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Blog Category: Case study

February 16, 2012

Grammar in art

By Lera Boroditsky, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University

Paul Gauguin | Life and Death, 1891-1893 | Musée Khalil | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. http://www.artres.com

How do artists decide whether time, death, or liberty should be personified as male or female? One suggestion comes from linguistics.  For example, Roman Jakobson (1959) reports: “The Russian painter Repin was baffled as to why Sin had been depicted as a woman by German artists: he did not realize that ‘sin’ is feminine in German (die Sünde), but masculine in Russian (грех).” Does the grammatical gender of nouns in an artist’s native language indeed predict the gender of personifications in art?

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August 16, 2011

Artstor Is… Latin American Studies

Moche peoples, Peru, Pair of Earflares, 3rd-7th century. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Artstor Digital Library offers many excellent resources to support Latin American Studies, encompassing materials from the Pre-Columbian era through the Spanish conquest, and from Cuba’s revolution in 1959 to images of Carnaval in Brazil in 2008.

Guatemala, Maya, Vessel with Mythological Scene , 8th century. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A history of the region can be illustrated with images from the encyclopedic collections available in the Digital Library. An excellent start can be The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, which includes hundreds of pages from Aztec codices that provide excellent primary sources for Pre-Columbian culture. The Codex Mendoza (ca. 1541), for example, illustrates the history of Aztec rulers and their conquests, the tributes paid by their provinces, and a fascinating general description of daily Aztec life. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes contains examples of 19th and 20th century costumes from different Latin American countries, providing a glimpse of the culture after the region’s independence from Spain. Revolutions, civil wars, elections, and other events in Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and other countries from the 1950s to current times are amply documented in Magnum Photos.

Artstor also features many collections that specialize in or are substantially devoted to Latin American topics. Some concentrate on the arts, such as Jacqueline Barnitz: Modern Latin American Art (University of Texas at Austin): modern art from Mexico and ten other Caribbean, Central, and South American countries; and Latin American Art (Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros): colonial, modern, and contemporary Latin American art.

Grand Pyramid at Tenayuca. Masonry ‘Serpent’ sculptures surrounding the base. Photographer: Josef Albers. © 2008 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT/Artists Rights Society, NY. Photograph by Tim Nighswander.

Others collections focus on archaeological sites and Pre-Columbian arts, including Carnegie Institution of Washington Photographs of Mayan Excavations (Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University): archaeological excavations throughout Central America, images from the excavated sites at Chichen Itza and Copán; Ferguson-Royce: Pre-Columbian Photography (University of Texas at Austin): magnificent aerial views and ground photographs of many of the major Pre-Columbian sites in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras; and Josef and Anni Albers Foundation: the artists’ travel photographs taken between 1934 and 1967 during visits to cities and archaeological sites throughout Chile, Mexico, and Peru, along with personal photographs and photo collages.

Santa Maria, exterior detail, 18th Century. Image and original data provided by the School of Architecture Visual Resources Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Architecture in Latin America is covered by Hal Box and Logan Wagner: Mexican Architecture and Urban Design (University of Texas at Austin): architecture and outdoor communal spaces in Mexico, focusing on Pre-Columbian and 16th-17th century Colonial sites, but also including Post Colonial structures from the 18th – 20th centuries; and Alka Patel: South Asian and Cuban Art and Architecture: field photography including a selection of Cuban architecture of the 18th through early 20th centuries.

A few collections present more unusual cultural artifacts, notably Cuban Heritage Collection (University of Miami Libraries): black and white photographs of Cuba from the early 1900s to the 1930s depicting various aspects of the life, architecture, and culture of Havana and other Cuban towns; and Mexican Retablos (Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey): contemporary examples of traditional religious folk art as a source of sociological data for the experiences of Mexican migrants to the United States.

Artstor is working on more collections, among them Diego Rivera (Detroit Institute of Arts): images of works by the influential Mexican artist; Mark Rogovin: Mexican Murals: 20th century murals in Mexico; The Jean Charlot Collection (University of Hawai’i at Manoa): including Mexican art and archaeology, particularly relating to the revolutionary artists and writers of the 1920s; and new QTVR panoramas from Columbia University that include Sacsayhuamán, the Inca walled complex north of Cusco, Peru.

For more interdisciplinary teaching ideas, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” Also, download Artstor’s Subject Guides.

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July 27, 2011

Artstor Is… Middle Eastern Studies

Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Iran, Sculpture, bull head, 6th-5th century BC. Image and original data provided by Bryn Mawr College. Image © Bryn Mawr College

Extending from Morocco and North Africa to Turkey and Iran, the Middle East is interesting and complex economically, socially, politically, and culturally. The Artstor Digital Library offers many collections that document the rich history of the region that gave birth to the world’s earliest civilizations and major religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Islamic, Qur’an stand, 1360. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Explore these collections which focus mainly or exclusively on the Middle East and jointly feature approximately 100,000 related images: Islamic Art and Architecture Collection (Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Walter Denny): digital images of the art and architecture of Islam from the personal archives of a team of leading scholar photographers; Mellink Archive (Bryn Mawr College): archaeological excavations of ancient sites in Turkey and the Near East; Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art: Syrian and Persian furniture, doors, and ceilings; Persian and Turkish tile panels and portable ceramics; and Central Asian, Persian, and Turkish textiles; Pattern in Islamic Art from David Wade: images illustrating patterns and design features found throughout the Islamic world; Barbara Anello: Photographs of Southeast Asia and Morocco: images of Morocco’s traditional earthen architecture in Ait Ben Haddou and Skoura, and the ancient Roman ruins in Volubilis; James Conlon: Mali and Yemen sites and architecture: includes contemporary photographs depicting architecture and cultural sites and objects in Tarim and many other cities, monuments, and sites in Yemen’s Hadramaut Valley; Dura Europos and Gerasa Archives (Yale): images of papyri, artifacts, and structures unearthed during the excavations of the ancient sites of Dura-Europos in Syria and Gerasa (modern Jerash) in Jordan, along with historical documentation of the expeditions; Egyptian and other Ancient Art (Arielle Kozloff Brodkey): images of the art, architecture, and archaeology of ancient Egypt, with special strengths in Theban tombs; Giza Archaeological Expedition Archive (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston): visual documentation of the Giza pyramids, workers at dig sites, interiors of excavated monuments, objects, and human remains in their original find spots, individual finds and artifacts, and Egyptians in modern-day Giza and Cairo; Plans of Ancient and Medieval Buildings and Archaeological Sites (Bryn Mawr College): site plans for key ancient and medieval architectural monuments and archeological sites relating to the Classical and Ancient Near East; and Sites and Photos: broad and in-depth documentation of the ancient world, including Classical, Megalithic, Islamic, Crusader, and Gothic archaeology and architecture, with a focus on religious and Biblical sites.

Abdullah Freres, Mosquée de Kaid Bey, 1850s – 1890. This image and data was provided by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

In addition, there are dozens of collections that feature images related to the Middle East in their wide-ranging content, such as Magnum Photos, which covers events like the establishment of Israel as an independent state, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iraq War, and George Eastman House, which features 19th century travel and landscape photography of the Middle East by photographers such as Abdullah Frères and Félix Bonfils. You can find tens of thousands further images by browsing by individual country: Choose Browse > Geography > and then pick the Middle Eastern country you are researching. You can choose a Classification to further narrow your results.

For teaching ideas, see our Sample Topic on Middle Eastern Studies. To view all our Sample Topics, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” Also, read Colette Appelian’s 2011 Travel Award-winning essay, “Online Teaching and Architectural Solutions to Climate Problems in the Islamic World.” For more interdisciplinary ideas, download Artstor’s Subject Guides.

Tapestry Square with the Head of Spring, Egyptian , 4th–5th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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July 5, 2011

Artstor Is… American Studies

We welcome our United States users back to their desks after the Independence Day holiday weekend with a pointer: The Digital Library provides thousands of images related to American Studies ranging from colonial times to the present, including photography, architecture, decorative arts, graphic design, painting, and sculpture.

The Forbes Co. | Buffalo Bill: Cowboys Ride Texas Longhorn | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Circus Collection

The Artstor Digital Library is rich with collections that cover general American history. Notable ones include: Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress): pictorial overview of American history, including images of prints, posters, maps, manuscript pages, photographs, design, movie stills, and cartoons; Native American Art and Culture (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution): historic photographs documenting Native American subjects (portraits, scenes, etc.);  Schlesinger History of Women in America Collection (Harvard University): portraits of women’s work, key participants in the women’s suffrage movement and larger women’s rights movement, as well as women involved in organized labor and vocational training; Richard F. Brush Art Gallery (St. Lawrence University): photographs documenting the Vietnam War and protests and demonstrations it engendered in the United States; George Eastman House: early photographs of the American West by William Henry Jackson and Carleton Watkins, and portraits by Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes, widely considered the first masters of photography in the United States; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Circus Collection: images documenting the history of the circus in America; Historic American Sheet Music Covers (Minneapolis College of Art and Design): sheet music covers in this collection date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1898-1923); The Rogovin Collection: social documentary photography of the poor and working class, and his depictions of their lives, communities, and working conditions; Century Magazine Illustrations of the American Civil War (Minneapolis College of Art and Design): images depicting Civil War battle scenes and camp life, as well as details of weapons and uniforms; and Tenniel Civil War Cartoon Collection (Minneapolis College of Art and Design): John Tenniel’s full-page cartoons of the American Civil War in British humor magazine Punch.

Andy Warhol | Andy Warhol | The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Collection | © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

The Digital Library also offers many resources on American art and architecture. Among the highlights: Carnegie Arts of the United States: history of American art, architecture, visual and material culture; Ralph Lieberman: Architectural Photography: architecture and public sculpture in the United States, particularly museum architecture in the Midwest and New England; Dov Friedman: American and European Architecture: historic and contemporary architecture in the United States; Community Murals (Timothy Drescher): contemporary community murals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.; Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (Library of Congress): a systematic record of early buildings and gardens in the American South; and Terra Foundation for American Art: art of the colonial era through 1945.

Christopher Anderson | Barack Obama at a rally, 2008 | Image and original data provided by Magnum Photos | © Christopher Anderson / Magnum Photos

Also of note, Magnum Photos features iconic photographs documenting the history and culture of the United States from the 1940s to the present. Cornell Capa covered major political events, such as the electoral campaigns of Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy. Following Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, Paul Fusco captured fleeting images of the thousands of mourners who lined the tracks as Kennedy’s body was carried by funeral train from New York to Washington, DC. Throughout the 1960s, Magnum photographers chronicled the struggles of African-Americans to achieve racial equality, photographing demonstrations, protests, marches, and speeches by prominent leaders of the civil rights movement, especially Martin Luther King, Jr. The Magnum collection includes images of current events in the United States, from on-the-ground photographs of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005, to Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Find hundreds of thousands of further American images by choosing Browse > Geography > United States. Choose a Classification to narrow your results.

For teaching ideas, see our Sample Topic on American Studies. To view all our Sample Topics, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” For more interdisciplinary ideas, download Artstor’s Subject Guides.

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June 17, 2011

Artstor Is… Architecture

State Capitol, Montgomery, AL. Photographer: Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1939. Image and original data from Library of Congress, Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South Collection

Artstor just launched the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (Library of Congress), architectural photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston’s systematic record of early American buildings and gardens in the South. Johnston’s masterly portrayals of the exteriors and interiors of houses, mills, churches, mansions, plantations, and outbuildings transcend their purpose as records, and her prints have been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, among other institutions. Johnston was a pioneer photographer—she was given her first camera by George Eastman, the inventor of roll film—and she continued to work at her craft until her death in New Orleans at the age of 88. She was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for her work in preserving old and endangered buildings.

The Carnegie Survey is the latest of the many excellent resources available for architectural studies in the Digital Library, which features more than 50 collections and 300,000 images documenting architecture and the built environment, including monuments, buildings, drawings, models, plans, and QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas.

TWA Terminal (Trans World Airlines Terminal), exterior, entrance from the north. Eero Saarinen and Associates, with Kevin Roche, Cesar Pelli, Edward Saad, and Norman Pettula, architects. Photographer: Ezra Stoller, 1962. Ezra Stoller © Esto

Highlights include: The Museum of Modern Art: Architecture and Design, which features architectural drawings, models, and photographs; SAHARA (Society of Architectural Historians Architecture Resources Archive), images of architecture, landscape design, and the built environment; Ezra Stoller: Modern Architecture (Esto), modern architecture from the archive of the celebrated architectural photographer; Architecture of Venice (Sarah Quill), Venetian architecture and architectural sculpture; Hal Box and Logan Wagner: Mexican Architecture and Urban Design (University of Texas at Austin), architecture and outdoor communal spaces in Mexico; Carnegie Survey of Architecture of the South (Library of Congress), a systematic record of early buildings and gardens in the American South; Brian Davis: Architecture in Britain, British and European architectural and garden sites from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century; European Architecture and Sculpture (Sara N. James), Italian and English architecture, with an emphasis on sites in England; Dov Friedman: American and European Architecture, historic architecture of New York City, as well as sites in Central and Eastern Europe; Hartill Archive of Architecture and Allied Arts, the architectural history of the Western world from antiquity through the present, and from the Middle East to the Americas; Historic Campus Architecture Project (Council of Independent Colleges), the first national architecture and landscape database of independent college and university campuses; Historic Illustrations of Art & Architecture (Minneapolis College of Art and Design), engravings, line drawings, and plans; Christopher Long: Central European Architecture (University of Texas at Austin), sites in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland; Wilfried Wang: Modern Architecture (University of Texas at Austin), modern European and American architecture, with a special focus on museum architecture.

Tomb Complex of Muhammad Adil Shah, 1656 Bijapur, Karnataka, India. Photographer: Alka Patel, 2008. © 2008 Alka Patel.

The collections in the Digital Library also include several devoted to non-Western architecture. Among the most notable are Islamic Art and Architecture Collection (Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Walter Denny), architecture of the Islamic world; Alka Patel: South Asian and Cuban Art and Architecture, fieldwork photography focusing on the Islamic architectural history of South Asia from 12th to the 18th centuries, and Cuban architecture of the 18th through early 20th centuries; Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, Buddhist cave shrines in Dunhuang, China; Sites and Photos, archaeological and architectural sites in the Middle East and Europe; American Institute of Indian Studies, Indian art and architecture; Art, Archaeology, and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives), art and architecture in Asia and the Middle East; Herbert Cole: African Art, Architecture, and Culture (University of California, Santa Barbara), field photography of African architecture and sites from Nigeria, Ghana, the Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Kenya; and James Conlon: Mali and Yemen Sites and Architecture, earthen architecture and other traditions that link the two distant countries.

Arons & Gelauff; Animal Shelter; curving wall leads to courtyard and entry or receiving area, 2007, Ookmeerweg 270, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image and original data provided by ART on FILE.

In addition to its many collections, Artstor collaborates with professional photographers documenting a wide range of architectural sites and monuments around the world. Colleen Chartier and Rob Wilkinson of ART on FILE document contemporary architecture, built environment projects, and landscape architecture throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East in ART on FILE: Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Public Art; Susan Silberberg-Peirce of Canyonlights World Art Image Bank photographed prehistoric and Native American sites in the Southwestern United States and Spanish Colonial missions, available in California Art, Archaeology, and Architecture (Canyonlights World Art Image Bank); art historian and photographer Ralph Lieberman is producing new images of contemporary museum architecture throughout the United States and Canada in Ralph Lieberman: Architectural Photography; and Columbia University has created thousands of QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas of ancient to contemporary architecture that can be seen in QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture (Columbia University).

Buqshan family villa, stairway between structures; Wadi Du’an, Yemen. Photographer: James Conlon, 2008. For commercial use or publication, please contact: Caleb Smith, Director, Media Center for Art History, Columbia University

Furthermore, with the support of a three-year National Leadership grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Artstor, and The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University are collaborating on the creation of a Built Works Registry (BWR), a community-generated data resource for architectural works and the built environment. The BWR’s goal is to create the system and tools to enable the gathering and widespread dissemination of a large and growing body of built works information. Some ideas about the challenges and benefits of creating the BWR can be found in Aaron Straup Cope and Christine Kuan’s paper, “Imagining the Built Works Registry.” See Built Works Registry Blog.

For teaching ideas, see our Sample Topic on Architecture and the Built Environment. To view all our Sample Topics, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.” For more interdisciplinary ideas, download Artstor’s Subject Guides.

Have other suggestions for new architecture collections? Leave us a comment!

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May 16, 2011

Travel Awards 2011: Picturing Animals

Keri Cronin

Department of Visual Arts faculty, Brock University

Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502. Source Image and original data prErich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archivesovided by /ART RESOURCE, N.Y. artres.com

In January 2011 I launched a new senior-level undergraduate course called “Picturing Animals.” This is a research-intensive course that explores the history of visual culture through a thematic focus on representations of nonhuman animals. From Albrecht Dürer to Damien Hirst, we take a critical look at how and why artists have chosen to represent the animal body at various points in human history. Through discussions, readings and presentations we then situate these art histories in a broader visual context by considering other related instances in which the animal body plays a dominant visual role, including science, natural history, religion, animal welfare activism, the entertainment industry, and fashion.

I often draw on Artstor in preparation for these classes, as the range of images available in this database is broad and interdisciplinary. For this class I need to go beyond “Fine Art”-type images and this is where I find Artstor to be particularly useful. In addition to Landseer, Bonheur, Stubbs and other famous animal painters, I can also find editorial cartoons, tapestries, circus posters and scientific images in Artstor. It is easy to bring these different kinds of images together for critical analysis and discussion using image groups and folders.

Giovanni Francesco Castiglione, A Congress of Animals, 1641-1710. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Giovanni Francesco Castiglione, A Congress of Animals, 1641-1710. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pieter Boel, Views of a Porcupine, c. 1669-1671. Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes, France. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Pieter Boel, Views of a Porcupine, c. 1669-1671. Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes, France. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502. Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Albrecht Dürer, Hare (A Young Hare), 1502. Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Elsa Schiaparelli, Coat, Evening 1931-1932. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Elsa Schiaparelli, Coat, Evening 1931-1932. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Eadweard J. Muybridge , Trotting; sulky; breaking to gallop; sorrel mare, Flode Holden, ca. 1884 - 1887. George Eastman House
Eadweard J. Muybridge , Trotting; sulky; breaking to gallop; sorrel mare, Flode Holden, ca. 1884 - 1887. George Eastman House

One particularly interesting set of discussions we have had in this course is the use of the animal body as a component in the production of art and visual culture. Here, for example, we contrast the ways in which artists like Damien Hirst or Mark Dion incorporate animal bodies directly into their works with the history of animal bodies in artists’ materials (e.g.: dyes and pigments derived from cochineal insects). For this class I was delighted to find examples of clothing dyed with cochineal in the Artstor database.

In another instance we looked at the historical differences (and similarities!) that exist in the use of imagery by animal welfare/rights activists. We looked, for instance, at the ways in which groups such as the Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection or the Massachusetts SPCA recontextualized such well-known images as Sir Edwin Landseer’s A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society. In that same discussion, we analyzed some of the recent photographic campaigns produced by PETA.

One of the major assignments in this course is a 20 page research paper on some aspect of “Picturing Animals.” The students in the inaugural run of this course have done a phenomenal job of coming up with diverse research topics reflective of course themes. In many instances, the students were able to develop their topic through exploring imagery in Artstor, taking, for example, a term or an image from class discussions and using that as a keyword in the database to find related material.

In short, Artstor is a valuable tool for interdisciplinary courses because of both the range of material available in the database and the functionality of such features as “Advanced Search” and the ability to make image groups.

To view the complete image groups that accompany this and other Travel Awards-winning essays, visit the Artstor Digital Library’s Featured Groups and click on Travel Awards.

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May 16, 2011

Travel Awards 2011: Artstor: Making the Case for ‘Real’ Paintings in the Classroom

Elizabeth Perkins

Columbia University graduate student

While reading through conservation records at the National Gallery in Washington, I found many references to Giovanni Bellini’s fingerprints all over the faces in his portraits. I squinted and stared in the gallery, but despite my best efforts and the indulgence of a lenient security guard, I could not get close enough. Returning home and finding a fantastic image of Bellini’s Portrait of a Young Man on Artstor, I finally saw those fingerprints, and they took my breath away. As a developing scholar, the resources that Artstor provides allows me follow up in way that was not possible for earlier generations of art historians.

Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1490. The National Gallery of Art.
Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1490. The National Gallery of Art.
Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1490. The National Gallery of Art.
Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of a Young Man, c. 1490. The National Gallery of Art.
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London. Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London. Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London. Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434. National Gallery, London. Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433. National Gallery, London. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433. National Gallery, London. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433. National Gallery, London. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433. National Gallery, London. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Agnolo Bronzino, Ritratto di Lucrezia Panciatichi, c. 1540. Galleria degli Uffizi. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Agnolo Bronzino, Ritratto di Lucrezia Panciatichi, c. 1540. Galleria degli Uffizi. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Agnolo Bronzino, Ritratto di Lucrezia Panciatichi, c. 1540. Galleria degli Uffizi. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Agnolo Bronzino, Ritratto di Lucrezia Panciatichi, c. 1540. Galleria degli Uffizi. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

When I began designing an undergraduate course on Renaissance portraiture for Columbia’s summer session in 2010, I was pleased to find a wealth of high resolution images to teach from on Artstor. Given the incredible quality of the images from collections like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, would the students avoid entering the actual museum? Would they be content with the images on their computer screens? I could not help but fear that I would have to make a case for looking at “real” paintings. My initial fears were soon put to rest, for Artstor itself made the case for me.

We met at Metropolitan Museum of Art on the second day of class. Each student chose two portraits for class presentations, and I instructed them to get to know their paintings, both in the museum and through the images on Artstor. The combination of in-person and at-home viewing produced extraordinary results. It engendered a number of aha! moments for the students, as the students were given two modes of accessing their works of art. They learned how to look closely and discern aspects of a painting’s history from its very surface. The ability to save a detailed view of an image was enormously helpful; at home students could save specific details to present in class. Rather than flipping quickly through slides, we moved slowly about the paintings, one inch at a time. Through close examination of the paint itself, we made connections between Italy and northern Europe, portraiture and religious works.

The students noticed how Antonello da Messina altered way he painted flesh in the dead Christ and the living; they observed how Giovanni Bellini changed his style from bold to a softly blended layers of oil. We confronted difficult issues of style, and were able to acknowledge how sometimes a damaged area can change the overall appearance of a painting. When we came to Giovanni Bellini, they were no less amazed than I was by the resolution of that image. In an interesting twist, the best images on Artstor encouraged a healthy and irreversible dissatisfaction with two-dimensional reproductions. Having seen a five-hundred-year-old fingerprint, my students could not wait to get out of my classroom and back to the museum, to the real things, and I could not have been happier about it.

To view the complete image groups that accompany this and other Travel Awards-winning essays, visit the Artstor Digital Library’s Featured Groups and click on Travel Awards.

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May 16, 2011

Travel Awards 2011: A Shakespeare Gallery

Julia Reinhard Lupton

Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The University of California, Irvine

With its extraordinary image collection and sensitive search functions, Artstor has changed the way I teach Shakespeare. Images of the Globe Theater and panoramic maps of Elizabethan London set the stage for our engagement with the plays. When teaching The Merchant of Venice and Othello, I use paintings by Venetian artists to introduce students to this city of canals, carnival, and liturgical spectacle. Ignazio Danti’s full-color map provides an aerial view of the city in Shakespeare’s century. Veronese’s Wedding at Cana puts the cosmopolitan world of sixteenth-century Venice on extravagant display, with an African cup-bearer, turbaned Turks and Moors, court musicians, fantastical wedding costumes, and a stage-like setting. Gentile Bellini’s Procession in Piazza San Marco graphs the political and theological axes of public pageantry in Renaissance Venice. A thoughtful illumination of a man and woman dressed for carnival gives further insight into the Venetian theater of life. Jacob de Barbari’s woodcut map of Venice provides a detail of the Jewish ghetto, which I supplement with photographs of the ghetto today. Images of Epiphany kings represent noble Africans as members of a Pauline community, a theme tapped by Shakespeare in Othello.

Sandro Botticelli, The Third Episode of the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, 1483. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Sandro Botticelli, The Third Episode of the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, 1483. (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jacopo del Sellaio, Banquet of Ahasuerus, c. 1490. Galleria degli Uffizi .(c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Jacopo del Sellaio, Banquet of Ahasuerus, c. 1490. Galleria degli Uffizi .(c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Venice: Map of City, 16th C
Venice: Map of City, 16th C
Globe Theatre (Southwark, London, England), Ref.: development 1580-90(i): possible intermediate steps in the early development of English theaters
Globe Theatre (Southwark, London, England), Ref.: development 1580-90(i): possible intermediate steps in the early development of English theaters
Paolo Veronese, Marriage at Cana; detail, 1563. Musée du Louvre. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Paolo Veronese, Marriage at Cana; detail, 1563. Musée du Louvre. Photo Credit: Erich Lessing/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

When I teach A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale, I develop the extensive analogies between the metamorphic, seasonal, and amatory mythologies of Shakespeare’s plays and Botticelli’s Primavera. All three works display the glorious weave of holiday celebration, natural history, mythography, and courtship narratives in the Renaissance society of festival. I supplement Botticelli with examples of medieval and Renaissance calendar art. We also discuss the cassone tradition (marriage chests painted with mythological scenes) and their relevance to both the artistic output of Botticelli and the ways in which humanists and artisans in northern Europe wove classical mythology into the décor of daily life through tapestries, embroideries, and other household objects.

The Taming of the Shrew draws on falconry and animal husbandry discourses, which I introduce to students through medieval falconry guides. I also fill out Shakespeare’s bestiary with images of the hunt and animal social life.

I illuminate Richard II through the Wilton Diptych, a portable votive portrait depicting the coronation of the King by Mary and a host of angels. The painting demonstrates the power of political theology in Richard’s lifetime, tropes that Shakespeare both takes apart and rebuilds over the course of his play.

Banquets figure as settings for key scenes in plays as diverse as Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, and The Taming of the Shrew. At court, Shakespeare’s plays were performed in banqueting houses. Images of Renaissance banquets bring to life the intimate relationship between hospitality, commensality and theater in the Renaissance.

Finally, in addition to these more historical and illustrative uses of visual art, I design backdrops for student readings of scenes from Shakespeare using Artstor images (often updated in Photoshop). By projecting the images against a screen, I can create instant environments for our in-class performances, greatly enhancing student learning and experience.

To view the complete image groups that accompany this and other Travel Awards-winning essays, visit the Artstor Digital Library’s Featured Groups and click on Travel Awards.

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May 16, 2011

Travel Awards 2011: Online Teaching and Architectural Solutions to Climate Problems in the Islamic World

Colette Apelian

Fine Art faculty, Berkeley City College

As the Islamic art historian in the Art Department of Berkeley City College (BCC), I explain how North African to South Asian art and architecture are relevant to design students less familiar with pre-modern and non-western material cultures. Course logistics add to the challenge. Art 48VR, Introduction to Islamic Art History, is one of the few, if not the only online survey of Islamic art presented to a community college audience. To better address student needs, I organize the class thematically rather than chronologically, and focus upon a carefully chosen combination of fine and utilitarian objects and buildings. Presentations must be compressed so that BCC’s course management system, Moodle, properly stores and displays them. An example of how I use Artstor in Art 48VR can be viewed in one image group for the lecture “Architectural Solutions to Climate Problems in the Islamic World.”

Reed building screen, detail, Morocco. Image: 1982. Image and original data provided by Walter B. Denny
Reed building screen, detail, Morocco. Image: 1982. Image and original data provided by Walter B. Denny
Bagh-e Fin, exterior, through screen of entrance portal, toward court. Image: 1978. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom
Bagh-e Fin, exterior, through screen of entrance portal, toward court. Image: 1978. Image and original data provided by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom
Alhambra Palace - (Partal Gardens), Granada, Spain, Main construction 14th century. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos
Alhambra Palace - (Partal Gardens), Granada, Spain, Main construction 14th century. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos
'Alawi Abu Bakr al-Kaf, Dar al-Salam, Exterior, Image: 2005. Tarim, the Hadramaut Valley, Yemen. James Conlon: Mali and Yemen Sites and Architecture
'Alawi Abu Bakr al-Kaf, Dar al-Salam, Exterior, Image: 2005. Tarim, the Hadramaut Valley, Yemen. James Conlon: Mali and Yemen Sites and Architecture
Alhambra Palace - (Generalife Market Garden),Granada, Spain. Begun in the early 14th century, redecorated in 1313-1324. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos
Alhambra Palace - (Generalife Market Garden),Granada, Spain. Begun in the early 14th century, redecorated in 1313-1324. Image and original data provided by Shmuel Magal, Sites and Photos

In addition to illustrating specific motifs, pictures in the group show technology, materials, and plans that naturally temper hot and dry conditions. There are reed, mud brick, stone, and wooden screens (musharabiyya and jails, among other terms), which are used to mitigate the sun’s glare and heat in North African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Indian contexts. Screens also allow air to flow freely while preserving privacy and demarcating private and religious spaces from public and secular locales. There is an Iranian badgir (wind tower) at Mir Chaqmaq (1436-37 CE) that, without electricity, circulates fresh and cool air through multi-story structures. An example from the United Arab Emirates indicates how the idea spread. The image group additionally has historic to contemporary mud brick architecture from Egypt and Yemen. Mud brick insulates interiors from excessive heat and cold, uses inexpensive local resources, and can been crafted into a multitude of styles, including quasi-Rococo and neo-Classical in some Yemeni examples. Images of the Alhambra in Spain, Bagh-e Fin in Iran, and the Sahrij Madrassa in Morocco display architects’ and engineers’ use of water channels, pools, and fountains to cool and hydrate. Medieval waterwheels and a recent qanat demonstrate more methods to harness natural power and supply water. In Egypt and Morocco, central courtyard planned structures and narrow urban streets flanked by windowless buildings cool private and public spaces while providing light, seclusion, and ventilation.

Artstor has helped me create digital bridges between students, subject matter, and Moodle in other ways. I have most appreciated the ability to create presentations in OIV 3.1. After organizing and downloading an image group to my laptop, OIV allows me to create a slide show quickly complete with captions and copyright information. The opportunity to choose compression levels means few size problems when uploading to the course website. Artstor’s varied content has also helped me be more efficient. I can find most of the images I need in one location without additional searches, imports, and scans.

To view the complete image groups that accompany this and other Travel Awards-winning essays, visit the Artstor Digital Library’s Featured Groups and click on Travel Awards.

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May 9, 2011

Artstor Is… Asian Studies

Hindu temple at Pandrethan, south side of temple, Ca. eighth to ninth century, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art, The Ohio State University

Hindu temple at Pandrethan, south side of temple, Ca. eighth to ninth century, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The John C. and Susan L. Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art, The Ohio State University

Did you know Artstor is an excellent resource for Asian Studies? The Artstor Digital Library shares several collections that document Asian cultures, history, religion, architecture, and art.

Magnum Photos offers thousands of documentary images from Asia, beginning from the post-war period to the present, covering everything from Mahatma Ghandi’s India to the Japanese city of Obama as they capitalize on the 2008 American presidential elections. You can find a wide range of Japanese gowns, from 19th century dressing gowns to contemporary dresses by Yohji Yamamoto, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has scores of images encompasing household utensils such as needles, bowls, and saddles to ceremonial objects, armors, and costumes from all regions of Asia. Two other remarkable resources of Asian history are Southeast Asia Visions: John M. Echols Collection (Cornell University Library), which features European and American travel accounts of pre-modern Southeast Asia, and the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery (St. Lawrence University), which includes Vietnam War-era photography by American soldiers.

Temple scene, T'ongdo-sa, South Kyongsang Province, South Korea, Photographer: Carl Strom. Image and original data provided by Carl and Jennifer Strom

Temple scene, T’ongdo-sa, South Kyongsang Province, South Korea, Photographer: Carl Strom. Image and original data provided by Carl and Jennifer Strom

A number of collections offer field photography of architecture throughout Asia, such as: Alka Patel: South Asian and Cuban Art and Architecture (Islamic art and architecture from 12th to the 18th centuries in India and Pakistan); Huntington Archive of Asian Art (photographs of Asian art and architecture); American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) Collection (University of Michigan) (Southern Asian art and architecture); and Barbara Anello: Photographs of Southeast Asia and Morocco.

Collections that focus on important religious sites and architecture throughout Asia include: the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive (Buddhist cave shrines in Dunhuang, China); Shuilu’an Temple (Northwestern University) (Buddhist sculpture at Shuilu’an Temple in Lantian, China); Deepanjana Danda Klein and Arno Klein: Cave Temples at Ellora, India (Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain cave shrines in Ellora, India); Beyond the Taj: Architectural Traditions and Landscape Experience in South Asia (Cornell University Library); and Carl Strom and Jennifer Strom: Korean Buddhist Monasteries (Buddhist temple and monastery art in South Korea). For the Dunhuang caves and Shuilu-an Temple, ARTstor offers scholars and students unique visual documentation of the sites with high resolution digital photography and QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas.

EIZAN (Yeiseu?), Japanese, Two Women Writing c.1850. Asian Art Collection (Connecticut College, New London)

EIZAN (Yeiseu?), Japanese, Two Women Writing c.1850. Asian Art Collection (Connecticut College, New London)

And of course, Asian art is well represented in the Digital Library. Some notable examples include: Rob Linrothe: Tibetan and Buddhist Art collection; Seattle Art Museum (Asian art, including works from Japan, China, Korea, India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia); Asian Art Collection (Connecticut College) (Chinese and Japanese art); Asian Art Photographic Distribution (AAPD) (University of Michigan) (Chinese painting, sculpture, and decorative arts and Japanese painting and prints); The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Chinese ceramics);  and Yao Ceremonial Artifacts (Ohio University).

Artstor has also assembled 100 eclectic, iconic, and provocative images for our Sample Topic on Asian Art. To view all our Sample Topics, visit the Digital Library and click on “Featured Groups.”

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