Homepage of Akademie Schloss Solitude showing a grid of text for events and news articles, with images.

Akademie Schloss Solitude

Reviewed by:
Carlos Alberto Della Paschoa, Librarian, Vice President of REDARTE/RJ
Biblioteca Nélida Piñon, Instituto Cervantes Rio de Janeiro

Akademie Schloss Solitude is a public-law foundation that promotes artists and scientists through an international, transdisciplinary residency program. The Akademie Schloss Solitude website provides access to publications and residency projects.

Online publications that can be freely accessed via web browser include Solitude Journal, containing a selection of thematic essays and articles. Untranslatable Terms of Cultural Practices – A Shared Vocabulary, examines terms that do not translate into other languages; the approach conveys new values and perspectives.

The Web Residencies program promotes web-based experimentations. Several times artists are invited to respond to a topic put forth by a curator. Following the residency, the process and online work is shared via the Digital Solitude website and newsletter.

Solitude Blog, highlights artistic works and scientific research, as well as interviews and texts by former fellows, digital residents, and curators. Studio Visits invites readers into artist studios through written interviews. For those who wish to be informed about its activities, the Solitude newsletter covers current events, fellows, and ongoing residency calls.

Two image tiles. Above left reads: Solitude Journal 3 - Mutations ; Above right reads: Solitude Journal 2 - On the Occult and the Supernatural.

Schlosspost, the old website, is maintained as an open archive. Schlosspost features more than 1,800 contributions, including journal issues, videos or lectures and performances, and interviews posted from 2015 to 2020. In contrast to the current site, it is easy to navigate. The information is clear and well-organized.

While Akademie Schloss Solitude provides access to an impressive array of projects and publications, the navigation can be confusing. The page is very long, one has to scroll the vertical bar five times to see all the information. There are too many colors, fonts in different sizes and styles. The distribution of spaces is not homogeneous. There is a lack of cohesion between links and this prevents fluid navigation between topics and groupings. Some entries lack metadata and there are broken links. Although the site is bilingual German-English, there is plenty of content only available in one language. The introductory texts are somewhat superficial, which makes it difficult to understand the breadth and scope of the site. Only after navigating through the full website, and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), can one realize the importance of the residency program and the quality of information available on the Akademie Schloss Solitude site. With some improvements in the visual and aesthetic organization of the page and the restructuring of its contents and metadata, it is possible to increase the quality, effectiveness, access and usability by users.

On the whole, the art and residents’ project on Akademie Schloss Solitude are a relevant and important resource not only for those who intend to submit an Artist-in-Residence project, but also for artists, researchers, historians, critics and information professionals.

Materia: Journal of Technical Art History

Reviewed by:
Julia L. Bourbois
Pomona Public Library
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17613/vf8y-f039

Launched in the spring of 2021, Materia: Journal of Technical Art History is a biannual, born-digital, open-access, peer-reviewed journal for the technical study of art objects.. Materia is situated at the convergence of conservation science, art history, and related fields, and is co-edited by an international group of conservators and art historians. The journal aims to cater to a broad and international audience, including conservation specialists, museum professionals, art historians, students, and researchers engaged in the interdisciplinary field of material culture. Additionally, the resource is intended to act as a scholarly forum that bridges diverse fields often siloed by paywall barriers. Readers can access issues of Materia directly from their website (materiajournal.com) or by signing up to the mailing list to receive the latest information on calls for abstracts, issues releases, and news.

Materia foregrounds access both in terms of content and authorship. For example, conservation articles examine the treatment and analysis of material culture objects without being overladen with technical jargon. Additionally, Materia operates within a broad notion of  conservation, soliciting articles on objects in addition to traditional easel paintings. Art history articles offer fresh perspectives of both historically marginalized artists and well-known figures. The articles currently available is Issue 2 reflect this diversity with articles including “Technical Analysis and Treatment of a Siberian Reindeer-Fur Overcoat,” “Manet Across Media: Looking at Lola de Valence” and “The Problem with Bitumen.” Materia also provides a platform for publishing scholarly research undertaken by students and early-career professionals in conservation and technical art history.  

Materia’s approach to article access and journal production models is also innovative. The journal differs in comparison to similar journals such as the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, a membership or institution subscription-based publication, and the Technical Bulletin published by the National Gallery, a leading resource in the study of the materials and techniques of painting conservation since 1977. Instead, as an open access digital resource, the editors of Materia are dedicated to free readership and no submission fees to increase access to research material for both readers and writers. As such, the editors of Materia effectively sidestep the myriad difficulties that currently plague print scholarly journals including costs of print publication, working with publishers, and the bundling of online journals. 

Materia is well-produced and executed effectively. The website is clearly arranged and on the whole, easily navigable. However, it should be noted that once in the web version of an issue, there is no home button to return to the landing page of the site.  Issues are available as a navigable web version with zoomable images and linked citations. The interactive images available in the web version are beneficial and enable the reader to examine the images in greater detail than possible in other formats. Full issues and individual articles are also available as PDFs, and no additional software is required to access the content of this resource. 

Images showing the front and back of a heavily-worn child’s Siberian fur coat with colorful bead work at the wrists and waist, pre-treatment.
Detailed image of the sleeve of a child’s Siberian fur coat with colorful beadwork.

Materia is a valuable resource for anyone interested in technical art history, particularly those engaged in the technical investigation and analysis of works of art, as well as art historians, curators, and graduate students in these and related fields. However, it is worth exploring by anyone interested in material culture. 

Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art

Nicole Elizabeth Cook, Program Manager for Graduate Academic Partnerships
Philadelphia Museum of Art

IIIF multi-mode viewer in ”Rubens’ Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal for Historians of Netherlandish Art Vol 11:2 (Summer 2019). This view shows, clockwise from top left, visible, x-radiograph, and false-color infrared reflectogram (“IRR”) views of the painting, which users can manipulate with their cursor.

Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art (JHNA), launched in 2009, is the open-access digital journal of the professional organization Historians of Netherlandish Art (HNA). Over the past decade, JHNA has become a reliable, streamlined, and technologically savvy resource for art historical writing related to the Low Countries in the early modern era, roughly corresponding with the geographic boundaries of modern day Holland and Belgium. The journal publishes new academic essays and republishes older articles newly translated into English.

JHNA has always had a forward-thinking focus on art historical essays that attempt to incorporate digital imaging technology in new ways. The journal was helmed by Dr. Alison M. Kettering from its formation until last year when Dr. H. Perry Chapman took on the role of Editor-in-Chief. While some articles cover more cross-disciplinary topics, the specialized content of JHNA essays is primarily oriented toward scholars focused on Dutch, Flemish, German, and Franco-Flemish art history and material culture from the Medieval era through the eighteenth century, with consistent focuses on attribution and artists’ biographical information, stylistic analysis, and examination of the cultural and social contexts of works of art. Some articles are of interest for museum curators, art conservators, and library & archive professionals whose work intersects with early modern Netherlandish materials. The journal is at its best when it takes advantage of its digital format to advance innovative image viewing modes to highlight technical and conservation-focused art historical inquiries. 

The online resource is open access and freely available online without paywall barriers, and without the need to create any accounts. The design of the website is visually appealing, and image driven, without being over-designed. Users can navigate easily between present and past issues, and straightforward to find information about the journal’s editorial board and submission guidelines. Because there are no logins involved, there is no opportunity for customized resources, although there are choices that the user can make with how to view and interact with the images illustrations that feature centrally in each essay. The journal’s digital platform allows a robust use of images far beyond what would be available in a printed format, including side-by-side image comparison, ability to zoom in and out of images, and image overlay technology.

Recently JHNA received funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Association of Research Institutes in Art History (ARIAH) to support development of enhanced image viewing and navigation tools, including a specialized side-by-side viewer and an “IIIF multi-mode viewer” that allows users to study a work of art up to a microscopic level using a range of technical images and paint samples. The journal targeted its development of these digital image resources for a special issue devoted to ”Rubens’ Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” with authors E. Melanie Gifford and Jennifer Henel (Volume 11: Issue 2, Summer 2019). Gifford’s pioneering work in using microscopic analysis of painting materials to address art historical questions makes her a natural partner for JHNA and its image-rich focus. The research work of JHNA users will benefit from the journal’s continuing experimentation with using new imaging technologies to enhance art historical enquiry.