Benezit: Letter from the Editor, 2014
This, sadly, is my last letter as Advisory Editor of Benezit. It has been an exciting project bringing out the dictionary in an online form—a long way from the blue bound French paper edition that I used as an assistant librarian at Chelsea School of Art back in 1978.
Working with Kandice Rawlings, the Associate Editor, we have established a rolling program to expand the scope of the dictionary. From improving the Anglo-American coverage of what initially was a French product, recently we have added photographers, revised our Italian Renaissance coverage and completed an update on Native North American artists under the guest editorship of Stephanie Pratt. Other plans—well advanced—include the addition of book artists and improved and extended coverage of South African artists.
All this is on top of our regular online updating of death dates, additional auction records, links to trusted websites, signatures, images of the artists from photographs to self-portraits, bibliographical updates and responses to reader's suggestions of revisions or new entries. Benezit relies on our readers for improvements; so if you would like to make a suggestion, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working at the Frick Art Reference Library has been very useful to me during my advisory editorship—not only do I have access to the resources of one of the best Western art history libraries in the world, but antiquarian items or research questions crossing my desk have prompted me to edit existing Benezit entries. For example, the library has three catalogs—from the Bonnestell Gallery, New York (1944) and the Feigl Gallery, New York (1945)—which document exhibitions of the work of Charles R. Hulbeck, the New York psychoanalyst and painter, formerly the Dadaist drummer, Richard Huelsenbeck.
In my last letter I mentioned that the Library is working on image-analysis tools, which will allow new identifications of works of art and artists. Recently we have started to explore visualizations of our photo archive and directory of archives of American art collectors: we can now start to ask questions of the data that we never imagined. Just think what we could do with Benezit’s nearly 170,000 entries and accompanying metadata.
In farewell, I would just like to say what a privilege it has been to be the first Advisory Editor and to work with such a supportive and professional Associate Editor as Kandice Rawlings. I would also like to thank all our guest editors and contributors who have helped to make Benezit such a useful biographical, an essential part of the art history infrastructure. Last and not least, I would like to thank you, the readers, for your feedback and support.
Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian
Frick Art Reference Library