, alternatively, the ways in which digital methods push known scholarly questions in innovative and exciting directions. Addressing the “stuff” of art history from a computational standpoint may initially seem counter-intuitive, particularly given the field’s propensity for qualitative analysis and the stress placed on our ability to look closely. However, reflection upon the nature of the information we might encounter, particularly in the era of “big data,” suggests how rapidly the field might benefit from alternatives to traditional research methods. Depending on the nature of the art-historical problem, such analysis may involve the identification of trends in bodies of literature: the use of certain key terms for example, and their frequency. It may enable us to identify economic, social, or stylistic relationships between key entities through network analysis. It may utilize tools to analyze more minutely geographic settings and the relationships between buildings and human actors, or to study the physical evolution of sites over time. Each of the summer institutes took a different approach to these possibilities, with some offering a wide view while others provided a more focused set of inquiries. Tweets from the UCLA colloquium and the individual workshops have been gathered at #doingdah14.

While the summer institutes show the energy around the digital humanities in art history, CAA has also been continuing its strong investment in responding to member interest in this area. For example, in addition to hosting its third annual THAT (The Humanities And Technology) Camp, CAA will offer a number of digital humanities workshops at the upcoming CAA Annual Conference in February in order to meet the needs of both artists and art historians. These include: Building Scholarly Digital Archives and Exhibits with Omeka; Scalar; and Making Sense of Digital Images, which explores how to describe and develop optimal reproductions, both for current projects and for preservation.

Furthermore, CAA is now examining the question of tenure and promotion based on projects using digital tools. In our reading of the field, the digital future of art-historical scholarship rests in part, and for the near future, on its acceptance by those responsible for evaluating tenure and promotion applications. Since 1973, CAA has formulated and published standards and guidelines on its website after careful research and ratification by its Board of Directors, thereby offering guidance to arts institutions as they create policies and make decisions. In a 2005 addendum to CAA’s current guidelines concerning tenure, the Association recognized “that the well-documented “crisis” in scholarly publishing in the humanities is especially acute for art historians, and threatens the integrity and continuity of the discipline if colleges and universities continue to insist on books as the chief criterion for tenure and promotion.” This concern grows larger with the development of new forms of digital publishing.

Other scholarly societies have developed or are investigating guidelines, including the Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association. Professional literature also addresses the need and components for useful guidelines in The Journal of Digital Humanities, society reports, and in compendiums such as Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew Gold (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), Digital­­_Humanities, by Peter Lunenfeld, Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012). Additionally, NEH-funded workshops have addressed the need for guidelines, including an institute sponsored by NINES.[1] These initial efforts to promulgate advancement and tenure guidelines serve as models for other humanities disciplines.

An equally crucial question facing the field is the sustainability of digital scholarship, particularly in light of the rapid development of new technologies. Rather than allowing such scholarship to “sit on the shelf,” digital work must be networked in order to survive. The question of the interoperability of the programs utilized for scholarship aside, technology platforms become outmoded and CD-ROMs, disks, and external drives will inevitably deteriorate. The field would benefit from the development of “best practices” for the creation of digital scholarship, from mechanisms of data storage and retrieval, to the development of trustworthy digital repositories, and a careful analysis of the benefit of open-source versus proprietary software for particular forms of writing and data analysis. In addition, funding institutions need to consider the need for further training, like the four summer institutes, to assess what works and what doesn’t for the long-term sustenance of new scholarly innovation.

Despite these challenges, which may, in fact be invitations for future collaborations among art historians and across disciplines, the realm of the digital offers exciting new possibilities. Perhaps most significantly, digital scholarship may demonstrate the significance of some of the skills we tend to take for granted as humanists and experts in visual analysis: namely the ability to think critically about the function and production of images and language, as well as the source of these representations. Just what assumptions may be embedded in the very way we interact with the digital realm and how might we tease that apart? Digital art history, then, permits not only a new way for us to interrogate our data and our own assumptions, but for the very visualization of both traditional archival information as well as the digital itself to be rethought.

Anne Collins Goodyear, Co-Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, is now CAA Past President. She served as president of CAA from 2012 to 2014. Paul B. Jaskot is currently Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA), Washington, DC (2014–16). He served as CAA’s president from 2008 to 2010.

[1] We thank Anne Helmreich for sharing her thoughts on the resources developing in this arena.

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Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

Why Academics Stink at Writing

Together with wearing earth tones, driving Priuses, and having a foreign policy, the most conspicuous trait of the American professoriate may be the prose style called academese. An editorial cartoon by Tom Toles shows a bearded academic at his desk offering the following explanation of why SAT verbal scores are at an all-time low: “Incomplete implementation of strategized programmatics designated to maximize acquisition of awareness and utilization of communications skills pursuant to standardized review and assessment of languaginal development.” (Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Always Talk to Strangers

I attended a conference recently and stayed at a hotel that required me to take a shuttle to get to my events. On my first shuttle ride back to the hotel, I chatted with another hotel guest who was attending a different conference and also not staying at his conference hotel. We chatted about a variety of things before we got to that pivotal point when I was very glad I chose this particular hotel. (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

End the Conference Interview

Why is it so hard to kill off the tradition of conference interviews? For decades, search committees in many fields have been holding first-round interviews at the annual meetings of their disciplinary organizations. That means the poorest and most vulnerable members of our profession—graduate students, adjuncts, and fixed-term appointees—have to spend a minimum of $1,000 just to get a shot at the next round. No one would call that a just system, and yet, it lives on. (Read more from Vitae.)

Fight over DIA Value Resumes in Court

When Detroit’s bankruptcy trial restarts, the battle over the value of the Detroit Institute of Arts will return to center stage. The city’s largest holdout creditor, the bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., is betting its case against the city’s so-called grand bargain on the premise that the city-owned DIA is worth billions more than the Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is willing to admit. (Read more from the Detroit Free Press.)

Millennials and Museums: Oil and Water?

It’s not enough to rely on the “intrinsic awesomeness” of your collections. If I don’t know about them, they don’t exist. In fact, even if I do know about them, that’s probably not enough to get me to come. Where do my priorities lie? Well, I’m trying to save money, I like to socialize and blow off steam with my friends, we like concerts and cocktails, to see art and go dancing. So, what can you offer me? (Read more from the Tronvig Group.)

The Museum Sacrifice Measure

How much are you willing to give up to work in a museum? How much did you give up to work in a museum? I’m not talking about quality of life issues such as relocating to a new city, having to explain over and over again, at parties, what a “registrar” is, or spending the day in a windowless cubicle tucked in next to collections storage. I’m talking about cold hard cash. (Read more from the Center for the Future of Museums.)

On the False Democracy of Contemporary Art

Art claims that it expands into the sphere of social transformation and genuine democracy. Yet paradoxically, art’s ambition for direct social engagement and its self-abandonment loop back to the very territory of contemporary art, its archive machine, and its self-referential rhetoric of historicizing. Hence the question is: Are we really witnessing the anticapitalist transformation that excuses art’s self-sublation and its dissolution in newly transformed life? (Read more from e-flux Journal.)

Something Old, Something New

The National Endowment for the Humanities has a new home and a new chairman, but the agency’s work to fund digital humanities projects continues unabated. The NEH Digital Humanities Project Directors Meeting was recently hosted for the eighth time in Washington, but for the first time in the agency’s new premises in the recently renovated Constitution Center. The event brings together grant recipients of the Office of Digital Humanities, the grant-making arm of the agency. (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

Filed under: CAA News