Picturae Digitizes James Dee Archive

19 January 2015 683

Artstor received the James Dee Archive after he retired in the summer of 2014. The archive contains over 250,000 transparencies, slides, and negatives documenting contemporary art in New York City (particularly SoHo galleries) from the late 1970s to the present. Picturae has the honor to digitize the James Dee Archive.


James Dee and his archives | Artstor | Photo: Marin Watts


The James Dee Dee’s archive is surely one of the most comprehensive collections documenting contemporary art in New York City over the last four decades. However, the archive comes with one major piece missing. Ever the enterprising businessman, Dee did such a good job of keeping busy that he never bothered to label or catalog his work; when one project was over it was on the next. The lack of cataloging data scared off many potential repositories. However, the collection is arranged in chronological order (in over 70 boxes, a large filing cabinet, and a two terabyte hard drive) and is accompanied by his appointment books, client database, and relevant publications, which makes the prospect of cataloging the collection slightly less daunting. Interested parties bailed out for what they thought would be too much work to order. Eventually Artstor stepped up, thrilled by the quality of the captures and the unique nature of the collection, as it contains loads of works of art unknow to the public at large.



Picturae needed to digitize the James Dee Archive's more than 250,000 color transparencies and slides, which range in size from 35 millimeters to 8 by 10 inches. The transparencies are well preserved and probably need little post processing after digitization, but dust is always a big problem when digitizing negatives. Picturae has developed a process in which dust is removed without contact from brushes, cloths or liquids. This involves two separate procedures: firstly dust is extracted using specially filtered air and secondly the negatives are made antistatic. In order to do this, the negative is placed in a device developed by Picturae. This blows ionized air above and under the negative, expelling all dust. Picturae also enhanced the analogue photos to make them look extra tasty. Moreover the scan operators wore antistatic coats to prevent dirt from outside coming into contact with the negatives. So Picturae worked with extreme care to provide the highest quality digitization of the James Dee Archive. Apart from the large number of transparencies, Picturae also digitizes his agendas and appointment books.


After digitizing part of the collection Picturae will also provide data entry. This means Picturae provides the data entry of name, date and address of the loose records, loose resale certificates, loose invoices, appointment books, message books and notebooks. In this case data entry will help Artstor manage the uncatalogued data of James Dee.


Artstor's Ian McDermott inspecting a transparency | Artstor | Photo: Marin Watts

James Dee

D. James Dee opened The SoHo Photographer Inc. in 1974 to provide the highest quality photography of fine art at affordable rates. He has built enduring and expanding relationships with artists based on his professional expertise and commitment to client satisfaction. The SoHo Photographer was the largest studio in New York City exclusively dedicated to photographing artwork, accommodating any flat art up to approximately 12' x 20' and sculptures of any size. During the 39 years James Dee worked he photographed over 250,000 transparencies, slides, and negatives documenting contemporary art in New York City (particularly SoHo galleries) from the late 1970s to the present. He worked for galleries such as Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc., Paula Cooper Gallery, Holly Solomon Gallery, OK Harris, and artists such as George Segal, Jeff Koons, and many others, in particular during SoHo’s art boom in the 1980s.



Artstor is a non-profit initiative, founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching, and learning in the arts and associated fields. Artstor builds and distributes the Digital Library, an online resource of 1.8 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences, and offers Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloging and image management software service that allows institutions to catalog, edit, store, and share local collections.