20/4/10 – Internet – Originally created in 1991 as a successor to Repertoire d’Art et d’Archeologie (RAA ; 1972-1989) and to Repertoire International de la Litterature de l’Art (RILA ; 1973-1989), the Bibliographie d’Histoire de l’Art (BHA) is a database spanning Western Art from late Antiquity until today, and covers all aspects. It offers a bibliographical search of over two thousand art history periodicals , in forty-eight languages, of catalogues, monographs, colloquia proceedings…Searches are based on author, journal, title of article and especially subjects and key words, thus making it possible to find articles mentioning an artist whose name does not appear in the title. According to the College Art Association, this is “the most complete art history bibliography database in the world.”
Published in conjunction with the CNRS and the Getty Research Institute for many years, and for the past two years by the Getty Research Institute alone under the name of International Bibliography of Art (IBA), the BHA is no longer updated as the Getty has not found a partner to replace the CNRS and therefore considers it does not have the means to do so on its own.
Until now the BHA was only accessible through art history libraries or institutes and to the public via a CD-Rom limited to use for one year (!) at a rather steep price (179.40 euros). These restrictions no doubt explain the fact that this otherwise invaluable tool was not more widespread.
Thus, it seems paradoxical that its cessation correspond at the same time with its internet posting, accessible to all via the Getty website. At least the work corresponding to almost forty years will not be lost. The BHA and the IBA (which covers 2008 and part of 2009) are already available here, and the RILA will join them starting May 1st.
We point out however that there are other solutions for bibliographical research via internet. We recommend notably Artlibraries.net, a meta search engine covering collections in thirty-six art history libraries in Europe and North America, also using key words. It offers some results not found in the BHA.