The National Institute of Art History, an institution on all fronts

On 28 November 2022, the Institute for Arts & Law welcomed Éric de Buretel de Chassey, Director General of the National Institute of Art History (INHA) since 2016. He specifically reported that the institute is carrying out a series of research programmes, particularly in relation to questions of origin, and houses one of the largest collections in art history.

Born in the United States, holder of a doctorate, Éric de Buretel de Chassey underwent Normale Sup’ and Sciences Po. First as a teacher, he later led the Villa Medici before heading the National Institute of Art History (INHA).

He reported that if INHAonly in existence since 2001, the beginning of its construction goes back to the library in the 1970s. André Chastel (1912-1990) and Jacques Thuilliez (1928-2011) wrote the first reports on which the institute was based.

Varied research programs

Éric de Buretel de Chassey explains that among its main missions, the institute conducts various research programmes. They respect simple principles: systematically associate universities and institutions that fall under the Ministry of Culture; but it also requires native digital dimensions in every project.

Typically, programs must have a maximum lifespan of eight years. However, as an example, the first, founded by Michel Laclotte (1929-2021), created a directory of Italian works in French collections. 20 years later, it’s still not finished, and requires regular monitoring.

Director General of INHA indicates that some studies are interested in questions of origin. One concerns participants in the national art market during the German occupation, while another lists African and Oceanic collections in France.

In addition, the Institute is a member of a network of art history institutions. One of its ongoing documents aims to define European art history, and all 46 member states of the Council of Europe are involved. Principle ? Each designates 20 works which they consider to represent the history of the continent (from prehistory to the present), 10 national works and 10 foreign works. The goal is to concretely describe European culture. This work shows the extent to which each country has its own unique national vision and perception of the rest of the world. The European Council mainly includes Azerbaijan and Armenia. ” Discussions are sometimes excited I’m Eric de Buretel de Chassey.

One of the largest collections in art history

The Director General of INHA added that the Institute has large documentary resources, which guarantee conservation. Although, he argues, the INHA library benefits from a much smaller budget than many other places in the world, it still features one of the largest collections of books and journals on art history and heritage.

Its doors are open free of charge to professionals in the art world, academics and students from master’s degrees in art history, in schools of art, architecture, design, etc. The research library, only has 400 places occupied daily.

INHA, an organization that seeks change in society

Éric de Buretel de Chassey claims it: INHA also wants to be a spreader of culture. He asserts that art history is a living discipline when it is closely related to changes in society. This link is not considered passive, said the director general. Art history listens to what society is asking for, but also offers new questions or perhaps more complex answers. To do this, great effort is put into operations aimed at the general public, he underscores, such as the annual art history festival in Fontainebleau, Art between the lines (a monthly discussion broadcast on YouTube), or even the implementation, together with the Ministry of National Education, of tools for history learning. fine arts from kindergarten to the end of the year. ” In a world literally saturated with imagessurprised Eric de Buretel de Chassey, it’s a shame not to show children or adults how to subtly understand drawing. Art history seems to be an appropriate vehicle for this study. »

Cyril de Montis

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