Benezit: Letter from the Editor, 2013
Two years after the launch of the online version of the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, I am pleased to report much progress. Originally a French publication with excellent coverage of Western European artists, its representation of English and American artists was improved with its 2006 English edition.
Going online has allowed us to have a systematic program of regular updates, each one coordinated by a consulting editor, covering, for example, photographers, Asian artists, and Canadian artists. Native American artists and improved coverage of book artists (both to reflect the creation of artist’s books by artists with existing entries, such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, Maurizio Nannucci, or Sol LeWitt, and to add entries on specialist book artists such as Tauba Auerbach or Ron King) will be featured in 2014. Our next update in March will feature new and revised biographies based on feedback from our readers, which most often consists of suggestions for new entries they would like to see in Benezit. When editing a resource on the scale of Benezit (169,000 biographies and counting), our many readers are invaluable in detecting omissions or needed improvements, so if you would like to make a suggestion, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alongside these updates, the regular online activity continues of adding auction records, bibliographical references, death dates, and linking to trusted websites of or about our artists. As more digital images of the artists become available, we are adding evidence of what the artist looked like, and, in the case of self-portraits, how they worked as well. This is in addition to our expansion of our images of artists’ signatures, a feature that is very popular with our readers.
One of the reasons I became involved as the Advisory Editor was my interest in the potential of digital scholarship. Where I work at the Frick Art Reference Library, we have digitized our holdings of Italian anonymous paintings: we have now created an experts portal where invited art historians can update our identification of the artist. More recently, we have been able to run our images and metadata through some image recognition software, allowing us to re-identify works. Further down the line, this information will feed back into Benezit.
I look forward in the coming months to continuing our development of Benezit online.
Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian
Frick Art Reference Library
December 15, 2013