Do we still need art historians?

Christie's Education London at Rockefeller CenterI look forward to traveling to New York on 18 April to present a paper at the Art Market Studies: Art History’s Salvation or Doom conference organized by Christie’s Education.

My contribution will explore the potential of new digital intermediaries such as Wikipedia and how they allow for the public shaping of art knowledge, and the extent to which they relate to traditional art expertise, including art historians, in the valorization of art. To empirically address the role of art historians in the contemporary art world, Iwill present a case study consisting of key artists from classic art history texts from the Netherlands, the US and India and compare how they are framed on Wikipedia. I examine the extent to which amateur experts impact the construction of art knowledge and whether they reconstitute the art canon that was once the exclusive domain of art historians. In other words, are amateur experts causing the demise of the art historical profession, or as I argue, is there an even greater need for trusted and trained art experts in an information saturated world brought on by new media technologies?