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Blog Category: Highlights

June 2, 2017

Being there: Robert Capa’s photographs of Omaha Beach on D-Day

Robert Capa. Normandy; Operation Overlord; German soldiers captured by American forces. 1944. ©ROBERT CAPA © 2001 By Cornell Capa / Magnum Photos

Robert Capa. Normandy; Operation Overlord; German soldiers captured by American forces. 1944. ©ROBERT CAPA © 2001 By Cornell Capa / Magnum Photos

The more than 350,000 photographs in the Artstor Digital Library are not only there for the study of art—they also tell stories of our past. One of the best examples is that of Robert Capa’s breathtaking photographs of Omaha Beach on D-day in German-occupied France on June 6, 1944.

That day Western Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in France and began the effort to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. The invasion was originally planned for May 1stbut was delayed due to bad weather. Finally, on June 6th, 156,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches—losing between 2,400 and 4,000 lives—and Robert Capa was there to capture it on camera.

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March 9, 2017

New ways of seeing Warhol – new collections in the Artstor Digital Library

Michael Hermann, Director of Licensing at The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, explains how the Foundation’s collections in the Artstor Digital Library provide a comprehensive view of Warhol’s cultural impact–as well as insight into his personal life.

Thirty years after his death, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Warhol’s life and work continue to inspire creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery, his artfully cultivated celebrity, and the ongoing research of dedicated scholars. His impact as an artist is far deeper and greater than soup cans and his prescient observation that “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture. The extensive Andy Warhol Foundation collections available on Artstor provide a thorough presentation of the prolific artist’s works in one place for the first time through more than 35,000* images inclusive of paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and photography spanning four decades.

The turbulent 1960s ignited an impressive and wildly prolific time in Warhol’s life which saw the production of many of Warhol’s most iconic works, including Campbell Soup Cans, Marilyn Monroes, Dollar Signs, Disasters, Brillo Boxes and Coca Cola Bottles. These familiar works are supplemented by a wide-ranging presentation of the provocative and ground-breaking works Warhol continued to create until his untimely death in 1987.

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December 15, 2016

Artstor searches highlight women

In in the vast, global virtual museum of the Artstor Digital Library, women are rising to the top. Our recent use statistics reveal that portraits and likenesses of the fairer sex (your interpretation…) dominate. The subject of women prevailed among the top 20 hits, with, you guessed it, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, c. 1505, his serene queen, as number one (more than 12,000 views), followed closely by the Venus of Willendorf, c. 30,000-25,000 B.C.E., and Manet’s Olympia, 1863, each a distinctive icon of a particular era.

Among our fine and plentiful selections from the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), Warhol’s silkscreens of Marilyn, 1967, arguably the modern Mona Lisa, topped the charts, prevailing over favorites by Pieter Bruegel I, Caspar David Friedrich, Jan van Eyck and Hans Holbein the Younger. At MoMA, another version, the Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962, figured among the top ten, and its shimmering ground recalls so many Byzantine and early Italian Madonnas, like Giotto’s Ognissanti Madonna, c. 1310, one of the most frequented images across all of our collections.

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December 14, 2016

The New York art world: the 2000s

Bruce Nauman; World Peace (Projected); 1996; Exhibited at Sperone Westwater Gallery, Fall 1996. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls; © 2009 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art surveys almost three decades of work exhibited in the New York area from 1988-2012. In this post, we consider the personalities and forces that dominated the art world in the 2000s. See also the 1980s and the 1990s.

The beginning of the 21st century was an especially auspicious time for the global arts community. While New York retained its place as a cultural capital, its standing in the world seemed buffeted by larger forces.

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December 13, 2016

The New York art world: the 1990s

The Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art surveys almost three decades of work exhibited in the New York area from 1988-2012. In this post, we consider the personalities and forces that dominated the art world in the 1990s. See also the 1980s and the 2000s.

As curator Gary Carrion-Murayari pointed out, the 1990s had a large influence on how we see art today.  “Some of the artists who were doing things that were shocking then, we take for granted now.”[1]

It was a turbulent time, as major institutions were upended. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. A stock market crash set off a recession keenly felt in the art market. New York gallery owner Mary Boone, named “The New Queen of the Art Scene” in the eighties, reflected on the downturn in 1992. “Value in everything is being questioned,” she said. “The psychology in the 80’s was excess; in the 90’s, it’s about conservation.”[2]

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November 10, 2016

Dada: 100 years of absurdity and radical politics

Our friends at JSTOR Daily remind us that this year marks the centennial of the cacophonous beginnings of the Dada movement in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire.

An anarchic response to the ravages of World War I, the movement is notoriously difficult to pin down. Matthew Wills writes, “Dada combined absurdity and nonsense, radical politics and anti-politics, outrage and outrageousness in the mediums of spoken (more often shouted) word, theatre, collage, photomontage, cut-ups, assemblages, and readymades…”

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November 10, 2016

On the origin of Veterans Day

Armistice Day became Veterans Day in the United States in 1954. While the holiday is also known as Remembrance Day in other countries and celebrates the end of World War I, the name change in the United States reflects its emphasis on honoring military veterans.

The two objectives were mentioned in a speech on the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1919, by President Woodrow Wilson:

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October 21, 2016

The lighter side of presidential campaigns

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956

Donkey-Elephant Display Base, ca. 1956. Cornell University Library, Rare & Manuscript Collections, Susan H. Douglas Political Americana Collection

Take a deep breath, the presidential debates are finally over. But brace yourselves, we still have a couple of weeks of campaigning left until the actual elections. Why the negative tone? Well, the Washington Post reported that “59 percent of Americans are sick and tired of the election”–and that was way back in July! And we’re not just sick and tired, we’re also stressed: in a more recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults said the upcoming election is a significant source of stress.

Can we interest you in a tour of more innocent days from Cornell University’s Political Americana Collection in Artstor’s public collections? Days in which campaigns featured such lighthearted items as songs like “Grant is the Man,” promoting Ulysses S. Grant, or “Let’s O-K, I-K-E,” about Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

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June 27, 2016

Some reassuring news for Shark Week

Paleontology staff posing with Fossil Shark Jaws. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History, Anthropology Department, American Museum of Natural History

Paleontology staff posing with Fossil Shark Jaws. Image and original data provided by Library, American Museum of Natural History, Anthropology Department, American Museum of Natural History

These photographs of six members of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Paleontology staff sitting inside the massive jaws of a Carcharocles megalodon are the stuff of nightmares—and, of course, just the thing for Shark Week.

Yet, as Brian Switek writes on ScienceBlogs, they’re the result of a miscalculation. “[T]he famous jaws were reconstructed by assuming that the teeth of the extinct shark would have had the same proportions to the jaw as in the living great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), yielding a maw that would have fit a shark 100 feet long or more.”

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April 28, 2016

Artistry on the high seas: Captain Cook’s artists

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769

Sydney Parkinson, Family: Carcharhinidae Genus/Species: Prionace glauca, 1769. Image and original data provided by Natural History Museum, London.

On his famous three voyages to the South Seas, British explorer Captain James Cook charted the largely unexplored Pacific Ocean, achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and completed the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. But Cook’s nautical feats are only part of the story; of equal importance are the contributions made by the artists who went along on his journeys, risking their lives–and sometimes losing them–to illustrate the animals and plants they encountered for science and posterity. Here are their stories.

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