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Blog Category: Highlights

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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August 11, 2021

Back to the museums

If you haven’t yet ventured back to your preferred museums, now is the time. Summer is coming to an end and the pandemic has deprived us of months of museum-going pleasure — reward yourself. We have assembled a list of some eye-catching exhibitions for the coming year. We’ll begin with a couple that are ending soon:

Jacob Lawrence. We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…. 1955. Painting. Image and data from the Harvard Art Museums. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle
The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., June 26-September 19, 2021

Most of the 30 original panels from Jacob Lawrence’s series on the American Revolution have been reunited for this exhibition that has toured several museums. The artist conceived and executed the paintings during the mid-1950s as the Civil Rights Movement grew and his interpretation incorporated the actions of enslaved Black people as part of the arc of American history.

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June 16, 2021

Celebrating Juneteenth with quilts: sewing freedom, unity, and joy

Photograph of cotton quilt

America Irby. Quilt. Image and data from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

We was taught there’s so many different ways to build a quilt. It’s like building a house. You can start with a bedroom over there, or a den over here, and just add on until you get what you want. Ought not two quilts ever be the same. You might use exactly the same material, but you would do it different. A lot of people make quilts just for your bed, for to keep you warm. But a quilt is more. It represents safekeeping, it represents beauty, and you could say it represents family history. 1

Mensie Lee Pettway (b. 1939), on learning her craft from her mother America Irby.

Jennie Pettway and another girl with quilter Jorena Pettway

Arthur Rothstein. Jennie Pettway and another girl with the quilter Jorena Pettway. 1937. Image and data from The Library of Congress.

Romare Howard Bearden. Quilting Time. 1985. Image and data from the Detroit Institute of Art. Art © Estate of Romare Bearden / Licensed by VAGA, New York.

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, and we are celebrating with a virtual exhibition of African American quilts. June 19 observes and renews the call for freedom, justice, and equality in the African American community. From the period of slavery through emancipation and up to current times, the activities and output of quilters have embodied strength, bound the community, and bestowed beauty and warmth, echoing the spirit of the holiday. An archival photograph of two generations of the Pettway family sewing together, 1937, and the mosaic mural Quilting Time, 1986, by Romare Bearden attest to the community building/family bonding attributes of the tradition.

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June 3, 2021

Broadening horizons: Artstor collections 2020-2021

Tang Dynasty. Tomb guardian. early 700s. Glazed earthenware. Image and data from The Cleveland Museum of Art. CC0 1.0.

Extending our cultural scope and disciplinary reach

We are working to add new collections that extend Artstor’s cultural scope and disciplinary reach. This includes African, African American, and Asian content, and content in disciplines such as social justice and human geography, environmental studies, public health, and natural sciences. New additions centered on this growing diversity include: Barbara Anello: Khmer Sites; Arthur Szyk; Brooklyn Museum; Magnum Photos, and more.

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May 4, 2021

Spring into Artstor

Painting of field

Grant Wood. Spring turning. 1936. Oil on masonite. Image and data from Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Welcome to all new participants and welcome back to old friends. For a quick refresher on tips and tools, new content, and our growth at Artstor, check out these handy resources to get the lay of the land:

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April 13, 2021

Pleasurable and daunting: a wife’s work on her late husband’s archive

Art Historian Magda Salvesen, author of Artists’ Estates: Reputations in Trust, writes about the emotional aspect of her work as the curator of the estate of her husband, the American painter Jon Schueler.

Jon Schueler. Next Summer. 1966. Oil on canvas. Image and data from the Jon Schueler Estate.

“Art must take reality by surprise,” the writer Françoise Sagan said in a 1965 interview. With the arrival of Covid-19, however, I have frequently found myself considering the reversal of these terms.

The sudden closure of a Jon Schueler exhibition in March 2020, two postponements of other shows, the absence of studio visits by potential clients or gallery reps, and the inability of my assistants to return any time soon ironically created what I had long desired: open time, month after month, to work on the Jon Schueler Archive.

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April 6, 2021

A is for Animal: A is for April and the prevention of cruelty

Artstor is offering up a beastly alphabet in observance of this month, dedicated by the ASPCA to the prevention of cruelty to animals. You may be surprised at the creatures we can conjure.

A is for Anteater long in the nose

B is for Bear who wanders the globe

C is for Cat, because it must be

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March 3, 2021

Witnessing Women’s History

Young women with sign 'Self Supporting Women.'

Unknown. Young women with sign ‘Self Supporting Women.’ May, 1914. Gelatin silver print. Image and data from The Schlesinger History of Women in America Collection.

In 1909, we honored the first International Women’s Day. That day has extended from a week to a month in many countries – the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. In celebration of this hopeful rite of March, we have identified some of the resources, both licensed and public, that Artstor provides on the inspiring topic of women.

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February 17, 2021

The secret lives of cats

Throughout the months of lockdown our beloved felines have enhanced the quality of our diminished lives, and we, in turn, have come to know them a little better. A tribute to our cats is overdue (recently, we acknowledged our canine companions). My colleagues have generously shared portraits of their best feline friends and we have taken the liberty of juxtaposing them to works represented in Artstor.

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