Alberto Giacometti moved from his native Switzerland to Paris as a young man in 1922 and lived there almost uninterruptedly until his death in 1966. He fell in love with the city and enjoyed wandering through its streets aimlessly, relishing the unexpected adventures that would ensue, like meeting fellow flâneurs such as Jean-Paul Sartre or Samuel Beckett, or even being struck by a car – an accident that led him to walk with a cane for years afterwards, but one that he credited as a positive turning point in his life.
Blog Category: Highlights
Tradition holds that on Halloween the walls between the worlds of the living and the dead weaken and spirits walk the earth. More recently, the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer combined this concept with the medieval motif of the hellmouth. In the show, the hellmouth is a weak place between dimensions that attracts demons and other supernatural creatures. If it were ever to open it would signal the end of the world. Suitably inspired, we ventured to explore the theme in the ARTstor Digital Library. A simple keyword search for hellmouth led us to an array of spooky artworks dating from the 11th century to the 17th century.
It’s October, which gives us a great excuse to feature a spooky post featuring skulls! Specifically, their appearance in the still lifes known as Vanitas.
Vanitas depict objects that remind us of our mortality and the transience of earthly pleasures. Popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in Northern Europe and the Netherlands, the genre continues to inspire artists to the present day – the Artstor Digital Library includes four terrific examples of Andy Warhol’s Skulls from the Baltimore Museum of Art, and you’ve most likely heard of Damien Hirst’s “For the love of God,” a diamond-encrusted platinum skull reputed to be the world’s most expensive art piece.
Happy Mother’s Day! The holiday is celebrated in May in dozens of countries around the world. In honor of mothers everywhere, we have assembled our favorite mother and child images from the Digital Library spanning a wide variety of cultures and eras.
May is the month to celebrate the heritage of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The cultures, history, religion, architecture, and art of the continent of Asia are well represented in the ARTstor Digital Library, and you can find a full guide in our ARTstor Is… Asian Studies post; resources for Asian-Pacific content are also plentiful, but scattered throughout many collections and require a little more diligence.
A quick way to find content in the Digital Library from a specific country is by going to the Browse area in the lower left corner of the search page and clicking Geography. Considering that Asia-Pacific encompasses the Pacific islands of Melanesia (Fiji, New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu), Micronesia (Guam, Kiribati, Marianas, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Wake Island), and Polynesia (American Samoa and Samoa, Cook Islands, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Hawaiian Islands, Midway Island, New Zealand, Rotumas, Tonga, and Tuvalu), this might be a little time consuming, so here are some hints:
The main repositories of Asian-Pacific images in ARTstor include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features art and artifacts from many of the regions listed above, the Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University), which has archaeological and ethnographic objects, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University), which has anthropological objects, and Magnum Photos, which includes contemporary photographs of New Guinea by Burt Glinn and Philip Jones Griffiths, of the Marshall Islands by Chris Steele-Perkins, Samoa by Alex Webb, the Cook Islands by Trent Parke, and Easter Island by Thomas Hoepker.
Also of note is Cook’s Voyages to the South Seas (Natural History Museum, London), which includes 1,600 images of botanical and zoological illustrations associated with Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the South Pacific in the 18th century, and Thomas K. Seligman: Photographs of Liberia, New Guinea, Melanesia and the Tuareg people which, as its title states, includes field photography of New Guinea and Melanesia. Also fruitful, The Native American Art and Culture (National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution) includes a dozen fascinating photographs of Fiji in 1900 by Charles Haskins Townsend, and the Fowler Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art Collection, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Smith College Museum of Artall include art and artifacts from different cultures in Asia Pacific.
And don’t miss Teaching with ARTstor: Re-historicizing Contemporary Pacific Island Art by Marion Cadora, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Enjoy the celebrations and don’t forget to visit the Library of Congress’ official Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month site!
Happy Jazz Appreciation Month! While the attributes of jazz are difficult to describe without getting technical, the key element that ties together its many sub-genres, from swing to bebop to avant-garde, is improvisation—or as Louis Armstrong put it, “Jazz is music that’s never played the same way once.”
Black History Month is observed every February in the United States and Canada. What better time to remind our readers of the many excellent resources on the topic available in the Artstor Digital Library?
Image of the Black in Western Art A systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in Western art spanning nearly 5,000 years.
Magnum Photos: Contemporary Photojournalism Some of the most celebrated and recognizable photographs of the 20th century and contemporary life, documenting an astounding range of subjects, including hundreds of major figures and events in contemporary black history.
Eugene James Martin Vibrant abstract works by African American artist Eugene James Martin, including paintings on canvas, mixed media collages, and pencil and pen and ink drawings.
The Schlesinger History of Women in America Collection Professional and amateur photographs documenting the full spectrum of activities and experiences of American women in the 19th and 20th centuries, including a significant amount of portraits of African American women.
Smithsonian American Art Museum Works of art spanning over 300 years of American art history, including selections from a collection of more than 2,000 works by African American artists.
African art and culture:
Richard F. Brush Art Gallery (St. Lawrence University) West African textiles from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Cape Verde.
Herbert Cole: African Art, Architecture, and Culture (University of California, Santa Barbara) Field photography of African art, architecture, sites, and culture from Nigeria, Ghana, the Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Kenya, as well as photographs of African objects in private collections around the world.
James Conlon: Mali and Yemen Sites and Architecture Images of sites and architecture in Djenné, Mopti, Bamako, Segou, and the Dogon Region in Mali.
Fowler Museum (University of California, Los Angeles) The arts of many African nations, including Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The museum also has significant holdings of African diaspora arts from Brazil, Haiti, and Suriname.
Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University Images of African art, such as textiles, costumes, basket and beadwork, weapons, tools, and ritual objects.
Christopher Roy: African Art and Field Photography Images of West African art and culture, including ceremonial objects and documentation of their social context, use, and manufacture from the rural villages and towns of the Bobo, Bwa, Fulani, Lobi, Mossi, and Nuna peoples in West Africa—primarily in Burkina Faso, but also in Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger.
Thomas K. Seligman: Photographs of Liberia, New Guinea, Melanesia, and the Tuareg people Images of the Tuareg people, a nomadic people of the Sahara who live in countries such as Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, as well as photographs of sites and people in Liberia, New Guinea, and Melanesia.
For more teaching ideas, visit the Digital Library and click on “Teaching Resources,” where you can search for image groups that include Art History Topic: African Art and Interdisciplinary Topics: African and African-American Studies, as well as a case study, “Sweet Fortunes: Sugar, Race, Art and Patronage in the Americas” by Katherine E. Manthorne, The City University of New York. Also, visit Artstor’s Subject Guides page to download a guide to African and African-American Studies in Artstor.
New: Artstor and Black History Month, featuring additional resources!
Two things have been tearing through the Artstor staff recently – a nagging cold that seems to be felling us department by department, and a fascination with the British television show Downton Abbey.
The series follows the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants in a fictional Yorkshire country estate. The first season is set before the outbreak of World War I, beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic, while the second series opens with the Great War. The Artstor Digital Library has enough relevant images to keep us busy until the next episode: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an impressive collection of turn of the century furniture and household accessories, such as this mahogany desk designed by Mervyn Macartney, as well as dazzling examples of dresses, hats (including a “motoring” cap!), shoes, and accessories from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes, including these ever-so-tasteful satin evening shoes; the Foundation for Landscape Studies features images of Le Bois des Moutiers, an extraordinary Edwardian era-garden designed by English landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens; the Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection gives us this beautiful printed fabric from William Morris; and of course there are countless examples of art from the period (we chose a painting of Lila Lancashire by Sir John Lavery from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston because it reminds us of Lady Edith Crawley). And while we weren’t able to find Downton Abbey itself (actually the Highclere Castle in Hampshire), a search for castle within Brian Davis: Architecture in Britain leads to a satisfying selection of similarly imposing buildings.
Let us know if you find anything else in the Artstor Digital Library that reminds you of Downton Abbey or its characters – but please, no spoilers!
The Artstor staff is hurrying to wrap up projects before the long Thanksgiving weekend that starts this Thursday. The holiday is officially celebrated in the United States every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
Continuing our spooky Day of the Dead/Halloween theme, we now present you with a slide show of the Danse Macabre. The Dance of Death was an allegory that began in the Middle Ages (possibly in response to the ravages of the black plague) in which death dances with people from all walks of life; it was meant to remind us that no matter our social station, life is fleeting and death inevitable.
The etchings in this slide show were made in the mid-18th century by Jacques-Antony Chovin based on prints by Matthäus Merian from a century before. They come to us from the Harry Ransom Center (University of Texas at Austin). Search for Chovin’s name in the ARTstor Digital Library to see the accompanying text, which includes dialogues between death and her victims.
Looking for more creepy stuff? Try these posts: