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.
Blog Category: Highlights
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.
The end of the decade marks the beginning of our open access era
In 2019 we kicked off our Open Artstor initiative and began aggregating cross-disciplinary museum, library, and archive collections and making them available to all via Creative Commons licenses. We capped the year with the publication of three expansive and diverse collections.
During the nineteenth century the painting genre of the operating theater emerged — an arresting hybrid of fine art and the art of medicine. Highly specialized and hotly debated, its celebrated champion was the American artist Thomas Eakins, both appreciated and condemned for the realism which he brought most notably to his medical paintings. The Gross Clinic, 1875, and The Agnew Clinic, 1889, are his most monumental canvases among about 25 that feature medical practitioners. With an infusion of related imagery from two recently published collections Open Artstor: Wellcome Collection and Open Artstor: Science Museum Group, we may now probe these powerful and disquieting works with clinical precision.
The Gross Clinic depicts Dr. Samuel D. Gross, characterized as the “emperor of American surgery,” in his element at center stage directing his assistants who perform an operation on a patient’s thigh while he also addresses his students. A woman recoils at left, the only discordant note to his authority. The setting is Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, where the artist himself began to study medicine before choosing a future in art. On a canvas measuring about 8 x 6 feet, the figures approach life size.
Seize the season! Once again we have crossed the Thanksgiving threshold into full-blown festivities and the crescendo to the new year. In celebration of the prompt to eat, drink, and be merry, we would like to present some inspiring visions.
Let’s begin with the harvest itself, the basis of all feasts and the bountiful personification of Autumn by the Brescian Antonio Rasio, 1685-1695. In one of four allegorical paintings of the season, the whimsical poster boy for produce is nearly life size and he is composed of more than 20 edibles from mushrooms to pomegranates.
A unique offering from a second generation Abstract Expressionist
Art historian Robert Solomon has just contributed the Joseph Stapleton: Self-Portraits collection to the Artstor Digital Library. Below, he provides a perspective on the artist and his significant output of self-portrait drawings.
Joseph Stapleton (1921-1994) was one of an estimated 400 artists who poured into New York City’s Tenth Street area following the close of World War II. According to historian Irving Sandler, they were attracted to this specific location by the presence of, among others, Willem de Kooning’s studio. Sandler referred to this group of artists born between 1920 and 1930 as Abstract Expressionism’s second generation. Over the next twenty years this second generation would be impacted by a variety of economic and social influences. These conditions would produce only a handful of names we recognize today.
During the mid-nineteenth century, the Atlantic presented a new, rich and formidable frontier to American innovators who were laying the cables for the first transcontinental telegraph, to scientists capturing their first glimpses of aquatic life forms, and to artists exploring the hitherto unseen landscapes of the deep.
Decorative arts, which bridge the realms of fine art and function, often seem to highlight aristocratic tastes. These selections from The Clark’s collection, while valued for their craftsmanship and design, offer insights into the everyday lives of early Americans. These recent additions to the Artstor Digital Library also highlight a new interface in which multiple images of an object are grouped together, allowing users to access alternate views more easily.
The first selections were crafted by a familiar name from the Colonial period, Paul Revere. Although he is best known for his historic ride, he prided himself as a master artisan. Views of this Neoclassical sugar bowl illustrate his advanced skills and sense of design. The tea kettle, perhaps an early example of Revere Ware (see the embossed mark in detail), was a more common piece in colonial kitchens. It reminds us of tea’s importance to the colonists – which was also borne out by the infamous protest of the British tea tax, the Boston Tea Party. Revere was in sympathy with this cause; he captured some of the passions that led up to the rebellion in a famous engraving of the Boston Massacre. (1)