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November 15, 2012

On this day: The stock ticker is introduced

Byron Company | Bar Cafe Savarin | 1901 | Museum of the City of New York,

On November 15, 1867, the stock ticker was introduced in New York City. Inventor Edward Calahan rebuilt a telegraph machine to print stock information, revolutionizing the speed at which transaction prices and volume information were transmitted. Before that, quotes from the New York Stock Exchange were typically relayed to main telegraph offices, transcribed, and then delivered by messengers. The ticker got its name from the sound the device made as it printed information on a strip of paper.

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November 7, 2012

1,000 images from Dante’s Divine Comedy – free to everyone

Vincenzo Petroncini Gozzini | La Divina commedia, 1846 | Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library: Fiske Dante Collection

Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divina Commedia has had an incalculable impact on Western culture, not least through its inspiration of visual artists. After all, Dante’s descriptions of grotesque figures, fantastic landscapes, and inventive punishments virtually beg to be depicted visually.

Now everyone can view and download more than 1,000 of these images from eleven editions of the poem published between 1487 and 1846 in the Cornell: Divine Comedy Image Archive collection in Artstor, courtesy of the Cornell University Library. The library plans to make available a total of approximately 2,000 images from editions dating through 1921.

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November 6, 2012

Are you voting today?

Jacob A. Riis | The First Patriotic Election in The Beach Street Industrial School – parlor in John Ericsson’s old house. | ca. 1890 | Museum of the City of New York

Voters across the United States are heading to the polls today to vote in the Presidential Election. Not sure where you need to go? You can look it up here.

This 19th-century photograph by Jacob Riis of children casting ballots on the issue of saluting the American flag comes to us from our partners at the Museum of the City of New York.

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October 12, 2012

Restless spirits and hungry mouths

English | Apocalypse; Folio #: fol. 021r | c. 1250-1260 | Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Tradition holds that on Halloween the walls between the worlds of the living and the dead weaken and spirits walk the earth. More recently, the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer combined this concept with the medieval motif of the hellmouth. In the show, the hellmouth is a weak place between dimensions that attracts demons and other supernatural creatures. If it were ever to open it would signal the end of the world. Suitably inspired, we ventured to explore the theme in the ARTstor Digital Library. A simple keyword search for hellmouth led us to an array of spooky artworks dating from the 11th century to the 17th century.

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October 11, 2012

In the news: Roman mosaics help an endangered species

Marine Fauna | Roman copy of Hellenistic original | Museo nazionale di Napoli | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.,, | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) is reputedly the best-tasting of all Mediterranean fish, so it comes as no surprise that they find themselves endangered. Efforts are underway throughout the Mediterranean to help the species recover, and, according to an article in this month’s Scientific American, ancient art is playing a part.

To determine just how far recovery efforts had to go, scientists wanted to get a sense of how the grouper has changed in the past thousands of years. University of Salento biologist Paolo Guidetti remembered having once seen an image of a Roman mosaic depicting an enormous grouper swallowing a man. Guidetti was struck by the image; while dusky groupers today can grow to be more than four feet long and a weigh around 100 pounds, most are much smaller, and generally live in waters too deep to be able to leap out and swallow a whole Roman fisherman, even a tiny one.

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October 5, 2012

Vanitas: a very literal nature morte

It’s October, which gives us a great excuse to feature a spooky post featuring skulls! Specifically, their appearance in the still lifes known as Vanitas.

Herman Henstenburgh, 1667 – 1726 | Vanitas Still Life | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vanitas depict objects that remind us of our mortality and the transience of earthly pleasures. Popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in Northern Europe and the Netherlands, the genre continues to inspire artists to the present day – the Artstor Digital Library includes four terrific examples of Andy Warhol’s Skulls from the Baltimore Museum of Art, and you’ve most likely heard of Damien Hirst’s “For the love of God,” a diamond-encrusted platinum skull reputed to be the world’s most expensive art piece.

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October 2, 2012

Celebrating the digital collection builders of New York City

Artstor works with more than 250 international museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists’ estates to share 1.4 million images in the Digital Library. To celebrate our local partners – and to provide an opportunity for like-minded professionals to discuss their objectives and challenges – we held a reception for New York City’s digital collection builders at the beautiful Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s garden in midtown.

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September 26, 2012

Catching up with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros

Jesús Soto | Pre-Penetrable, 1957 | Courtesy of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) | © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris, © Sucesión Jesus Soto.

Since Artstor began its collaboration with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) in 2009, hundreds of images of Latin American art have been made available through the Digital Library, including most recently nearly 140 images of Spanish Colonial art and utilitarian objects. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), we reached out to CPPC to learn about some of their recent events and initiatives.

The Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (FC/CPPC) is always seeking new ways to make the collection more easily and universally accessible, including institutional partnerships, seminars, exhibits, and publications.  For this reason, we are delighted to have works from the collection included in the Artstor Digital Library.

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September 11, 2012

Four Easy Tricks to Help You Search the Artstor Digital Library

René Magritte | The Eye, c. 1932/35 | The Art Institute of Chicago Collection | © 2009 C. Herscovici, London / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

There are many ways to find the images you’re looking for in the Artstor Digital Library; a simple keyword search will often lead you to what you’re looking for, and an advanced search will help narrow the results. Wildcards can help when you don’t remember a precise name or title, or, conversely, when you are looking for something very specific. There are only four to remember:

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September 6, 2012

Rem Koolhaas and the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture

Rem Koolhaas, Madelon Vriesendorp, Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis | Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture: The Strip, project Aerial perspective, 1972 |The Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection | © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / BEELDRECHT, Hoofddorp, NL

We’ve gathered six examples that illustrate how the images in Artstor can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of architecture and architectural history, along with two case studies, one by a then-doctoral candidate and another by a fine art faculty member.

In his four decades as an architect and urbanist, Rem Koolhaas has never wavered in his audacious vision, continuously dreaming up controversial projects such as the Central China Television Headquarters Building in Beijing (composed of two uneven 44-story legs joined at the top by a 13-story angled bridge that precariously juts out over a plaza), or an unrealized proposal for a 1.5-billion-square-foot Waterfront City on an artificial island just off the Persian Gulf in the coast of Dubai.

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