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August 14, 2015

Reflections after Ramadan

Herbert Cole, People gathered for Ramadan Festival

Northern Ghana; Yendi: People gathered for Ramadan Festival, 1977, Photographed by Herbert Cole.

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the sound boxes stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
– Molana (Rumi), Ghazal No. 1739 from Divan-e Shams-e Tabriz

This past June Muslims around the world fasted for the month of Ramadan. The sight of the crescent moon is the mark for the beginning of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. Many friends and colleagues have asked me what Ramadan is about, and I wish to provide them with something deeper than a surface understanding.

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August 12, 2015

The Zen of Agnes Martin

Agnes Bernice Martin, Waters, 1962. Seattle Art Museum; seattleartmuseum.org. © 2008 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Agnes Bernice Martin, Waters, 1962, Seattle Art Museum. © 2008 Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

To the pioneers of Minimalism, Agnes Martin’s grid paintings were an early source of inspiration. To the Abstract Expressionists, Martin was a peer, whose use of line to cover canvases from edge to edge was not a gesture of Minimal art, but an expression of the AbEx concept of “allover” painting. In her own words, her pale, meditative geometry harkened back to much older ideas. Her art, she claimed, should be recognized alongside that of the ancient’s— the Egyptians, Greeks, Coptics, and, most importantly, Chinese.

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July 29, 2015

Four new curriculum guides in English Literature

Curriculum Guides1

Good news for English instructors: We have four new Curriculum Guides–collections of images from the Artstor Digital Library based on syllabi for college courses–covering different aspects of English Literature, each created by experts in the field:

British Romantic Poetry by Hugh Roberts, Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine

Gender in Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature and Gothic Literature by Jennifer L. Airey, Associate Professor of English at the University of Tulsa

The Coffeehouse: English Literature and the Culture of the Public Sphere, 1660-1740 by Misty G. Anderson, Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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July 22, 2015

A new, easy way to browse through Artstor’s Teaching Resources

Good news: You can now access all of Artstor’s Teaching Resources through the Artstor Digital Library’s Browse menu!

browse

All three of our AP® Teaching Resources–for Advanced Placement courses in Art History, European History, United States History–as well as our Curriculum Guides, Case Studies (from our Travel Award winners), and our popular surveys of selected images for Art, Architecture, and other Humanities and Social Sciences topics are all easy to browse under Teaching Resources on the Artstor Digital Library home page.

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June 30, 2015

Did you know Artstor features more than just images?

Animation of the interior of the Hagia Sofia

In addition to still images, you can find videos, audio files, 3D images, and panorama (QTVR) files within the Artstor Workspace. You can search by media type using the file extensions as keywords:

  • Videos – search for mov. Clicking the movie icon will open your default video player.
  • Audio – search for mp3. Clicking the sound icon will open your default audio player.
  • Panoramas (QTVR) – search for qtvr. Clicking the QTVR icon will open a QuickTime Player window where you can view the environment by panning 360°.
  • 3D images – search for 3D. Clicking the 3D icon will open the 3D image in rotation in the image viewer. To stop or restart the rotation, click the rotation icon .

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June 8, 2015

Introducing the Artstor Digital Library User Advisory Board

Artstor has named the 30 community members of the new Artstor Digital Library User Advisory Board. The members represent a variety of areas of our user community and will gather online three times a year to identify critical issues regarding new tools, features, and functionality of the Digital Library and provide recommendations for improvement.

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June 3, 2015

The other Turner

William Turner of Oxford, Shepherd Boy on a Hillside, ca. 1840. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

William Turner of Oxford, Shepherd Boy on a Hillside, ca. 1840. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

He was only eighteen years old, yet William Turner’s watercolors were already praised in print as follows: “By dint of his superior art he has rolled such clouds over these landscapes as has given to a flat country an equal grandeur with mountain scenery, while they fully account for the striking and natural effects of light and shade which he has introduced.” The critic John Ruskin would also become a big supporter in the artist’s later years.

How could they not admire those rolling landscapes, the colorful skies! No wonder Turner’s considered a precursor to the Impressionists! Oh wait—wrong William Turner.

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May 21, 2015

La Española: the earliest recorded Blacks in the Colonial Americas

Unknown (Dominican), Saint Nicholas of Bari's Hospital, Santo Domingo, Photographer: Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Image: 2009. Photograph copyright © CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, First Blacks in the Americas collection.

Unknown (Dominican), Saint Nicholas of Bari’s Hospital, Santo Domingo, Photographer: Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Image: 2009. Photograph copyright © CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, First Blacks in the Americas collection.

La Española, the island now divided into the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti, existed first as a Spanish colony during the entire sixteenth century, when its population became the first one in the Americas with a majority of people of African descent. The Black ancestors of today’s Dominicans were the first to experience the dreadful transatlantic slave trade, and the first to offer organized resistance as soon as they landed in La Española. They were also the first to endure and survive all the varieties of enslaved labor and enslaved life, and the first to thrive and produce new generations of Afro-descendants born in the “New World.”

Sixteenth-Century La Española: Glimpses of the First Blacks in the Early Colonial Americas,” a 2015 exhibition at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, presented images of manuscripts, transcriptions, translations, and photographs that tell the story of the earliest Black inhabitants of the Americas. The exhibit included photographs of sites of the Dominican Republic’s colonial past by Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, Assistant Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York, the co-curator of the exhibit and a colonial historian. Dr. Lissette Acosta Corniel, CUNY DSI Post-Doctoral Fellow, was also a co-curator of the exhibit.

The show was an offshoot of “First Blacks in the Americas,” a long term CUNY DSI online project focusing on photographs that were part of the living environment of Black people in that territory during colonial times. Part of the collection is available in Artstor’s public collections, an open-access library of digital media from JSTOR Forum subscribers.

“Sixteenth-Century La Española: Glimpses of the First Blacks in the Early Colonial Americas” ran from May 22 6:30–September 10, 2015 at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, NAC Building Room 2/202, The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031.

Editor’s note: this post was updated to reflect changes in Artstor’s platform for public collections.

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May 4, 2015

No longer scandalous: Manet in America

Éduard Manet, The Execution of Maximilian, ca. 1867-8. Photograph: ©The National Gallery, London

Éduard Manet, The Execution of Maximilian, ca. 1867-8. Photograph: © The National Gallery, London

Édouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass was the scandal of the year in France when it was exhibited in the 1863 Salon des Refusés, and Olympia was greeted with the same shock and indignation in the Paris Salon of 1865 (a journalist wrote, “If the canvas of the Olympia was not destroyed, it is only because of the precautions that were taken by the administration”). So selling tickets to show a new painting in America that was too controversial for France seemed a surefire way to get attention—and perhaps make a little money.

From 1867 to 1869, Édouard Manet had made some works depicting the execution of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico in 1867. But considering that Maximilian’s empire had collapsed after Napoleon III withdrew his support, it was not prudent to exhibit them in France while Napoleon remained in power.

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May 4, 2015

Shopping paradise: Émile Zola and the world’s first department store

Eugène Atget, Bon Marche, 1926-27. George Eastman House

Eugène Atget, Bon Marche, 1926-27. George Eastman House

I recently came across the BBC adaptation of Émile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise and, as a self-confessed Francophile, couldn’t wait to begin watching it. A few episodes in, though, my enthusiasm dimmed when it became clear that the series didn’t faithfully follow the book. Zola’s novel is, at heart, an acerbic commentary on consumer culture, not a love story. Where Zola makes The Ladies’ Paradise, a department store, into a protagonist, the show instead relies on the budding romance between a shop girl and the store’s owner to drive it along. The Ladies’ Paradise is the backdrop of the story, but unfortunately not its focus.

Zola, often credited as one of the shrewdest observers of 19th-century French society, did not choose the department store arbitrarily as the setting for his novel. By the time he wrote The Ladies’ Paradise in the 1880s, the department store had become one of the most iconic features of modern Parisian life.

Gustave Eiffel; Louis Auguste Boileau, Le Bon Marché, 1876. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Gustave Eiffel; Louis Auguste Boileau, Le Bon Marché, 1876. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

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