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Interviews with art historians, 1991-2002

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Interviews with art historians

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection of interviews with art historians includes bound transcripts and also, for those interviews conducted by the Getty Research Institute alone, audio cassette tapes of the interviews and computer disks for the transcripts. The project was begun in 1991, in collaboration with UCLA's Oral History Program, and continued by the Getty Research Institute when the collaboration ended. This was a multi-year project to document the history of the discipline of art history through the major contributors to art history and closely related fields.

The purpose of the project was to document the institutions, personalities, philosophical debates, pedagogical and field practice, the relationship of European and American scholarship, the impact of German émigré scholars, the role of women, post W.W.II collecting and connoisseurship, and the professionalization of the museum field.

Interviews in the field of classical archaeology are meant to explore the contributions of foreign archaeological schools in the Mediterranean, the changing politics of national archaeological superintendencies, the synthesis of classics, anthropology and art history, the impact of the "new archaeology" and other theoretical approaches, debates surrounding collecting and dealing in ancient art, and methods of interpretation.

Interviews document the professional, and sometimes the personal, lives of art and architectural historians (including Agnes Mongan, Julius Held, Manfredo Tafuri, George Kubler, James Ackerman, Otto von Simson, Otto Wittmann, Craig Smyth, among others) archaeologists (Phyllis W. Lehmann, Lane Faison, Griselda Pollock, Colin Renfrew, among others), a bibliographer and historian of the book arts (J. M. Edelstein), and a collector of Fluxus artists' papers and works (Jean Brown). Interviews have been made with selected individuals at the J. Paul Getty Trust (J. M. Edelstein, Nancy Englander, Harold Williams). The interviews complement the archives of scholars' papers held by the Getty Research Institute, Research Library.

The repository has numbered the cassette tapes, C1-C45. Some duplicate audio cassettes came with the archive. When available, these duplicates serve as use copies. The repository has reformatted some sound cassettes, and use copies are available as indicated in the container list. Some tapes do not yet have use copies; these audio recordings are unavailable until reformatted.


Arranged in 2 series: Series I. Transcripts and sound recordings, 1991-2002; Series II. Computer disks of oral history transcripts, 1991-2002.

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