Project Profile: Henri Michaux Catalogue Raisonné

essay on henri michaux CR

Artist: Henri Michaux (1899 – 1994)
Scope: Comprehensive
Years Covered: 1925 -1984
Database: custom-designed software
Print or Digital: digital
Schedule: Research has been on going since 2001. A publication has not yet been set.
Key Staff: Micheline Phankim, Rainer M. Mason, Franck Leibovici

CRSA:  This project will be the first catalogue raisonné on Henri Michaux. What are some of the project’s primary resources?
HMCR: We used the studio collection as a basis, then, the photos archives of the previous galleries, like the Point Cardinal Gallery, in Paris.

CRSA:  What specific challenges do you face in researching Michaux?
HMCR: Michaux did not provide any dates, and he did not give titles to his paintings and drawings. So finding an accurate date is here a strong issue.  We can not rely on dates published in museum catalogues, because depending on the publication, the same painting may get different dates, and because these dates were given by either the art dealer or by a collector not paying much attention to this issue. Also, generic categories are not so much of a help: applying the term “Indian ink” to more than 500 works does not allow us to discriminate and go through the works. Nor the dimensions, as the size of the paper is usually standard. This is why we needed to create a software which would take into account the properties of Michaux works. For instance, tools as queries by similarities, or tagging or family resemblances will be of a great help for future investigations. Additionally, most of the works between 1925 and the 50’s are largely un-documented. We have lists of galleries or museums exhibitions, which happened during that time, but with with very few images or descriptions of the works which were exhibited.

CRSA:  How do you think this research will help change our understanding of Michaux’s work?
HMCR: The catalogue raisonné allows us to put works next to each other and set up series and family resemblances, which is very helpful to date works which have been un-dated for years.

CRSA:  Are there plans for additional content, such as essays or appendices?
HMCR: Yes, an essay (just released) takes care of the epistemological and methodological issues of the Michaux catalogue raisonné. It has been published first in France as an autonomous book, but will be linked as an ebook to the catalogue raisonné itself: Franck Leibovici, Henri Michaux: Voir (une enquête), Paris : 2014, PUPS. ISBN : 978-2-84050-930-1

CRSA:  Once the digital publication is finalized, will you consider adapting a print version?
HMCR: The digital edition will be the main one. It is today the most relevant medium to conduct a research. A print version would be then a selection among the works, but it would not make sense to turn it into a fac simile of the the electronic edition. We would lose all the technical advantages of digital organisations (facets, tags, and so on).

For more information, please visit: www.henrimichaux.org
Or contact: archivesmichaux@gmail.com

Project Profile: Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné of Drawings

Jasper Johns. Two Flags, 1969. Graphite pencil and collage on paper. 22 1/4 x 30 3/4 in. The Menil Collection, Houston. © Jasper Johns / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph: Jamie M. Stukenberg / Professional Graphics Inc., Rockford, Illinois.

 

Artist:  Jasper Johns (b. 1930)
Planned Title:  The Catalogue Raisonné of the Drawings of Jasper Johns
Years Covered:  1954-2014
Print or Digital:  Print
Publisher: To be announced
Database:  FileMaker
Schedule:  2011–2016; Expected publication date Fall 2016
Supported by:  The Menil Collection, Houston, in cooperation with the artist
Key Staff: Allegra Pesenti (Chief Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute), Bernice Rose (Advisor), Eileen Costello (Editor and Project Director); Kate Ganz (Senior Editor); Caroline Gabrielli (Senior Project Associate); Christian Wurst (Exhibitions Researcher); Kim Costello (Literature Researcher)

CRSA:  What are some of the Johns Drawings Catalogue Raisonné’s primary resources?
JJDCR:  At the start of our project, the artist’s studio provided us with Mr. Johns’s complete drawings inventory, which we migrated into our specially designed database. This laid the foundation for our research in addition to the numerous comprehensive retrospective exhibitions of Mr. Johns’s work that have taken place over the past several decades. We were also very fortunate to have access to invaluable primary resources located in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; The National Gallery, D.C; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Menil Foundation, and a number of commercial galleries. The Archives of American Art continues to be a rich resource, especially The Leo Castelli Gallery records, which became available the year we commenced our research. Our project has also benefited from the artist’s cooperation and his studio’s assistance, especially in regard to photography. Further, as a Menil Foundation project, we benefit from their reputation for publishing scholarly exhibition catalogues as well as the highly regarded René Magritte and Max Ernst catalogues raisonné.

CRSA:  This project is one of two separate catalogues raisonnés currently being prepared on the artist.  Is there any project overlap or opportunities to collaborate?
JJDCR:
 Roberta Bernstein, under the aegis of the Wildenstein Institute, had begun work on a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings and sculptures several years previous to our project. Although dealing with entirely different mediums, in a number of instances, the two projects often shared secondary (literature and exhibition) research, which proved mutually beneficial.

CRSA:  How do you hope this publication might affect the public’s understanding of Jasper Johns?
JJDCR:  The Drawings Catalogue Raisonné will present each drawing as factually and visually accurate as possible.  As the definitive publication of Mr. Johns’s drawings oeuvre, our hope is to make that aspect of the artist’s work more accessible—visually and intellectually—to a broader audience.

CRSA: What specific challenges do you face in researching Johns?
JJDCR:  The extensive amount of primary resources available to us concerning the artist and his work has expedited our research. The artist’s renown has also facilitated our project. We’ve dealt with the anticipated challenges in compiling a catalogue raisonné such as artworks with complicated provenances or exhibitions that were a little more difficult to verify because of a lack of records. However, our dedicated and persistent research staff has been able to track down many of these “unavailable” records as well as a number of “lost” drawings, which we weren’t entirely sure would ever be found.

CRSA: Are there plans for additional content beyond artwork/exhibitions/bibliography, such as essays or appendices?
JJDCR: There is discussion of including a drawing-centric chronology. However, as of this date, it is still too early to decide on additional content.

CRSA: Does this project update or expand upon a previously published catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work?
JJDCR: This will be the first catalogue raisonné of the artist’s drawings.

CRSA: Are there plans for supplements or a digital adaptation?
JJDCR: For now we are planning a printed publication only. However, we are considering adapting a digital version, but no decisions have been made about this yet.

For more information, please refer to the website jasperjohnsdrawings.menil.org or contact Caroline Gabrielli at cgabrielli@menil.org.

Project Profile: The Daumier-Register

Selfportrait by Honoré Daumier, 19th century, drypoint. Property of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Gift of E. Weyhe 1930.534

Selfportrait by Honoré Daumier, 19th century, drypoint. Property of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Gift of E. Weyhe 1930.534

 

CRSA recently sat down with Dieter and Lilian Noack to talk about their monumental 14 year effort, the Daumier-Register, an ongoing digital catalogue of the works of Honoré Daumier.  The site launched in 2001, giving it the distinction of being one of the first and longest running digital catalogues of one artist’s work in the field.  Over the course of our interview, we learned many ways their project relates to and departs from the traditional (printed) catalogue raisonné format:

Artist:  Honoré Daumier (1808 – 1879)
Organized by / Staff:  Dieter and Lilian Noack
Publication format: Digital, accessible via http://www.daumier-register.org and http://www.daumier.org
Scope: 4000 lithographs, 1000 wood engravings, 550 oil paintings and 100 sculptures
Forthcoming content: 1,500 drawings
Database:  Microsoft Access
Prior publications:  The Daumier-Register builds upon a fairly long list of catalogues on the artist, dating back to 1888, including those by:

Arsène Alexandre (Paris, H. Laurens, 1888)
Erich Klossowski (München, R. Piper 1908 and München, R. Piper, 1923)
Eduard Fuchs (München, A. Langen, 1930)
Jean Adhémar’s (New York, Macmillan, 1954)
K.E. Maison (v. 1 London, Thames and Hudson, 1967-68,v.2 London Thames and Hudson New York, NY Graphic Society 1968)
Gabriele Mandel, Luigi Barzini and Pierre Georgel (Milano, Rizzoli 1971, and Paris, Flammarion 1972)

Primary resources: A primary resource for the Daumier-Register is the 1968 CR by K.E. Maison, but they have built on this by contacting museums and archives, and reviewing exhibition and auction catalogues from the 1860 onward with the help of the Watson Library and Frick Library.
Updates: While their database is updated regularly as research develops, the site undergoes a major update once or twice per year.  Minor changes occur on an ongoing basis.
Digital-only benefits:  The site includes three language options (English, French, and German), multimedia content, and more than 700 “themes” related to the artist and his practice so that scholars can identify, for example, all works that include or relate to “lawyers” or “bookdealers,” or combine up to four themes in a search.

Project Profile: The Roy Lichtenstein Catalogue Raisonné

"Roy on Ladder, 1991" - Photograph © Laurie Lambrecht,1991

“Roy on Ladder, 1991” – Photograph © Laurie Lambrecht,1991

Artist:  Roy Lichtenstein (1923 – 1997)
Planned Title: Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné
Scope: The catalogue will illustrate every confirmed work and publish all known paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, commissions and other artwork by Roy Lichtenstein. The artist produced approximately 5,000 works during his lifetime (not counting the full edition runs of prints or multiples).
Years Covered:  The earliest works date from c. 1940 and the latest, 1997, plus a limited number of posthumous sculpture casts and prints.
Print or Digital:  We are planning to publish first an online catalogue version. When persuasively complete, we expect to issue a summary of our research in book form, distributed by a major University Press.
Database:  The Museum System (TMS) until 2011; panOpticon since then.
Schedule:  A first digital version is planned to be online in 2017.
Publisher: To be defined
Organized by:  The catalogue is organized and managed by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Jack Cowart (Executive Director), Andrea C. Theil (Project Manager).

CRSA:  What are some of the Roy Lichtenstein Catalogue Raisonné’s primary resources?
RLCR:  Since its beginning in 1999, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation has been systematically sorting through the extensive artist studio records. Lichtenstein and his studio staff photographed most of his artworks in the studio, and they accumulated contemporary documentation about his art, commissions, editions, and exhibitions. The material includes correspondence, exhibition files, catalogues, source books, studio and installation photographs as well as films, video, audio tapes and other materials related to the creation and production of Lichtenstein’s art. Of major importance are also the artwork and documentation held by the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. When it comes to technical questions we are continuously benefiting from the experience of Lichtenstein’s longtime studio assistants.

Provenance research usually starts with looking through the comprehensive Leo Castelli Gallery records at the Archives of American Art which cover the long relationship between the artist and his lifetime gallerist. We also refer to the oral histories conducted over the past decade by Avis Berman on behalf of the Foundation. She interviewed (and still interviews) family members, friends, and studio staff as well as people who were involved directly or indirectly in Lichtenstein’s creative life. Our research is enriched by the detailed memories and deep knowledge of Lichtenstein’s art offered by his widow Dorothy Lichtenstein.

CRSA:  What specific challenges do you face in preparing the RL Catalogue Raisonné?
RLCR:  One of our challenges is the attempt to create a complex online reference tool which covers numerous aspects of Lichtenstein’s work – sometimes it is rather difficult to establish a clear and integrated architecture. But with the help of our panOpticon database we are making great progress.

CRSA: Will the existing RL Catalogue Raisonné of Prints be included in your online CR version?
RLCR:  Yes, it will. Lichtenstein was a prolific print maker, and we are happy to say that the existing catalogue raisonné of his prints (published by Hudson Hills press in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) has absolved us of having to redo that part of his work. But we will reorganize the records, making minor corrections as we have been able to find new info.

For more information, please refer to the Lichtenstein Foundation’s website www.lichtensteinfoundation.org, or contact atheil@lichtensteinfoundation.org.

Project Profile: The Donald Judd Catalogue Raisonné

Donald Judd in his studio © Judd Foundation

Artist:  Donald Judd (1928-1994)
Scope:  Sculptures, paintings, and woodblocks
Years Covered:  1940s to 1994
Print or Digital:  Undecided
Database:  FileMaker Pro
Schedule:  The project was begun in earnest in 2009, although research that benefits the catalogue raisonné was begun several years earlier.  A publication date has not yet been set.
Supported by:  Judd Foundation and the support of anonymous donors

CRSA:  What are some of the Donald Judd Catalogue Raisonné’s primary resources?
DJCR:  We used the lifetime catalogue raisonné (Del Balso, Smith, and Smith 1975) as a jumping off point.  However, this catalogue only includes work completed between August 1960 and mid-1974, leaving several decades at the beginning and end of his career completely uncatalogued.  Judd worked with a wide range of fabricators, so our primary sources are the fabricator records and a running record that Judd’s studio assistants kept beginning in 1968.  We’re lucky to have a number of the studio assistants involved with the project and their memories and stories add so much depth and context to our daily research.

CRSA:  What is something you have come across in your research that changed your understanding of the way Donald Judd worked?
DJCR:  This past June we opened Judd’s Soho studio to the public after three years of active restoration.  The catalogue raisonné offices are located in the basement of the building, which affords us special insight into how Judd’s living and working spaces continue to resonate with the art, design, and architecture communities.  It has brought Judd’s insistence that “art should be made as one lives” into high relief and affects how we interact with the research we are collecting. One starts to really understand the importance of permanently installed spaces when working in one.

CRSA: What specific challenges do you face in researching Donald Judd?
DJCR:  Each catalogue raisonné project has a different set of challenges even though they may look similar on the surface.  It’s been complicated to parse the varying records among the large number of fabricators he used.  The numbering system became a bit confused at a certain point with duplicate numbers, unfinished works, rejected works, and restored works.  It can also be extremely difficult to identify exactly which works were exhibited as Judd’s works are nearly all untitled and black-and-white installation photographs may only tell you what type of work was shown (i.e. a large “stack”) not the exact work that was shown (i.e. the large stack in copper and pink Plexiglas from 1983).

For more information, please refer to Judd Foundation’s website juddfoundation.org
or contact Katy Rogers at krogers@juddfoundation.org.