Notes on the 3/30/98 meeting at the Pierpont Morgan Library

Anonymous Artist Relationships

Copies of the draft of a discussion paper prepared by Elizabeth O'Keefe (of the Pierpont Morgan Library) for the ARLIS Cataloging Advisory Committee were distributed, and a fruitful discussion about headings for anonymous artists ensued. Topics included: whether the relationship should be expressed in the bibliographic record, or in the authority record (consensus for the former); the Frick's use of a non-MARC attribution subfield, and its list of valid terms; red herring of the accuracy of the attribution (consensus, the problem of scholars, not catalogers); and the desirability of VR folks' endorsement when proposal is made to MARBI. The group agreed that a new subfield would be needed to describe the relationship of an anonymous artist (or group of artists) to a named artist, as in the following examples:

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, $d1606-1669, $?School of.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, $d1606-1669, $?Follower of.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, $d1606-1669, $?Workshop of.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, $d1606-1669, $?Pupil of.

It was recommended that a non-definitive sample list of relator terms for use in this as-yet-undesignated subfield be created (possibly using the Frick's in-house list of such terms). There was brief discussion about the wording and format of the terms (e.g., should the terms be in parentheses? [no]; should the terms include the word "of" ? [yes]).

A sideline discussion about the relevance of the term "Attributed to" in such a list was initiated, but ended with the conclusion that, no, this phrase should not be part of the relationships list, because it refers to the artist him/herself, not to unnamed followers of the artist.

Liz O'Keefe will revise the paper and circulate it to the members of the Cataloging Advisory Committee for final comments before submitting it to MARBI.

Uniform Titles for Unnamed Works of Art

Confident in the triumphant memory of the recent Library of Congress decision to promulgate Rules Interpretations for Uniform Titles for Named Works of Art, the CDG began to wrestle with a more contentious corollary within the art uniform title arena. Again, Liz O'Keefe had prepared a draft document to help focus the discussion about the squirrely issue of how to create a uniform title for an Unnamed Work of Art.

The discussion commenced with the basic premise that the form of the work of art should be the basic unit of description. However, the nomenclature for these forms provoked prolonged debate. Whose terminology should be used? How descriptive should the terms be? (The prevailing examples used were krater/cup/two-handled cup/vessel, and chair/Windsor chair.) Should the cataloger creating the uniform titles employ the jargon of curators and researchers, or should s/he use terms recognizable to The Average Library Patron? Museum library catalogers and academic library catalogers presented different perspectives about this. A suggestion was made to follow the examples of music catalogers in their formulation of uniform titles, but the applicability of this was argued away. Daniel Starr reminded the group that this issue was not meant to be so difficult and divisive. The reason for the discussion was to formulate a brief statement of guidance for those librarians needing to interpret the uniform title guidelines in their own catalogs - especially visual resource librarians with their many slides of generic art.

The notion of not using form at all brought the discussion back to a boil. It was pointed out that if a patron is doing research on a specific art object, then s/he would know the object by its institution and institutional repository number. Hence, Metropolitan Museum ( G.562) would be just as good as Krater (Metropolitan Museum, G.562). Any doubts as to the nature of the item could be cleared up in the authority record for the item, or could be overcome by adding subject tracings to the bibliographic record.

This idea was fiercely decried as being too vague, but did turn the discussion back to the idea of descriptiveness. The possibility of copying the formulation for manuscript headings (e.g., Metropolitan Museum. Krater. G.562) was also discussed, with opinions pro and con behind it. Questions and arguments flew. Should repository number be the sole qualifier, once a term is decided upon? What about geographic or chronological qualifiers? If the institution/repository/collection is used as a qualifier, then how complete does the institutional name need to be? (For example, MOMA might be instantly recognizable, but what about the dozens of Musees des beaux-arts ... ?) Can an abbreviated version of the name be used, or is it safer to use the AACR2 version, no matter how cumbersome that might be?) Should the Art & Architecture Thesaurus be used as the authoritative reference for terms, or LCSH, as much as possible? Stylistic concerns were revisited vis-a-vis form: is it Chair or Windsor chair or Chair, Windsor? Format questions - parentheses or subfields for qualifiers - were brought up.

A question was raised about the applicability of the LC subheading "Adaptations" to these new art uniform titles. (This subheading is valid for uniform titles of literary works only.) The reply came forth that LC is grinding through the consolidation of its subdivisions for literary authors with the other list of subdivisions valid under personal names, and that eventually Adaptations will be applicable to artists' uniform titles, and, presumably, to the artist-less uniform titles under discussion.

Time grew short, with no resolution of the overall debate in sight. With the assurance that the uniform title debate would continue at the next CDG meeting, it was decided that that meeting would be held in late May (possibly May 18th at the Frick). Other possible future topics are the uniform title for buildings, and another in the Question and answer series (submit your questions to the group).

Minutes compiled by: Kristin Bayruns (with assistance from Heidi Hass).


Name - Institution

Elizabeth O'Keefe - Pierpont Morgan Library
Maria Oldal - Pierpont Morgan Library
Heidi Hass - Pierpont Morgan Library
Kristin Bayruns - Pierpont Morgan Library
Peter Gammie - Bard Graduate Center
Mark Bresnan - Frick Art Reference Library
Rodica Preda - Frick Art Reference Library
Julie Shean - Frick Art Reference Library
Kerry Sullivan - Frick Art Reference Library
Ann Britton - MoMA
Abby Bridge - MoMA
Daniel Fermon - MoMA
Ben Kessler - Princeton University
Daniel Starr - MoMA
Alison Dickey - Art Index
Celine Palatsky - Watson Library Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sherman Clarke - NYU
Carol Rusk - Brooklyn Museum of Art
Shawn Stedinger - Watson Library Metropolitan Museum of Art
Vicky Bohm - Watson Library Metropolitan Museum of Art
Monica Berger - Swiss Institute
Lynn Underwood - Guggenheim Museum