The Digital Art History Lab at the Frick Collection: Towards a Critical ´DAH´


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Main Building, hall 14A-00

The Digital Art History Lab at the Frick Collection: Towards a Critical ´DAH´

Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Kunst, cultuur en geschiedenis


A recurrent criticism of digital art history (DAH) is that the methodologies offered by computational tools and analytical techniques have not been applied to art-historical research questions in ways that allow art historians to reconsider fundamental issues of their field and develop new research questions. Critics argue that instead of breaking new ground, DAH has stalled at the level of the DAH project, which merely translates traditional practices into a digitized format. Their concerns are not entirely unfounded: at a 2016 symposium on the state of the field of DAH, conversation focused on the sustainability of existing projects rather than how digital tools might expand the discipline. This presentation revisits the question of how DAH might impact art history productively and surveys the efforts of one American institution that is striving to bring the tools and methods of DAH to a larger audience: the Frick Art Reference Library╒s Digital Art History Lab (DAHL). The DAHL seeks not only to provide researchers with the digital tools and data necessary to explore new methodologies but also aims to stimulate collaborations between art historians and specialists from a variety of fields, from computer science to geography.

Ellen Prokop is an art historian who specializes in Spanish art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She is currently preparing two book manuscripts: an overview of the collecting and exhibition histories of BartolomÄ Murillo, El Greco, and Diego de Velçzquez and an annotated translation of Fray Juan Ricci╒s artistic treatise of ca. 1660, La pintura sabia. Her articles are published and forthcoming in The Hispanic Research Journal and The Journal of the History of Collections. She is the Associate Photoarchivist of the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, and regularly teaches at New York University and Hunter College, City University of New York.