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Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Category

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.

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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 to everyone through Shared Shelf.

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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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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Jean-Michel Basquiat; Gastruck; 1984; Exhibited at Pace Gallery, Spring 2010. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls; © 2014 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society, New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat; Gastruck; 1984; Exhibited at Pace Gallery, Spring 2010. Image and original data provided by Larry Qualls; © 2014 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society, 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 1980s. See also the 1990s and the 2000s

Quall’s collection opens during the hurly-burly of the 1980s, the era of Reaganomics and Wall Street’s “greed is good,” and the rise of AIDS. It was also a time when the booming stock market transformed street artists into superstars.  

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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 Shared Shelf Commons? 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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Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company; The Ghost in the stereoscope; 1856 - 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl

Hablot Knight Browne, The London Stereoscopic Company. The Ghost in the stereoscope, 1856 – 1859. Image and original data provided by Rijksmuseum: http://www.rijksmuseum.nl

In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.

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