Farewell Hasan…

Hasan Niyazi, the brains behind Three Pipe Problem, has died prematurely and unexpectedly. His loss is a great one for art-history bloggers and the online art-history community in general, and moving tributes have already been posted to him at Alberti’s Window, Giorgione et al, and Baroque Potion. I’m sure there will be many more.

I’m facing an imminent deadline at the moment but, in lieu of a proper tribute to Hasan, thought I could at least post this. It’s a letter of support I wrote for Hasan’s application for a CAA International Travel Grant, so apologies for its necessarily formal tone.

I began by describing my own online projects…

…. In pursuing these various projects, Hasan has offered me invaluable encouragement and practical support during a period when art historical institutions have often been slow to embrace the possibilities of the web.

Hasan is a unique and remarkable figure in the field. Despite having a career as a physiotherapist, he also manages to work on ambitious art historical projects, and has developed a distinctive art historical voice. This voice combines a number of Hasan’s qualities: his passion for art (particularly Renaissance art); his professional commitment to rigorous scientific methodology; and his desire to discuss art with as many people as possible. Unlike many professional art historians, he has a clear vision of how art history should and could be: rigorous, relevant, technologically sophisticated, and as widely accessible as possible.

This vision is certainly abundantly evident in Three Pipe Problem, but also in his extremely useful AHDB (Art & History: Site Database and Search). And once his Open Raphael project goes live, the full extent of Hasan’s achievements will become evident for all to see. It seems highly likely that this research tool, which synthesizes a wealth of information and makes it freely available to all, will become an essential tool for Raphael students and scholars. It will demonstrate what a web-based catalogue raisonné should be like. Incredibly, Hasan has done all of this with no institutional support, just his intelligence and a formidable work ethic.

Hasan’s blog posts from the recent Raphael conference in Madrid demonstrated how travel could enrich his art historical activities. They also indicated how he can use his blog to expand the “reach” of a conference far beyond the physical limits of its venue. Hasan would undoubtedly make similarly excellent use of the opportunity to travel from Melbourne in order to attend CAA 2013 in New York, should he be given the opportunity. Since they relate so closely to his projects, I would be particularly interested in his thoughts on the panel devoted to “the new connoisseurship,” as well as on those panels addressing “technical art history.”  Like several other art historians of my acquaintance, I am very much hoping to meet Hasan at CAA, so that we may continue in person conversations that have been initiated online and from afar.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions about Hasan and/or his application. He both thoroughly deserves a CAA International Travel Grant and would be a most enlightened choice of recipient.

Had Hasan’s application been successful, I would have met him in New York earlier this year. Alas, it was not to be. But I will treasure the email, twitter, and blog interactions that I did have with Hasan. He was a generous, intelligent soul, and he will not be forgotten.

Tweet for Hasan, 20 June 2013

Tweet for Hasan (one of many), 20 June 2013