DigitalArts: Thousands of Historical Watercolours to be Available Online in a Digital Archive. “Before photographs existed, let alone massive online stock libraries designers have come to rely on, there were watercolour paintings, these brilliant historical artforms documented significant moments in history, such as immigration to new countries, and how society functioned. Now watercolours will be moving beyond the walls of museums and art galleries in a digital format. … The watercolours will be available for your use simply through an online catalogue, to be made available by March next year. Dubbed the Watercolour World, you’ll be able to choose from thousands of digitised documentary watercolours dating before 1900…”
Denverite: Denver just put most of its gorgeous Clyfford Still collection online for free. “After he died in 1980, much of Clyfford Still’s artwork was sealed away from scholars and the public. The painter had wanted his enormous archive to remain complete, so he had ordered that it only be given to an American city that would create a permanent home for his work. Denver, of course, became that place when it opened the Clyfford Still Museum in 2011. And now it’s gone a step further: The museum has launched an expansive digital archive with high-resolution images of about 70 percent of the city’s Still collection.”
My Statesman (Texas): Archaeologists work to gather data from fading rock art sites. “Everywhere, limestone is gradually flaking away, taking with it stories of the ancient people who lived here. That’s why the Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center in Comstock has launched a four-year effort, dubbed the Alexandria Project, to gather baseline data about the artwork before it disappears. Researchers are working with private land owners to gain access to sites to snap detailed photos, record GPS coordinates and gather information for three-dimensional models that can be studied by scholars long after the artwork has deteriorated. They are creating an online library of rock art.”
Hyperallergic: New Open-Source Platform Maps the Provenances of Artworks. “Launched by Boston University professor Jodi Cranston, Mapping Paintings is an open-source, searchable platform for compiling provenance data for individual artworks (not just paintings, despite its name), from owners to past locations to details of sales or transactions. It allows you to select artworks of interest and visualize their records across time and space, as plotted on a map.”
Google Blog: The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time. “Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings: ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.’ Due to its pioneering attention to detail and realistic portrayal of people, the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ is renowned as one of the most influential paintings ever made and a defining artwork that represents the start of the Northern Renaissance…. Now, the freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts & Culture. Thanks to a partnership with the online image library of Flemish art heritage Lukas – Art in Flanders and the Cathedral of Saint-Bavo, we’ve digitized this masterpiece for future generations to explore in unprecedented detail.”
Sweden’s Nationalmuseum has released 3000 images to Wikimedia Commons. “While the Nationalmuseum building is under renovation, only a small part of the collections is accessible to the public. To provide more opportunity for people to enjoy its artworks, the museum embarked last year on a joint project with Wikimedia Sweden. As a result, high-resolution images of some 3,000 paintings from the collections are now available for download on Wikimedia Commons as public domain. This means they are part of our shared cultural heritage and can be freely used for any purpose. The images are also now zoomable, but not currently downloadable, in Nationalmuseum’s online database.”
Google has developed a new “art camera” for EXTREME close-ups of artwork. “The Art Camera is a robotic camera, custom-built to create gigapixel images faster and more easily. A robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that—much like a bat—uses high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork. Once each detail is captured, our software takes the thousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.” Google has released the first group of a thousand art camera images. You can zoom right down to the brushwork and the cracks in the paint.