Suggested Reading: the Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings

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Artist: Sam Francis (1923-1994)
Title:  Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946-1994
Key Contributors:  Edited by Debra Burchett-Lere with featured essay by William C. Agee
Publisher:  University of California Press
Published Date:  2011
 0520264304  978-0520264304 0
Organized by: 
Sam Francis Foundation, Pasadena, CA
Works covered:  1,850-plus paintings on canvas and panel

CRSA: The Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné is both a print publication for essays and texts, and a digital publication on DVD for artwork entries.  What was behind the decision to publish in this dual format?

SFCR: Working with the University of California Press at Berkeley provided an ideal atmosphere of collaboration for us to explore ideas to develop this educational project. As this was UC Press’s first artist’s catalogue raisonné they were open to exploring alternative ways of presenting information. We felt it would be important to not only offer a richly illustrated “coffee table” book with art historical texts, but to provide additional data about the artist, his work, and his life that could function as a browsable resource. The boxed set was developed to include the book and two DVDs that can be accessed on any computer (great for students and researchers without the need for the internet) with capability to search by topics, artworks, dates, exhibitions, bibliography, etc.  The DVD data can be transferred directly to the reader’s computer database so the contents be used as a research source on a daily basis.

The packaged set offers a traditional book with vibrant color images accompanying a comprehensive scholarly text by William C. Agee, as well as the most detailed, anecdote-packed biography of Sam Francis ever published. The two DVDs offer options for the reader to discover Francis’s paintings more fully through thousands of supplementary documentary photographs, essays about Francis’s paint methods and studios, examples of his writings, exhibition history, detailed bibliography, and two videos of rare film footage showing Francis at work.

With the DVDs capability of providing more comprehensive data, we were able to allow ample space for the illustrations. The reader can enlarge many of the painting images and “zoom-in” for closer study. One of the main reasons we opted for using the DVDs was the fact that we would not be as limited to text and illustration constraints with a printed book format. Therefore we were able to include additional notes and detail photographs such as signatures and inscriptions.

CRSA: How how much time was dedicated to research in advance of the publication?

SFCR: Francis did not always photograph or identify paintings over the years as he created them — so the archival records have not been the only resource for information gathering. A limited registration procedure was initiated by his studio assistants in the early 1970s that resulted in a compilation of “doc” cards that documented a large percentage of his artworks that continues to be updated and catalogued to date. After his death in 1994, records were consolidated from the artist’s studios around the world (Francis had studios in Paris, New York, Santa Monica, Palo Alto, Tokyo, etc.), as well as other resources to document his oeuvre. We began to focus our efforts in consideration of creating a catalogue of the canvas and panel paintings, and some works have more data than others due to their public exhibition history, auction records, etc. The resulting publication with UCPress was conceived as a “living catalogue raisonné,” subject to change and expansion as new information continues to come to light. We notated that we are planning to publish an addendum in the future — probably online.

CRSA: What has been the project’s most valuable research resource?

SFCR: The artist’s artworks, his personal and business archives, as well as sources listed below continue to be the primary resources for our information.

This sources include:
Polaroids taken by studio assistants of works over the years in the studio
Correspondence and personal letters
Business & sales records
Black and white negative strips of artworks, studio shots, exhibitions
Old slides, transparencies, and black and white photographs of artworks, studio shots, exhibitions, etc.
Archives and business records of the galleries, curators and museums
Conservation records
Lists and notes by the artist
Exhibition checklists, catalogues, newspaper articles, auction records, other documentation
Interviews, development of an oral history archive, as well as correspondence with individuals who worked with him (especially studio assistants) and knew him, such as: friends, family, colleagues, collectors of his work, exhibitors of his work, dealers, galleries, curators, etc.
Identification cards assigned to a large percentage of the artworks since the early 1970s

In addition we gathered information housed at the Getty Research Institute (including the Sam Francis Papers in the special collections), Los Angeles County Museum of Art library, the Morgan Library, UCLA library, Archives of American Art, among many other sources.

CRSA: Is research ongoing?  Will other areas of Sam Francis’ practice eventually be published as a CR?

SFCR:  Since 1995 we have been archiving unique works on paper as well as monotypes and prints. Research continues as we plan to begin publishing an online document for the “works on paper.” As the Sam Francis Foundation does not authenticate or render opinions on artworks the information we provide is for educational purposes. We anticipate launching “works on paper” by June 2015 — starting with Francis’s earliest period beginning in 1945. We plan to continue publishing different periods of his career, including updated data about prints (lithographs, etchings, screen prints) as well as ceramics and sculpture.

CRSA: How does the project intend to address updates to information in this CR?

SFCR:  As mentioned, we aim to provide online updates to the UCPress catalogue and are compiling results of our ongoing research and inputting this into one of the best systems designed for catalogue raisonné research –the wonderful panOpticon database!  This software platform makes research so thorough and provides many links and ways to check data. panOpticon has designed this produce to allow for a seamless transfer of data to the web.

The following video offers a remarkable preview of the Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné.  For additional information, visit the Sam Francis Foundation at http://www.samfrancisfoundation.com/.

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Suggested Reading: N. C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings

Artist: N. C. (Newell Convers)  Wyeth  (1882-1945)
Title:  N. C. Wyeth / Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings  (two volumes)
Key Contributors:  by Christine B. Podmaniczky; with essay by Joyce Hill Stoner
Publisher:  Wyeth Foundation for American Art, Brandywine River Museum of Art in conjunction with Scala Publishers, Ltd.
Published Date:  2008
ISBN: 978-1-85759-478-2
Organized by/Supported by:
Organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art; supported by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art
Works covered:   1,928 paintings
Years covered:  Oct. 1902 – Oct. 1945

CRSA: How is the N. C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings organized?
Christine Podmaniczky: The catalogue is divided into  sections—Illustration, Murals and Architectural Decoration, Commercial Work, Landscapes, Still Life, Portraiture and Private Paintings and Other Work. Within these distinctions, the paintings are presented chronologically. The actual pages are three columns wide, and painting reproductions span one or two columns or take a complete page.
The catalogue opens with an extensive historical essay and an essay on Wyeth’s working methods from the viewpoint of a conservator.  Back matter includes a bibliography, time line, and exhibition history.

CRSA: How how much time was dedicated to research?
CP: Research and organization for the printed version were completed over a period of 18 years.  Beginning in 1990, the project was conducted by a half-time staff member of the Brandywine River Museum of Art; after 1999, the project included a full time staff member and a part time assistant. Since the publication of the hardcover version in the 2008, the BRMA has supported regular updates to the on-line version.

CRSA: Looking back, what was the project’s most valuable resource?
CP: To our knowledge, N. C. Wyeth did not keep daybooks or other records of his work. Therefore, his correspondence turned out to be the most crucial resource for the project. N. C. Wyeth was an avid letter writer, and his letters to his family (preserved by the family) were valuable for descriptions of the paintings on which he worked and for accounts of the original disposition of paintings.  Also valuable in establishing provenance were collections of secondary correspondence, such as letters from owners written to the Wyeth family after N. C. Wyeth’s death and letters written to the Brandywine River Museum from 1970 on.

CRSA: Are there other categories of Wyeth’s work not covered in this CR?
CP: There are entries for approximately 800 drawings in the on-line version of the N. C. Wyeth catalogue raisonné.  No further volumes are being considered.

CRSA: How does the online N. C. Wyeth Catalogue Raisonné differ from the print edition?
CP:
 The on-line version of the catalogue raisonné can accommodate far more information than the printed edition, and on-line entries are usually more detailed than those in the printed edition.  For example, additional images can be attached to the on-line entries, making it possible to illustrate both an original and altered appearance, a problem in conservation or a view of an installation that is no longer current. On-line entries might also contain relevant quotations from letters, source material, or other archival matter.

CRSA: Is your research ongoing?
CP: N. C. Wyeth’s work is a particular focus of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, and ongoing research for various projects inevitably reveals new material related to the artist’s career.  When relevant, such information is incorporated into the on-line catalogue raisonné.  In the past the museum has supported a review committee to consider additions to the catalogue; that process is suspended at this time while the submission forms and procedures are evaluated.

For more information, please visit the N. C. Wyeth catalogue raisonné website www.ncwyeth.org. Christine Podmaniczky can be reached at cpodmaniczky@brandywine.org or 610-388-8354.

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Volume 2, cover

CR Page
Sample page from print edition

NCWyeth CR Webpage
Sample page from digital edition (click to continue to http://www.ncwyeth.org/)

Suggested Reading: Robert Motherwell Painting and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941 – 1991

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After more than ten years of research and preparation, Robert Motherwell Painting and Collages: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941 – 1991 was released by the Dedalus Foundation in fall 2012, published by Yale University Press, and printed in Verona by Trifolio.

In the process of publishing this extensive record of Robert Motherwell’s life and work, the Dedalus Foundation chose to film the task of printing this three-volume publication while the book’s authors oversaw the process in Verona, Italy, in May and June 2012.  As a result, we have an in-depth picture into the process of printing a seminal art publication.  View the video online:

Video realized by Elettra Bertucco & VRVideo http://www.vrvideo.net
Music: W.A. Mozart, Divertimento in D Major, K. 334: VI. Rondo. Allegro performed by Sandor Frigyes & Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra