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June 21, 2016

Portraits of artistic self: Parsing creative influence through prompted Artstor searches

Justin B. Makemson, PhD, assistant professor of art and the art education program coordinator at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, contributed this essay, part of a study of selective artistic self-identification.

Creative action is defined largely by the artist’s relationship to significant artistic others. Even the youngest of emerging artists are acutely aware of images and objects that surround their own creative explorations. To help address the social negotiations of artistic self-identification and specifically to parse the creative influence of significant artistic others, I developed a comparative visual research method for my dissertation work at Indiana University that combined the analysis of prompted Artstor Digital Library searches with an examination of student portfolios, narrative self-histories, and more traditional portraiture research methods. The purpose of my research was twofold: To better understand the events and circumstances associated with the development of students’ artistic identity and awareness/ownership of that identity; and to draw insight from the examination of a group of seven students that might be expanded to benefit the field of art education.

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June 10, 2016

Artstor tip: Customize our image groups for your needs

Teaching Resources

Did you know that you can easily customize any one of our image groups by adding or removing images to make it exactly what you need?

Begin by opening an image group, such as Cities and Urban Planning from our Teaching Resources. From the Organize menu, choose Save image group as. Once you’ve named and saved your image group, you can then remove any images from the group, add your own content from your personal collection or from the Digital Library, and voilà–you’ve customized the image group!

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June 1, 2016

Help is just a click away


You have questions and Artstor’s Support site has answers! Want to know how to log in from home? Or how to access the Digital Library on your smartphone? Start with our Quick Start Guide. Prefer to watch your instructions? We have you covered. We also have advice on approved image uses, troubleshooting, and much more.

There’s no need to bookmark the site; you can always find the Help link in the top navigation bar of both and the Artstor Digital Library.

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May 23, 2016

Pack your bags and take Artstor along


Heading off for summer break? Did you know you can still access all the features and tools of the Digital Library remotely with a registered user account – it’s Artstor on the go! Create your user account and access our more than 2 millions images and your own image folders and groups. You can even do this from your mobile device. Just remember, you will need to log in through your institution once every 120 days. Can you make it around the world in that time?

Our User Services team is available all summer long if you need help with any of these tools.

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May 23, 2016

Sharing is caring: an interview with SMK’s Merete Sanderhoff


On May 5th, Merete Sanderhoff, curator and senior advisor at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst), presented “Sharing is Caring” (you can see her slides here) at the Artstor offices for a group of professionals in the arts and cultural heritage fields, as well as members of the American Friends of SMK. We took the opportunity to do a brief interview.

Artstor: The SMK is working towards releasing its digitized collections into the Public Domain. How does that fit in with the museum’s mission?

MS: The museum is a public institution, and we see ourselves not as the owners but as stewards of our collections. We believe these collections are for everyone, so making them freely available very naturally aligned with our mission.

It’s also a way to show the breadth and depth of our collection, instead of just the canon. The Rijksmuseum provided a great example: they have gone the farthest in making their public domain materials free and providing the tools to work with them, and today everything they have online is being seen and used. It’s the Long Tail in action—the more obscure works get much fewer views than the peak, but together the views of the lesser-known works add up to much more than for the canon.

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May 16, 2016

Case study: Documenting bastides, France’s medieval market towns

Editor’s note: this post was updated to reflect Artstor’s platform changes.
John Reps, Monpazier

John Reps, Monpazier, 1951 (founded 1284)

In the 13th century, southwestern France gave birth to several hundred new planned towns, partly to replace villages destroyed in the Albigensian Crusades and partly to revivify a stagnating economy and tame areas of wilderness¹. Some were designed as fortress communities, while others were laid out as simple agricultural villages. The great majority, however, had a different function. Known as bastides, they were created as market towns with the aim of concentrating the population in secure places for ease of administration while returning a profit to their sponsors. Their founders were the great feudal lords of the region: kings, dukes, counts, and viscounts.

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May 3, 2016

A well-deserved salute to AP® Art History teachers

Each May, around the world, almost twenty five thousand students sit for the AP® Art History exam. This year’s test falls on the third of May (a date not lost on many seasoned Art History teachers). It is also quite different from the AP® exam you or your children may have taken. This time, students will be taking a test that covers a newly designed AP® Art History curriculum. This is the first year that the exam is truly global in nature.

This curriculum includes works from the European tradition that we all learned in our survey course, such as the Acropolis, but also goes beyond that to include artists from Native American tribal traditions, the rest of the Americas, and works from the Pacific, Africa, and Asia. There are now 250 key works of art or architecture that a student must know quite well in addition to those the teachers and students explore to round out the experience. For the first time, the AP® Art History exam covers something of the cultural heritage of each student in the room while providing them the chance to learn about our global artistic production.

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May 3, 2016

Case study: JSTOR Forum in the K-12 environment

Editor’s note: this post has been updated to reflect the name change from Shared Shelf to JSTOR Forum.

We invited Lisa Laughy, Web Services/Archives Assistant at St. Paul’s School’s Ohrstrom Library in Concord, New Hampshire to tell us about her experience as the first K-12 subscriber to JSTOR Forum (formerly called Shared Shelf), Artstor’s digital media management system.

When I first started looking at software for cataloging our archives photo collection back in 2010, I remember wishing I could find a solution that was just like Artstor – something that combines both a visually rich user experience with the sophistication of professional metadata standards. It took a few years, but it was as if the folks at Artstor read my mind and made my wish come true, when in the fall of 2015 our school was given the opportunity to be one of the first high schools to implement Shared Shelf.

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April 28, 2016

Artistry on the high seas: Captain Cook’s artists

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769. Image and original data provided by Natural History Museum, London.

On his famous three voyages to the South Seas, British explorer Captain James Cook charted the largely unexplored Pacific Ocean, achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and completed the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. But Cook’s nautical feats are only part of the story; of equal importance are the contributions made by the artists who went along on his journeys, risking their lives–and sometimes losing them–to illustrate the animals and plants they encountered for science and posterity. Here are their stories.

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April 21, 2016

What’s so funny, Democritus?

Johannes Moreelse, Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher, c. 163

Johannes Moreelse, Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher, c. 1630. Image and original data provided by the Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Democritus is primarily remembered for theorizing that all matter consists of particles called atoms, and this stunning quote: “Nothing exists except atoms and space, everything else is opinion.”

The Short History of the Atom wiki summarizes Democritus’ theory nicely:

  1. All matter consists of invisible particles called atoms.
  2. Atoms are indestructible.
  3. Atoms are solid but invisible.
  4. Atoms are homogenous.
  5. Atoms differ in size, shape, mass, position, and arrangement.

Prescient, yes, but it didn’t give much material for artists to work with. Luckily, Democritus was also known as “the laughing philosopher.” As classicist Mary Beard explains in Confronting the Classics,

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