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.”
Blog Category: Highlights
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:
The initial entry of our new Focus series presents a chronicle of the telephone using some of the numerous collections in the Artstor Digital Library that center on history.
By Lucy Sawyer
Autumn has arrived in New York City and there are signs of it everywhere. The leaves are turning shades of red, orange, and gold, and when I stroll under the trees I look out for acorns falling. Outside of the city the changes are more striking. Before long the leaves will be piling up.
When I think of fall, I picture vivid colors and dramatic light. Different artists come to mind, but one of my favorites is Vincent Van Gogh because of his use of color and his bold brushstrokes. Last year I got the opportunity to see some of his works in person at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and I keep a few postcards of his work posted up next to my computer.
This particular work by Van Gogh was painted on a cold day in November in Sainte-Rémy in southern France. He painted the golden leaves of the large plane trees and the laborers working beneath them on a piece of cheap linen fabric; zoom into the image in ARTstor to see the pattern of red diamonds on the linen showing through where the paint is thinner. It is fantastic to see these types of details in a work by an artist I truly enjoy.
What other images make you think of fall?
It’s been several years since the attacks on 9/11, but the events refuse to be confined to history. They continue to shape life and discourse in New York City, the United States, and the world, and the subject touches on disciplines as varied as social studies, journalism, political science, international relations, religious studies, economics, and civics. The Artstor Digital Library offers extraordinary images that provide many angles through which this complex episode can be considered.
Dozens of images of the attack on the World Trade Center are available in the Magnum Photos collection, which also includes photographs of New York City in the following days and subsequent commemorations such as the Tribute of Light at Ground Zero on the second anniversary of the attacks. The collection also features magnificent views of the World Trade Center from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The event and its ensuing developments brought forth a wide range of reactions; these are represented in the Digital Library with works by contemporary artists, from the elegiac National Tribute Quilt in the American Folk Art Museum to searingly critical pieces by renowned political artist Hans Haacke in Contemporary Art (Larry Qualls Archive).
There are also glimmers of wonder among the many solemn images. A particularly touching piece is a Mexican retablo commissioned in gratitude for the survival of a loved one who was working in the Twin Towers during the attack.
A rallying economy led the United Arab Emirates cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai through a six-year building boom that transformed sand dunes into futuristic cityscapes boasting the world’s tallest building, biggest shopping mall, and The World, a man-made archipelago in the shape of the seven continents. While the building frenzy has largely been tamed by the international economic crisis, the projects it engendered have significantly expanded the vocabulary of contemporary architecture.
In their most recent Artstor-sponsored campaign, Art on File photographers Colleen Chartier and Rob Wilkinson documented state-of-the-art projects in Dubai such as Burj Khalifa (Skidmore, Owings and Merrell), the world’s tallest building; the Meydan Racecourse (TAK architects), the longest building in the world; the Burj al-Arab (Tom Wright of Atkins), a hotel constructed on an artificial island; the Dubai Marina (Emaar Properties), a man-made marina district; and the Rose Tower (Khatib & Alami Group), the world’s tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. In Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Chartier and Wilkinson photographed the new Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Yousef Abdelki, architect, and Halcrow Group, engineers), an enormous project that can accommodate up to 44,000 people for prayer sessions, and the Yas Hotel (Asymptote Architects), which features a Formula One racetrack that passes through the hotel, and a net-like roof consisting of thousands of light panels that change colors. Other buildings in the new campaign include Capital Gate (RMJM Architects), the largest leaning tower in the world, Al Jazira Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, and the new Ferrari World (Benoy Architects), a low undulating design with a roof surface of 200,000 sq. meters still under construction. See the Art on File collection in the Digital Library: http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/artonfile
Art on File’s UAE collection joins more than 300,000 images of architecture and the built environment in the Digital Library. Explore everything from archaeological sites such as Rome’s Colosseum in the Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives) collection or the Parthenon on the Acropolis in the Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives), to modern masterpieces such as Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Public Art (Art on File Collection) or architectural models by Le Corbusier in The Museum of Modern Art, Architecture and Design Collection.
Browse more than 50 collections focused on architecture, including Sites and Photos: archaeological and architectural sites in the Middle East and Europe (30,037 images); Mellon International Dunhuang Archive: Buddhist cave shrines in Dunhuang, China (72,00 images and 24 QTVR files); American Institute of Indian Studies: Indian art and architecture (60,000 images); Columbia University’s QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture (1,280 files); MoMA Architecture and Design: 20th century architectural drawings and models (6,949 images); Ezra Stoller Archive (Esto): Modern architecture (14,548 images); Canyonlights World Art Image Bank: Archaeological and architectural sites in the United States and Europe (4,500 images); and SAHARA: Society of Architectural Historians Architecture Resources Archive (8,991 images).
In addition, search “QTVR” to discover nearly 1,300 QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture from Columbia University, including sites such as the Doge’s Palace in Venice or temples and shrines in Kyoto.
Learn more about the Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Public Art (Art on File Collection) and download Artstor’s Subject Guide on Architecture and the Built Environment (PDF: 300 KB).