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October 17, 2013

Send in the clowns

Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University

Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University | RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY™ image courtesy of Feld Entertainment, Inc. RINGLING BROS.® and THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH® are owned and used by permission of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Inc.

In the Journal of American Folklore, Lucile Hoerr Charles asks a question that doubles as a survey of clowns throughout the world: “What has the stage buffoon of the Chinese in common with the court fool of the Middle Ages in Europe; and with the stage fool in Elizabethan England, magnificently represented in Falstaff; and with the Badin in France, origin of our term badinage; and with the Spanish Bobo or Booby? How does the Narr and Hanswurst in Germany differ from the comic Vidusaka, stock character of the Hindu drama; or from the early Greek clowns depicted on Corinthian vases; or from the ancient Egyptian god Typhon, probably a deified clown, with his heavy, coarse face and protrusive tongue?”

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October 16, 2013

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s “New Forms of 36 Ghosts”

Left: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: Sadanobu Threatening a Demon in the Palace at Night | 1889. Right: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: The Ferocity of Tametomo Driving Away the Smallpox Demons | 1890.  Scripps College: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

Left: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: Sadanobu Threatening a Demon in the Palace at Night | 1889. Right: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi | New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts: The Ferocity of Tametomo Driving Away the Smallpox Demons | 1890. Scripps College: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery | Contact information: Kirk Delman, Registrar, 1030 Columbia Ave, Claremont, CA 91711, Tel: 909-607-3397, Fax: 909-607-4691, kdelman@scrippscollege.edu

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi is widely recognized as the last great master of Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” the main genre of Japanese woodblock printing (and a major source of inspiration for many modernist artists from Europe).

In his last series, New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts, the artist depicts a variety of spirits and magic animals from Japanese folk tales and history. As opposed to the morbidly graphic work that originally brought him fame, horror is mostly suggested in these works. Can you spot the subtle supernatural event in the print below?

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October 11, 2013

Deir Mar Musa: From Byzantine watchtower to monastic compound

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Deir Mar Musa; interior | 11th -13th century |Damascus | Photographer: James J. O’Donnell

Georgetown University’s James J. O’Donnell is contributing images of Deir Mar Musa, a monastic compound north of Damascus, to the Artstor Digital Library. Here, O’Donnell gives us a short history of the site and shares his experience of visiting.

Deir Mar Musa began life as a Byzantine watchtower, served as a medieval hermitage and modern monastery, fell into disrepair and neglect, and was then brought back to life a few years ago as a brave and venturesome monastic community and place for Christian and Muslim Syrians to meet in mutual respect. It has become a different kind of watchtower and monastery in the face of the murderous upheaval all around it.

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October 9, 2013

Introducing Artstor’s AP® Art History Teaching Resources

Jacques-Louis David | The Oath of the Horatii | 1784 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Jacques-Louis David | The Oath of the Horatii | 1784 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Artstor’s AP® Art History Teaching Resources support the revised Curriculum Framework for the Advanced Placement® Art History course. The image groups and accompanying essays will eventually cover all 250 key works of art and architecture required for AP® Art History courses. Along with the Digital Library’s 1.8 million images, the project enhances classroom teaching in preparation for the AP® exam and provides support for anyone teaching these works of art.

Senior K-12 Relationship Manager Dana Howard, an experienced Art History teacher, has been leading the team creating the project.

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September 27, 2013

The Blessing of the Animals: An Artstor Bestiary

Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

Giotto | Saint Francis Preaching to the Birds, predella of Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmatta | c. 1295-1300 | Musée du Louvre | Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. ; artres.com

October 4 is generally recognized as the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of the animals, steward of nature, and author of the Canticle of the Creatures.  In a divinely ordained cosmos, Francis considered all elements – sun, moon, and stars, water and fire, and the animals – our sisters and brothers, and he is often depicted and described preaching to the birds, as in Giotto’s panel shown here, 1295-1300.  The cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York famously marks his feast day with the blessing of the animals.  Thousands of creatures, from tortoises to camels, process though the nave, gather in the yard, and are blessed by clergy.  This scene is replayed throughout churches around the globe, a celebration of the beasts that surround us and enhance our lives.

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September 20, 2013

Upside down world: Rubén Durán on his photographs of Carnaval

Photographer: Rubén Durán | Creole/Fantasy Influence (Carnival in Dominican Republic) | February or March circa 2009-2010 | Cotuí, Dominican Republic | Photograph © HCC Central College - Rubén Durán

Photographer: Rubén Durán | Creole/Fantasy Influence (Carnival in Dominican Republic) | February or March circa 2009-2010 | Cotuí, Dominican Republic | Photograph © HCC Central College – Rubén Durán

Rubén Durán, Senior Web & Video Developer at Houston Community College Central’s Curriculum Innovation Center, was kind enough to give us a little background on his collection of photographs of carnaval, which were recently released in the Artstor Digital Library.

The riotous, rebellious world of carnaval came to life for me when I traveled to my native Dominican Republic to recapture some of my youth. The result is a collection of 550 images now available in the Artstor Digital Library in collaboration with the Houston Community College Central Fine Arts Division. The vibrant colors document the oldest carnaval celebrations in the Americas and I discovered at the Caribbean crossroads, Creole, Spanish, and African cultures blending with the indigenous Taino people to create festivals unlike any others I’ve seen.

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September 13, 2013

A closer look at Hans Holbein’s “The Ambassadors”

Hans Holbein the Younger | Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ('The Ambassadors') | 1533 | The National Gallery, London  | Photograph ©The National Gallery, London

Hans Holbein the Younger | Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (‘The Ambassadors’) | 1533 | The National Gallery, London | Photograph ©The National Gallery, London

Hans Holbein the Younger’s “The Ambassadors” of 1533 is well known for its anamorphic image of a skull in the foreground, but upon close perusal, the objects on the table between the two subjects prove just as fascinating.

To start with, the painting memorializes Jean de Dinteville, French ambassador to England, and his friend, Georges de Selve, who acted on several occasions as French ambassador to the Republic of Venice, to the Pope in Rome, and to England, Germany, and Spain.

The upper shelf, which is concerned with the the heavens, includes a celestial globe, a portable sundial, and various other instruments used for understanding the heavens and measuring time, while the lower shelf, which reflects the affairs of the world, holds musical instruments, a hymn book, a book of arithmetic, and a terrestrial globe.

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August 29, 2013

Teaching with Artstor: We Are What We Ate (and Drank)

Wine Making (Vine Shoots, Putti Gathering Grapes and Male Bust; Grape-gathering Cupids); detail | c. 350 CE | Chiesa di S. Costanza (Rome, Italy) | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; artres.com ; scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Wine Making (Vine Shoots, Putti Gathering Grapes and Male Bust; Grape-gathering Cupids); detail | c. 350 CE | Chiesa di S. Costanza (Rome, Italy) | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; artres.com ; scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Gregory K. Martin, Ph.D.
Upper School Director, La Jolla Country Day School

In a compelling study of Western United States history, Patricia Nelson Limerick quotes Nannie Alderson, a former Virginian who moved to Montana in 1883. Alderson, looking back on a unique feature of her experience, recollected that there was on the frontier an abundance of cans: “Everyone in the country lived out of cans […] and you would see a great heap of them outside every little shack” (“Closing the Frontier and Opening Western History”).

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August 5, 2013

A challenging treasure: the James Dee archives

D. James Dee and his archive

Photographer D. James Dee and his archive

In early June, the New York Times published an article about a massive (and massively intriguing) photography archive. D. James Dee, aka the SoHo Photographer, spent almost 40 years documenting contemporary art in New York City and, upon retiring, was searching for a home for his archive. Dee worked for many galleries such as Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Inc., Paula Cooper Gallery, Holly Solomon Gallery, OK Harris, and artists such as George Segal, Jeff Koons, and many others, in particular during SoHo’s art boom in the 1980s. The archive comprises slides, transparencies, negatives, and digital photographs of approximately 250,000 works of art.

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July 24, 2013

On this day: Mata Hari is sentenced to execution for espionage

French | Mata Hari performing Brahmanic dances in the library of the Musée Guimet, Paris | 13 March 1905 | Musée Guimet  | Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)

French | Mata Hari performing Brahmanic dances in the library of the Musée Guimet, Paris | 13 March 1905 | Musée Guimet | Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN)

On this day in 1917, the exotic dancer known as Mata Hari was sentenced to death in France for spying for Germany during World War I.

Born in the Netherlands, Gertruida Margueretha Zelle moved to Paris in 1903 and began performing as a dancer under the name Mata Hari. She claimed to be a princess from Java trained in the art of sacred Indian dance. Her claims were taken at face value and her exotic dancing became very popular across Europe. The images here captures her at the height of her fame.

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