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Blog Category: Highlights

October 13, 2022

Painting for peace: Art exposes the cruelty of war

Peter Paul Rubens. Consequences of War. 1637-38. Oil on canvas. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.

The power of art to revile and denounce war may be seen in works that cross cultures and centuries. Artstor is replete with examples from the dynastic courts of Europe, to the witnesses of the American Civil War, both World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond. The selection below, featuring monumental and intimate interpretations, provides persuasive evidence of the passion for peace among artists.

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August 25, 2022

28 open collections for Hispanic Heritage Month

Artstor and JSTOR offer more than a 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:

Ruins of the Church and Convent building complex of San Francisco
Anthony Stevens Acevedo. Ruins of the Church and Convent building complex of San Francisco. 2011. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, First Blacks in the Americas collection.
Leslie Jiménez. All for All. 2012
Leslie Jiménez. All for All. 2012. CCNY CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Condition - My Place Our Longing / Condición: Mi Lugar Nuestro Anhelo collection. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.
Doris Rodriguez. Les Delices des Quatre Saisons I. 2011.
Doris Rodriguez. Les Delices des Quatre Saisons I. 2011. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Dominican Artists in the United States.

City College Dominican Library First Blacks in the Americas

(Artstor | JSTOR)
A history project devoted to disseminating research and rigorous information about the earliest people of Black African descent that arrived, resided, and stayed in the Americas from 1492 onwards, and whose continued presence in the New World ever since is clearly shown on historical records.

City College: Fighting for Democracy: Dominican Veterans from World War II

(Artstor | JSTOR)
A pioneering exhibit about courage, valor, and commitment consisting of 12 panels in which photographs, documents, correspondence, newspaper articles, and short biographies tell the stories of Dominicans that served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.

CCNY CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Condition – My Place Our Longing / Condición: Mi Lugar Nuestro Anhelo

(Artstor)
The art exhibit Condition: My Place Our Longing / Condición: Mi Lugar Nuestro Anhelo highlights the work of Dominican artists Leslie Jiménez and Julianny Ariza. It showcases original pieces produced between 2011 and 2012 that explore the subject of living in between, in two worlds, and other conditions of living.

CCNY CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Dominican Artists in the United States – Doris Rodríguez

(Artstor | JSTOR)
This collection focuses on the artist Doris Rodríguez, an artist and award-winning author and illustrator. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the US and her native Dominican Republic.

CCNY CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Dominican Artists in the United States – Josefina Báez

(Artstor | JSTOR)
This collection focuses on the artist Josefina Baez, storyteller, performer, writer, theater director, educator, and devotee. She is the founder of the Ay Ombe Theater.

CCNY CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Dominican Artists in the United States – Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful

(Artstor | JSTOR)
This collection focuses on the artist Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful, whose works gain permanence through audios, photographs, props, drawings, rumors, embodied memories, costumes, websites, videos and publications.

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July 13, 2022

Arkhip Kuindzhi: beloved son and painter of Ukraine

Arkhip Kuindzhi. The Rainbow. 1900-1905. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.

In 2018-2019 the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow hosted an acclaimed exhibition of the nineteenth-century realist landscape painter Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (c. 1842-1910). The show included about 180 works and was seen by more than 385,000 viewers during its four-month run. One of the paintings, a Crimean mountainscape, was even lifted off the wall and stolen, but happily it was soon recovered. Kuindzhi was born in the Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire) in the city of Mariupol, a name now familiar to all of us because of the current Russian invasion and devastation. While he studied, practiced, and taught painting in St. Petersburg, he also lived on a large property in Crimea with his wife in relative seclusion. In Mariupol, where a museum named after the artist was established in 2010, he is considered Ukrainian, while in Russia he is claimed as part of their artistic heritage.

Ilya Repin. Portrait of the Painter Arkhip Kuinji. 1877. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.

In March, the Mariupol museum was largely destroyed by an airstrike. The three important works by Kuindzhi had been removed—it’s unclear whether it was for safekeeping or they had been stolen—but the work of other artists was destroyed, the cultural casualty of war. Other artistic losses during the conflict include treasures of Scythian gold, the precious paintings of the naive painter Maria Pryimachenko, and dozens of historic buildings and monuments, among other works and sites.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Ladoga Lake. 1873. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Image and data from University of California, San Diego.
Arkhip Kuindzhi. On the Island of Valaam. 1873. Oil on canvas. Tretyakov Gallery. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.
Arkhip Kuindzhi. Evening in the Ukraine. 1878, partly repainted in 1901. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.
Arkhip Kuindzhi. 1879. Birch Grove. Oil on canvas. 1879. Tretyakov Gallery. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.
Arkhip Kuindzhi. Moonlit Night on the Dnieper. 1882. Oil on canvas. Tretyakov Gallery. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.

A search on Artstor provides a stirring selection of Kuindzhi’s paintings, a virtual exhibition to celebrate his sublime output. His dramatic personal appearance is well known from portraits, including the one by his friend Ilya Repin, highlighting the painter’s brooding countenance of Greek and Tatar origin. An early work by Kuindzhi, Ladoga Lake, 1873, completed soon after his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, portrays the majestic Russian landscape in precise, clean brushstrokes with a clarity that looks back to traditional seascapes. On the Island of Valaam from the same year and on the same lake, also presents meticulous detail and a pellucid atmosphere. Evening in the Ukraine displays the painter’s affection for his native landscape and his growing interest in light effects, particularly dusk and the full darkness of night. His alliance with the scientific community of St. Petersburg fuelled his interest in optical flourishes and theories of perception. Birch Grove, nearly six feet wide and painted when the artist was about 40, and Moonlit Night on the Dnieper, 1882, caused a sensation when they were exhibited for a month in Moscow during the winter of 1882 along with a third work; more than 9,000 viewers visited. The Emperor’s grandson Grand Duke Konstantinovich purchased the nocturne for 5,000 rubles, and it was later displayed at the gallery of the Parisian art dealer Charles Sedelmeyer. The painter also attracted the patronage of Pavel Tretyakov, who was amassing an unprecedented collection of Russian art, today known as the Tretyakov Gallery. At the height of this success, Kuindzhi mysteriously withdrew from public life and never held another exhibition, leaving no explanation behind. He taught at the Academy in St. Petersburg and died in the city in 1910.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Pasture at Night (Night-watch). 1905-08. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Image and data from SCALA, Florence.

Kuindzhi’s fascination with ephemeral atmospheric effects achieves a lyrical balance in his Rainbow, 1900-1905 (top), an homage to the steppe and the sky. Two of his final works, Night-Watch and Sunset on the Dnieper, both painted around 1905-1908, display his enduring passion for nocturnes. The overwhelming Sunset, more than six feet wide, is a window onto the painter’s cherished Dnieper and his brilliance at seizing the light.

Arkhip Kuindzhi. Red Sunset on the Dnieper. 1905-1908. Oil on canvas, Paintings. Image and data from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Free reuse CC0 1.0.

Many of Kuindzhi’s paintings and drawings are held at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. May his work endure as a mesmerizing expression of his rich cultural heritage – Greek, Tatar, Ukrainian, and Russian.

— Nancy Minty, collections editor


J.E. Bowlt. A Russian Luminist School? Arkhip Kuindzhi’s “Red Sunset on the Dnepr.Metropolitan Museum Journal, 10, 1975, 119–129.

Viktoria Paranyuk. Painting Light Scientifically: Arkhip Kuindzhi’s Intermedial Environment. Slavic Review, 2019.

Michael Prodger. How the Ukrainian painter Arkhip Kuindzhi laid out the spirituality in nature before Russian eyes, The New Statesman, 20 April 2022.

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April 11, 2022

Explore Earth Day with Artstor and JSTOR: Environmental Studies and the Biosphere

Ami Vitale. A field of blue… 2008. Photograph. © Ami Vitale / Panos Pictures.

In homage to Earth Day we have gathered a list of resources on the Artstor and JSTOR platforms, from licensed to freely available community-generated collections. We encourage you to explore this content — it combines art and science, enriching the study of the environment and the biosphere across the globe: photography from the microscopic to the panoramic, scientific and anatomical illustrations, evidence from surveys and studies, models, artists’ interpretations in varied media, the vision and work of conservationists, and the effects of our existence on this planet from millennia of cultivation and development to the threats of climate change.

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March 1, 2022

Genius has no gender*: Rethinking the Old Master moniker

Artemisia Gentileschi. Esther before Ahasuerus. Oil on canvas. Image and data from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Once upon a time–not so long ago–it seems that we believed that all the great pre-modern western painters were men! If not, why did we call them the Old Masters? The honorific derives from the masculine latin term magister meaning teacher, master, chief, coming from magis–more or greater. By definition and origin, the concept excludes women. Since the late 1900s the term has become so pervasive that a title search for old masters returns 74,000 + hits on WorldCat. Notwithstanding false results and the many auction catalogs, a lot of ink has been spilled on the Old Masters.

Seriously though, there have been many scholars, notably women, who have labored to dispel this myth. Beginning with the trailblazers Linda Nochlin’s “Why have there been no great women Artists?” and Old Mistresses, women art and ideology by Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker, the pendulum started to swing back and women artists began to take their rightful places. Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to revisit some of these “rediscovered” creators and their accomplishments. We already know their names: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Rosa Bonheur… Thankfully, they are celebrated today, and it’s always worth taking another look; after all, how many times have we lauded their counterparts the Old Masters? Of course, the current small selection under-represents women painters, but it is intended here as a temporal counterpart to the Old Masters and as an indication of far greater numbers. Apologies to the many artists unmentioned, particularly to contemporary figures.

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February 25, 2022

Illuminate Women’s History Month with Artstor and JSTOR

In celebration of Women’s History Month we have compiled a list of resources available on the Artstor/JSTOR platforms, from licensed to freely available community generated collections.

Bain News Service. Woman suffrage pageant. May 191. Photograph. Image and data from Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress).

We encourage you to explore the resources: photographic, graphic, and written accounts of the women’s suffrage, labor, and reproductive rights movements: the artistic output of female painters, sculptors, architects, designers, and craftswomen; the work and lives of women in science; photographs of women and by women, including a wide selection of portraits of literary luminaries, as well as of communities of women around the globe.

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January 24, 2022

Discover Black history with Artstor and JSTOR collections

In honor of Black History Month, we have consolidated a list of varied resources available on the Artstor/JSTOR platforms, from licensed collections to freely available community generated collections. We invite you to explore the resources – historic chronicles from manuscripts, newspapers, documents and recordings, the story of African American art told by the works themselves, photographic archives portraying the lives of celebrated African Americans and those we no longer know. Discover great works, official records, iconic portraits, ephemera and memorabilia in the collections below.

Josephine Baker, 1930s-1940s. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Riley, Anthony. Ecstasy Garage Disco, Feb. 14, 1981. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Heliton, Bob. Angela Davis smoking, 1968. Image and data from Stephan Loewentheil Photograph Collection, #8043. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Phase 2, Lonny Wood. Ecstasy Garage Disco, Nov. 27, 1980. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Lambert Center, Nov. 20, 1982. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Two women standing, early 20th century. Image and data from Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

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December 9, 2021

Celebrations of light

Samuel Palmer. The Harvest Moon. c. 1833

Samuel Palmer. The Harvest Moon. c. 1833. Image and data from the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

As the strength of the sun wanes in the fall, our festivities and rites tend to be centered on the elements of fire and light — natural, divine, and synthetic. It is no accident that many of our brightest celebrations light up our darkest months. Below, we have selected some images that collectively exalt the power of light to animate our revels.

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November 17, 2021

Giving thanks

Bob Gore. Giving Thanks, Terrier Rouge, Haiti. 10 Oct. ‘07. Image and data from Bob Gore Productions, Inc.

We are on the cusp of the holiday season, a quiet, delicious pause before the big rush — a time when we slow down to reflect and give thanks. In the spirit of A.A. Milne’s inimitable philosopher Piglet, we may recall our capacity for gratitude: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” In celebration of Thanksgiving, we are highlighting expressions of thanks through time and across the world.

John Biggers. Jubilee Ghana Harvest Festival. 1959-1963. Image and data from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © John T. Biggers Estate Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

A moment of grace bestills the bowed heads of three small Haitian girls captured by the photographer Bob Gore, while a swell of Ghanian women is moved by thankful joy during a Harvest Festival in a monumental painting by the African American artist John Biggers.

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