Needless to say, 2020 has been a year like no other, and it’s marked everything we did at Artstor. We tried to help institutions and students meet the challenges of remote teaching, released new content — with a strong emphasis on freely accessible Open Artstor collections — and tried to brighten things up on our blog. Here are some of our highlights from a very difficult year and one thing we look forward to next year.
Blog Category: Highlights
The Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel presents the Tudor court in arresting, vivid prose1. Nonetheless, the temptation to illustrate Mantel’s account is irresistible given her invocation of the painter “Hans” (the actual historical figure of Hans Holbein the Younger, 1497/8-1543). He appears frequently in her narrative and is her acknowledged muse: Simply put, in the author’s own words: “He [Holbein] peoples the early Tudor court for us.”2 Since Holbein the Younger was so prolific and precise as a portraitist,3 his likenesses provide a visual Who’s Who to Mantel’s narrative. Below, we have coupled some of Holbein’s most penetrating portrayals of the key players with the descriptions of the author.
“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.”
— Susan B. Anthony
As the United States holds its 2020 presidential elections, we rounded up a selection of images that reflect the importance of voting–throughout history and around the world. We encourage you to cast a vote and make your voice heard.
Artstor has published nearly 42,000 images from the U. S. National Library of Medicine’s Images from the History of Medicine, freely available to all for reuse under the Creative Commons Public Domain mark. Open Artstor: Images from the History of Medicine (National Library of Medicine) is part of an initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform.
September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. While the name might currently be the focus of some debate, we welcome the reminder to explore and celebrate the vibrant cultures of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Hispanic Caribbean. The Artstor Digital Library offers many collections that specialize in or are substantially devoted to Latin American topics; here is a selection to get you started.
Not surprisingly, Artstor is strong in collections concentrating on the arts of Latin America, such as Jacqueline Barnitz: Modern Latin American Art (University of Texas at Austin), which features modern art from Mexico and ten other Caribbean, Central, and South American countries; and Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, including colonial, modern, and contemporary Latin American art.
By now you know that Artstor’s Public Collections provide approximately 1.3 million freely accessible images and other materials from library special collections, faculty research, and institutional history materials. The collections are constantly growing, and as we browsed for Latin American content in preparation for Hispanic Heritage Month, we were delighted by what we found. Here are some notable highlights:
Wofford College: The Lindsay Webster Collection of Cuban Posters
The collection features approximately 350 works created in Cuba from the revolution through the 2000s. Many of the posters focus on Cuba’s efforts to spread messages of the revolution worldwide and to inspire others in the fight against oppression stemming from the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, as well as posters focused on promoting Cuban national pride, conservation, production, and culture.
Dartmouth: Ediciones Vigia Collection
In 1985, a Cuban poet Alfredo Zaldivar and an artist Rolando Estevez established a literary forum for a group of Cuban artists in Matanzas, Cuba and called it Ediciones Vigía. For over twenty years now the goal for these artists has been to create beautiful handmade books. Through all of the social and political shifts, and even a severe paper shortage, the artists have found ways to create works of enormous artistry, imagination, and creativity by using found and recycled materials.
When tasked with explaining my cultural heritage I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation; the term “Hispanic” captures such a wide spectrum of people and cultures. Plus, in a year of high racial tensions and unrest I worry that I am not being sensitive or inclusive to all my brown and black brothers and sisters.
There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.
— Albert Camus, The Plague, 1948
The rapid rise of the COVID-19 pandemic1 is a stark reminder that humanity is still susceptible to infectious diseases. Despite the successes of modern medicine, communicable diseases continue to impact our health, our economies, and our communities.
We at Artstor/ITHAKA are so devoted to our canines that we share a dogspotting channel that provides a steady stream of engaging pictures. During the crisis, as we isolate with our pets, the photos and anecdotes have proliferated. In tribute to our best friends who delight and support us during this time, we would like to highlight a few of our furry colleagues. Since this is Artstor, the temptation to call up artistic alter egos is irresistible so we are presenting our companions alongside their kindred spirits in art (perhaps more in essence than in precise likeness). No disrespect intended, since a comparison to a dog is the highest form of praise!
Enzo, in a rare moment, stands still was the catalyst (sorry dogs) for this approach. His quizzical, unsparing stare immediately conjured the bespectacled gaze of the great French painter Jean-Siméon Chardin, an artist who, in fact, featured dogs in several works.
Missing your favorite museums? Let us reveal them to you remotely. Artstor offers comprehensive coverage of the collections of well over 100 international museums and galleries through various accesses—ranging from fully public, from our community collaborators, as well as Open Artstor collections with works entirely in the public domain—to selections in the Artstor Digital Library that are available to subscribing institutions and their members.