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Funeral of a Patron, 1st century CE, Musée du Louvre. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Renowned photojournalist Erich Lessing passed away on August 29th in Vienna, Austria at the age of 95.

A member of Magnum Photos and a former Associated Press photographer, he began his career photographing political events before switching his focus to cultural subjects. (more…)

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A brief history of Majolica

George Jones.

George Jones. “Punch” Bowl. 1870-1880. Image and original data provided by Majolica International Society.

“Majolica” is the word used to denote the brightly colored, low-fired earthenware commercially introduced by the Minton Company at the 1851 London Exhibition of All Nations. This was in accordance with Herbert Minton’s long-held desire to capture the market of the newly emergent Middle Class. Majolica, a Victorian phenomenon, was a huge success at the Crystal Palace and soon became a worldwide fad, with factories on three continents and Australia to satisfy the buying craze it had inspired. Deborah English, Librarian, The Marilyn Karmason Majolica Reference Library of the Majolica International Society (MIS), has provided a history of the wares to celebrate the addition of the MIS collection to the Artstor Digital Library.

Staffordshire potters first developed lead glazes of green and brown in the 18th Century, but it was not until Herbert Minton of Stoke-on-Trent brought the French chemist Leon Arnoux to England, that more vibrant colors began to appear. This was possible, thanks to Mr. Arnoux’s previous work with the sumptuous porcelain glazes of Sèvres. Mr. Arnoux also persuaded several prominent French sculptors to join him at Minton, including A.E. Carrier-Belleuse, Paul Comolera, and Pierre Emile Jeannest. They joined the already formidable staff that Mr. Minton had built, including Alfred Lord Stevens, Baron Carlo Marochetti, John Bell, A.W.N. Pugin, and others. Mr. Minton formally introduced his new ware at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, even though English potters and English-born potters in the USA had been working on the formulas for some time. Arnoux’s saturated colors were the radical boost the new material needed. It soon happened that an astonishing number of forms evolved, sometimes in bizarre combinations.
(more…)

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Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Blue Armchair. 1878. The National Gallery of Art

Mary Cassatt. Little Girl in a Blue Armchair. 1878. The National Gallery of Art

From the wild wolves of our ancestors to today’s lap dogs, canines have played an important role in the lives of humans. They helped hunters find food, they served as entertainment, and they provided emotional support. And they were artist’s models. Art history is filled with works featuring the image of a dog. The Native Americans had vessels shaped into dog form, medieval manuscripts featured dogs, and numerous Renaissance paintings feature a rogue dog or two.

Echoing many other aspects of France in the 19th century, including fashion and interior design, dogs became customizable as well, and at times were imported from other countries. And at the same time as dogs entered the home, so did artists: bourgeois and modern life became the subject of art as the number of domesticated dogs and breeds grew. (more…)

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John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778. Image: Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778. Image: Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington

On a warm day in 1749, 14-year-old Brook Watson dove into Havana Harbor for a swim. As he floated surrounded by merchant ships, a shark sank its teeth into his leg, pulling him beneath the waves in a vicious, sustained attack that severed his right foot. Bleeding and helpless, he struggled to stay above water as a group of sailors maneuvered a small skiff into position and pulled him from the toothy Behemoth’s mouth. His leg would have to be amputated at the knee, but he survived his ordeal. Nearly thirty years after the incident, John Singleton Copley historicized Watson’s attack in the monumental painting Watson and the Shark.

(more…)

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South America: the Land of Opportunity. A Continent of Scenic Wonders. A Paradise for the Tourist. General Information for Travelers, Detail. Lamport & Holt Line. 1912. Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection

South America: the Land of Opportunity. A Continent of Scenic Wonders. A Paradise for the Tourist. General Information for Travelers, Detail. Lamport & Holt Line. 1912. Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection

Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Mode Collection is a physical and digital open access collection of maps donated to Cornell University Library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections. This collection brings together maps from many eras from all over the world to explore their power as visual messengers. 

Following up on our interview in which he shares the origin of the collection, collector and donor PJ Mode shares a selection of his favorite pieces.

(more…)

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Harriet Powers. Pictorial quilt. 1895-98. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Harriet Powers. Pictorial quilt. 1895-98. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

When the second wave feminist movement in the 1970s brought domestic art into the discussion of art history, textiles became a central topic. This led to the rediscovery of Harriet Powers, whose two surviving quilts currently hang in the Smithsonian and in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Powers, born a slave in Georgia in 1837, created the quilts after she was emancipated. She made use of appliqué techniques and storytelling often found in the textiles of Western Africa. While these textiles had typically been created by men, once the tradition was picked up in the United States women became the primary creators.

Powers became significant in academic circles more than half a century after her death as an exemplar of the influence and power of women’s domestic art and art inspired by traditions outside the Western canon, showing not only this type of art’s historical purpose and importance but its aesthetic influence and significance.

(more…)

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Editor’s note: this post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated to reflect Artstor’s platform changes.

We invited Marta Chudolinska, Learning Zone Librarian at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, to tell us about the collection of zines they are making openly available via Artstor’s public collections. You can view the collection in Artstor here.

The OCAD U Zine Library is an ever-growing collection of self-published and handmade objects located in the Learning Zone at OCAD University. The Library contains an incredible range of zines (pronounced “zeen,” as in magazine), in terms of subject matter and form. Zines are a very flexible medium – they can be about anything that the creator wishes, often incredibly personal, political, or conceptual, and production can range from the cheapest, easiest options, such as photocopiers, to finely crafted, handmade approaches such as screen printing or letterpress.

The collection was started by former student Alicia Nauta in November of 2007 with hopes to inspire, educate and entertain, to encourage collaboration between OCAD U students and to open up the world of zines for readers and creators everywhere. When Alicia graduated, maintenance and development of the collection were continued by OCAD University Library staff. In 2009-2010, reference interns Laine Gabel and Marta Chudolinska devised a unique cataloging system based on best practices identified from other zine libraries and zine communities, which was later expanded to meet zine library cataloging standards as established by zine librarians across Canada and the US as xZINECOREx. (more…)

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