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Program for Art on Film records, 1951-1999, undated (bulk 1984-1997)

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Program for Art on Film records

Administrative History

The Program for Art on Film was founded in 1984 as a joint venture between the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a pilot project that would eventually become independent from its founding institutions. The Program's purpose was to define issues, develop programs, and disseminate information that would support the effective production and use of moving-image media that contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of the visual arts.

From 1984, the Getty Trust, through a joint venture with the Metropolitan Museum, subsidized the development of the Art on Screen Database and the Program's other projects. The Trust's support made it possible for the Program to offer a range of services to the field for free or at minimal cost during this productive development period under the joint venture, which concluded in June of 1994. From July 1994 through June 1996, the Program was based at Columbia University.

The Program was then established as an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. In 1996 the Program affiliated with the Pratt Institute and moved its offices to the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) building, on the Institute's main campus in Brooklyn, New York. Some of the resulting programs enabled by this new joint venture were the Art on Screen and Architecture on Screen festivals.

The Program's first Executive Director was Karl Katz (1984-1992). Wendy Stein served as Program Manager and Nadine Covert served as Special Consultant, Critical Inventory during the same period. In 1992, Covert was named Manager of the Program. Joan Shigekawa served as Coordinator, Production Laboratory, from 1986 to 1990. When the Program moved to Columbia University in 1994, Covert was named Director, and served in this position until 1998, when the program was discontinued.

During its lifetime, the Program's activities included a constellation of complementary services: compiling and maintaining the Art on Screen Database (also known as the Critical Inventory); publishing Art on Screen, the newsletter of film and video on the visual arts; developing filmographies, handbooks, and other publications; reviewing and evaluating moving-image productions on art and architecture; presenting workshops and seminars for educators and museum professionals; and distributing a series of short films and videos involving collaborations between art scholars and filmmakers, produced as part of the Program's earlier Production Laboratory experiment.

Among the reference works produced by the Program were: the Art on Film Database, begun in 1984; Films and Videos on Photography, in collaboration with the Direction des Musées de France, Ministry of Culture and Communication, Paris, in both English and French editions; Art on Screen: A Directory of Films and Videos about the Visual Arts (G.K. Hall & Co., 1992); Art on Screen, a newsletter of the visual arts, and Close-Ups, the Art on Film Database Service supplement of reviews and recommended film titles; Architecture on Screen (G.K. Hall & Co., 1994); Art Museums and Media (1994), a report of survey results; and The Art on Screen Handbook: Practical Guidelines for Using and Producing Films, Videos and Interactive Programs about Art (1994).

The Art on Screen Database provided a unique critical inventory of more than 26,000 international film, video, and multimedia productions. The scope of the database included fine arts, architecture, photography, archaeology, decorative arts, design, costume, crafts, folk arts, and related topics such as aesthetics and creativity. The database was ranked among the top three databases by the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. It appeared in electronic form in 1995 as Art on Screen on CD-ROM (G.K. Hall/Macmillan). [Adapted from Nadine Covert, "Milestones: Activities and Accomplishments"]




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