“A Database is an Argument”: Anne Helmreich on Digital Humanities and Art History

What do we consider scholarship? Is it creating these core foundational things that others can draw from? Or is it making an original argument? We’ve tended toward the original argument side. There are plenty of people who would argue that a database is an argument.”

In this episode

Caro Fowler speaks with Anne Helmreich, an art historian and digital humanist who currently serves as associate director of the Getty Foundation. A specialist of nineteenth-century art, Anne recounts how she veered away from law school to pursue art history. Anne reflects on how she first encountered digital humanities, and why for nearly fifteen years she has explored the possibilities of what this burgeoning field might open up for art history, and how art history in turn might productively challenge the digital humanities.


Anne Helmreich is associate director of the Getty Foundation and formerly associate director of digital initiatives at the Getty Research Institute, both of the J. Paul Getty Trust. She has also served as dean of the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University and associate professor of art history and director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. In 2019 Anne co-authored the epilogue to Art Crossing Borders: The Birth of an Integrated Art Market in the Age of Nation States (Europe, c. 17801914) (Brilland co-edited a special issue of Visual Resources dedicated to digital art historyHer most recent monograph is Nature’s Truth: Photography, Painting, and Science in Victorian Britain (Penn State University, 2016). 

This conversation was recorded on September 25, 2020. 

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