Tate Digitizes Rare Excerpts from Famous Artists’ Sketchbooks, Letters, and Photos

Tate Digital Archive

Robert Adams, “Collage Two”, date not known. © Robert Adams Estate. Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Gone are the days when you had to travel the world to see great art. Although you can’t beat the real thing, many digital alternatives are available that allow art enthusiasts from all over the world to explore art online. Digital archives from some of the world’s most esteemed museums are continuing to grow thanks to their curators, contributing institutions, and funding. One museum to join to digital world is Britain’s Tate Modern, who have not only added more than one million items to their online gallery (making them the world’s largest archive of British art), but have also included rare excerpts from artists’ personal sketchbooks, letters, diaries, and photographs.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Tate’s Archives & Access project contains a rich array of published artists’ materials that document the “lives and working processes of British born and émigré artists from more than 900 archive collections.” Among the collection are personal photographs belonging to Eileen Agar, where in one, her friend and fellow artist, Pablo Picasso, is captured relaxing on a beach. Also archived are scans from Agar’s sketchbooks, where she experimented with colorful strips of cellophane. More treasure can be found in the One hundred and fifty nine drawings and watercolours by Josef Herman collection, where a vast array of the artist’s sketches have been included.

The project also invites viewers to use their various digital tools, such as the Albums feature, which allows users to curate and share their favorite collection pieces, and AnnoTate, an online crowdsourcing transcription tool that encourages audiences to transcribe their thoughts about the online artwork. There’s also a YouTube series, which accompanies the digitization, called Animating the Archives that explores the work of the artists in the collections.

The Tate Modern Archives & Access project allows art lovers to find rare excerpts from famous artists’ personal sketchbooks, letters, diaries, and photographs.

Tate Digital Archive

Josef Herman, “At the funeral”, date not known. © The estate of Josef Herman, Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Digital Archive

Julian Trevelyan, Page 1 from “Scrapbook”, 1938–40. Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Digital Archive

Anita Bartle, Page 82 from “ This is my Birthday” bound volume book, 1902. © The Executors of the Intellectual Estate of Anita Bartle, Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Digital Archive

Eileen Agar, “Slide on which a geometric pattern has been constructed from pieces of coloured cellophane glued to the slide”, date not known. © The estate of Eileen Agar. Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Digital Archive

Eileen Agar, “Colour glass lantern slide with a paper cut-out of a plant against a coloured background”, date not known, © The estate of Eileen Agar. Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Digital Archive

James Boswell, Page 1 from “Sketchbook containing sketches of street scenes and caricatures” “cityscape with railway station”, 1938-9. © The Estate of James Boswell. Photo © Tate (CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Tate Modern Archives & Access: Website
h/t: [Open Culture]

All images via the Tate Modern Archives & Access.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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