IFAR Awarded NEH Grant for Digital Enhancements to the Catalogue Raisonné Database

July 2015

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a one-year planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the expansion of its online Catalogue Raisonné Database.  Launched on IFAR's website in 2008 and freely accessible to all, the Database is the only online resource devoted to catalogues raisonnés in all media. It is an interactive bibliographic resource containing information on both published and in-preparation catalogues raisonnés. Expanded and updated on an on-going basis, the Database currently contains information on more than 3,200 published catalogues, 300 catalogues in preparation, and more than 2,400 artists. 

Catalogues raisonnés -- scholarly documentations of an artist's entire body of work, or work in a particular medium -- are essential research tools for art historical scholarship and the marketplace. As such, IFAR's Database is used by a broad spectrum of the professional art community, academia, collectors, and the general public. Numerous universities, libraries, museums, and organizations provide direct links from their websites to IFAR's Database.

The one year NEH grant provides partial support to enable IFAR to expand the functionality of this important resource and transform it into a more robust tool by taking advantage of digital resources unavailable when the site was launched in 2008. IFAR’s redesigned Database will incorporate new links to outside bibliographic sites, including WorldCat, so that users can locate the closest library housing a particular catalogue raisonné; Hathi-Trust, Google Books, and Internet Archive, so that users will be able to connect to and read the digitized full or partial text of catalogues raisonnés that are now in the public domain. 

A critical component of the planning grant will allow IFAR to explore the feasibility of adding an interactive ontology of artists to the Catalogue Raisonné Database. The proposed ontology will add context and clarify complex connections between artists in our Database. It will allow users to explore an artist's relationships with other artists, graphically representing the spread of ideas, styles, and cultural trends within the history of art. Clicking on an artist's name ini the ontology will reveal links to related artists and allow users to see whether catalogues raisonnés for the related artists exist or are in preparation and are listed in the Database. IFAR's grant will result in a "mini-prototype" for the ontology.

The NEH planning grant offers much-needed seed money for this project, but it provides only partial support. IFAR is actively seeking additional funding for this important and innovative project.