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December 14, 2016

The New York art world: the 2000s

Bruce Nauman; World Peace (Projected); 1996; Exhibited at Sperone Westwater Gallery, Fall 1996. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls; © 2009 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art surveys almost three decades of work exhibited in the New York area from 1988-2012. In this post, we consider the personalities and forces that dominated the art world in the 2000s. See also the 1980s and the 1990s.

The beginning of the 21st century was an especially auspicious time for the global arts community. While New York retained its place as a cultural capital, its standing in the world seemed buffeted by larger forces.

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December 13, 2016

The New York art world: the 1990s

The Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art surveys almost three decades of work exhibited in the New York area from 1988-2012. In this post, we consider the personalities and forces that dominated the art world in the 1990s. See also the 1980s and the 2000s.

As curator Gary Carrion-Murayari pointed out, the 1990s had a large influence on how we see art today.  “Some of the artists who were doing things that were shocking then, we take for granted now.”[1]

It was a turbulent time, as major institutions were upended. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. A stock market crash set off a recession keenly felt in the art market. New York gallery owner Mary Boone, named “The New Queen of the Art Scene” in the eighties, reflected on the downturn in 1992. “Value in everything is being questioned,” she said. “The psychology in the 80’s was excess; in the 90’s, it’s about conservation.”[2]

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December 12, 2016

The New York art world: the 1980s

Jean-Michel Basquiat; Gastruck; 1984; Exhibited at Pace Gallery, Spring 2010. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls; © 2014 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society, New York

The Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art surveys almost three decades of work exhibited in the New York area from 1988-2012. In this post, we consider the personalities and forces that dominated the art world in the 1980s. See also the 1990s and the 2000s

Quall’s collection opens during the hurly-burly of the 1980s, the era of Reaganomics and Wall Street’s “greed is good,” and the rise of AIDS. It was also a time when the booming stock market transformed street artists into superstars.  

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December 9, 2016

Is Velázquez’s Las Meninas a time-traveling optical illusion?

Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas. 1656

Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas, or the Family of Philip IV, 1656. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. www.artres.com

According to a 1985 Illustrated London News poll of artists and critics, Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas was voted the world’s greatest painting.

Let’s take a close look at the painting, its history, and the emotions it elicits to pinpoint why.

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November 11, 2016

Seeing is believing: early war photography

Roger Fenton, Hardships in the Camp, 1855. Image courtesy of George Eastman House www.eastmanhouse.org

Roger Fenton, Hardships in the Camp, 1855. Image courtesy of George Eastman House www.eastmanhouse.org

When it comes to modern warfare, we’ve seen so much through photographs: mass graves, explosions, the faces of soldiers the instant they’re shot. And we’ve also seen the aftermath of war–devastated landscapes, soldiers carrying their dead, and returning home to their families. We’ve become accustomed to a depth of visual coverage that has brought deep familiarity with the realities of war from start to finish, a stark contrast to the experience of civilian audiences prior to the advent of photography.

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November 10, 2016

Dada: 100 years of absurdity and radical politics

Our friends at JSTOR Daily remind us that this year marks the centennial of the cacophonous beginnings of the Dada movement in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire.

An anarchic response to the ravages of World War I, the movement is notoriously difficult to pin down. Matthew Wills writes, “Dada combined absurdity and nonsense, radical politics and anti-politics, outrage and outrageousness in the mediums of spoken (more often shouted) word, theatre, collage, photomontage, cut-ups, assemblages, and readymades…”

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November 10, 2016

On the origin of Veterans Day

Armistice Day became Veterans Day in the United States in 1954. While the holiday is also known as Remembrance Day in other countries and celebrates the end of World War I, the name change in the United States reflects its emphasis on honoring military veterans.
The two objectives were mentioned in a speech on the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, by President Woodrow Wilson:

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October 21, 2016

The lighter side of presidential campaigns

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956. Cornell University Library, Rare & Manuscript Collections, Susan H. Douglas Political Americana Collection

Take a deep breath, the presidential debates are finally over. But brace yourselves, we still have a couple of weeks of campaigning left until the actual elections. Why the negative tone? Well, the Washington Post reported that “59 percent of Americans are sick and tired of the election”–and that was way back in July! And we’re not just sick and tired, we’re also stressed: in a more recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults said the upcoming election is a significant source of stress.

Can we interest you in a tour of more innocent days from Cornell University’s Political Americana Collection in Artstor’s public collections? Days in which campaigns featured such lighthearted items as songs like “Grant is the Man,” promoting Ulysses S. Grant, or “Let’s O-K, I-K-E,” about Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

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October 21, 2016

ITHAKA Founder and Trustee William G. Bowen Dies

William G. Bowen, October 6, 1933 – October 20, 2016

The world has lost a uniquely gifted leader and friend. Bill Bowen passed away peacefully at 83 on October 20, 2016. He dedicated his entire professional life to the world of education, and was founding chairman of JSTOR and ITHAKA and founding trustee of Artstor. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

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October 20, 2016

But it looks so real! The parallel rise of photography and Spiritualism

Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company; The Ghost in the stereoscope; 1856 - 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl

Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company. The Ghost in the stereoscope, 1856 – 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: www.rijksmuseum.nl

In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.

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