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Artl@s - A Short Video Presentation

Established in 2009, Artl@s is a project of a Spatial (Digital) history of art. Based at École normale supérieure in Paris, the team has built a Post-GIS database of exhibition catalogues from the 18th century to the present on a global scale (BasArt), from Africa and Latin America to Europe, to North America, to Asia, and to the Middle East and Australia.

Exhibition catalogues are a major primary source for the discipline of art history. Since the 17th century (1673, Paris, Salon de l’Académie), they have provided information about artists and their artworks. They are precious to biographers since they can inform on artists’ studies, living addresses, exhibitions, and names of collectors. They can be used to retrace artists’ career paths and to write catalogues raisonnés. They might also provide prices, along with information on the venues where the works were sold. They help reconstitute the peregrinations of works of art. Exhibition catalogues are a critical source for art historians and for many actors of the art world. 

BasArt, which relies on a Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) model, already contains thousands of exhibitions from Europe, the USA, Latin America and the Middle East, and is steadily growing (see current state of its content at We are now launching a systematic collection of Biennials catalogues worldwide since the 1890s, since biennials are excellent case-studies for global history.

Director: Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, Associate Professor at the Ecole normale supérieure, HDR, Paris, France.

Vice Director: Catherine Dossin, Associate Professor at Purdue University, USA.

Artlas relies on:

  • a spatial, social, and global approach to art history 
  • the development of contributive digital resources 
  • the help and financial support of our partner institutions - ENS, Labex TransferS, ANR, and Purdue University
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