The Artist Libraries Project in the Labex Les passés dans le présent
The creation of the Artist Libraries Project was sparked by the observation that artist libraries are still not well known, yet many art historians are interested in this archive for the value it adds to understanding the person behind the artist and his or her creative process. The problem is that these libraries are rarely physically preserved. To remedy this dispersion, we built an online database and a website www.lesbibliothequesdartistes.org that house this valuable source in the form of lists of books and their electronic versions. First data on Monet’s library have been made available, and several additional artist libraries from the 19th and 20th centuries are on the way for 2019. By gathering all these bibliographical data in a central database, it’s possible to explore one library and to compare several.
This article explains how we built the database and the website and how the implementation of those IT tools has raised questions about the use of this resource as an archive on the one hand, as well as its value for art history on the other.