• The History of Art is Linked but the Data Is Not: Georgia O’Keeffe, Provenance and Scholarship - from panel ‘Linked Art: Networking Digital Collections and Scholarship’

    Lynn Rother
    Kevin Page (see profile)
    Art, Computer art, History, Linked data, Metadata
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Digital art history, Linked open data
    Permanent URL:
    The history of artworks is linked. They were produced by the same artists, traded by the same dealers, collected by the same people, transferred, looted or confiscated by the same entities while eventually finding their permanent home in the same museums—or not. To date, these links across museum collections are only visible to the few experts studying the artworks’ history of ownership. But the field of provenance research has matured enough to enable structuring and aggregating provenance records as Linked Data. Though shaped by complex and diverse contexts, an artwork’s provenance record can be broken down into empirical data consisting of objects, protagonists, dates, locations and types of transactions. To this day, however, the majority of museums record the valuable information harvested through time-consuming and resource-intensive provenance research within their collection management systems without machine-readable structure, hindering the analysis and linking of the data across institutions. New tools offer the potential to standardize, aggregate, and consider the museum accumulated provenance data broadly to reveal new stories about the global circulation and displacement of artworks and nuance the existing histories of collecting and art market practices. As museum objects and their movements through time and space tell stories beyond object-based art historical research and collection cataloguing, this paper will elaborate on the potential of Linked Art for provenance research and for scholarship in related fields. MoMA’s acquisition and deaccession of O’Keeffe’s Kachinas—representations of Pueblo and Hopi spirits used in ceremonies and rituals and therefore considered culturally sensitive objects in museum collections—will show how structured provenance data of museums using Linked Art can benefit related research fields such as the histories of collecting and art market practices but also museum, Native American, and Indigenous studies.
    Lynn Rother is the Lichtenberg-Professor for Provenance Studies at Leuphana Universität, Lüneburg, Germany, and a member of the Linked Art Editorial Board. Participation of Linked Art Editorial Board members in the DH2020 conference is supported by the project 'Linked Art II: Developing Community, Practice, and Scholarship', funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (award AH/T013117/1 ) and led by Kevin Page, University of Oxford.
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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