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Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Category

Bhaja Caves, Caves 6 & 7; 2nd c. BCE-1st c. CE; Maharashtra, India. Image and original data provided by David Efurd © David Efurd

Bhaja Caves, Caves 6 & 7; 2nd c. BCE-1st c. CE; Maharashtra, India. Image and original data provided by David Efurd © David Efurd

Professor David Efurd’s collection of nearly 10,000 photographs of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain art and architecture was recently released in the Artstor Digital Library. We were particularly impressed by the variety and complexity of the rock-cut cave temples he photographed, and he was kind enough to answer our questions.

Artstor: What is the importance of caves as the sites of some of these temples, as opposed to more typical, free-standing temples?

David Efurd: Regarding Buddhist caves, monks appear to have lived in natural caves and rock-shelters since the time of the Buddha. In fact, texts describe the Buddha as spending nights in caves at a variety of locations in northeastern India. Over time, simple shelters were enlarged by cutting away stone, and masonry walls may have been added to the front to make them more architectural.

In western India, these Buddhist sites are a bit later, perhaps dating from the second century BC at the earliest. Unlike the caves the Buddha lived in, they do not appear to be natural caves that were enlarged. Rather, they were carved deeply into outcroppings of stone or cliffs and tend to be architectonic, meaning that they resemble the interior spaces of architecture, despite being hewn into stone. Few free-standing buildings and monasteries from this period survive, so these caves provide crucial insight into a tradition of architecture that has all but disappeared. Rock-cut or cave architecture from this period draws upon both this early tradition of living in natural caves and the later monastic complexes consisting of residential buildings and places for instruction and worship. (more…)

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By Joseph Costello, Medical Librarian, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Head of Laocoon, c. 100. Foto Reali Archive, National Gallery of Art, Department of Image Collections.

Prompt: Imagine the human expression of anguish. An amalgamation of stories, artwork, and social interactions blend together and you have your general concept of the human expression: anguish. The concept of anguish is correct to you since it is, after all, your portrayal; the anguish concept is a component in the overall conceptual framework you have constructed to assess emotional expressions. How accurate are you? In other words, how accurate are your visual detection skills of anguish or other emotions, how generalizable?

Accurate interpretation of facial expressions—the aggregate of minute facial movements we make, i.e. micro expressions—is believed to be associated with increased emotional intelligence. Researchers have shown that facial expressions can be generalized and successfully be a part of empathy training. Similarly, modern medicine generalizes the human body to find the distribution of values which in turn help generate a normal range.

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If you’re still trying to adjust to the start of Daylight Saving Time, we’d like to give you a little bit of advice: don’t let the mythological gods of Greece and Rome catch you napping. Seeing mortals sleeping seems to bring out the worst in them.

Here are three of the most notorious examples:

Endymion and Selene

Depending on whom you ask, Zeus either offered the beautiful shepherd Endymion a wish and Endymion chose to sleep and remain youthful forever, or the eternal sleep wasn’t a gift at all, but rather a punishment because Endymion had attempted to seduce Zeus’ wife, Hera. (more…)

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The Codex Mendoza, early 1540s

The ‘Codex Mendoza’, pt. I.; fol. 002r, early 1540s. Image and original data provided by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Copyright Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

As we built our AP® Art History Teaching Resources over the last three years, we found ourselves fascinated by some of the newly required content. Over the next year, we will offer periodic webinars on some of these works of art and architecture; the first one will be on the Colonial Americas.

The art of the Colonial Americas is represented in the curriculum framework by six distinct objects. One of these is the “Codex Mendoza,” named for the first viceroy of Mexico (1535-1550), who commissioned it c. 1542 (contributed to the Artstor Digital Library by the Bodleian Library). Intended as a gift to Charles V, the manuscript never reached the monarch.

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Frida Kahlo is world-famous for her self-portraits, which were a big part of her relatively small oeuvre (55 out of 144 paintings), while her husband Diego Rivera, despite producing much more work than Kahlo, only painted himself approximately 20 times. Why is that?

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Audubon and Audubon

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Attributed to John James Audubon, Pomarine Jager; Lestris Pomarinus, 1827-38. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

No doubt you are familiar with the work of the renowned wildlife artist John James Audubon, most likely his famous prints from The Birds of America. But did you know he wasn’t the only artist in the family? His son, John Woodhouse Audubon, spent much of his career supporting the work of his father, but he made a valuable contribution to wildlife documentation himself. (You can compare the two Audubons’ styles in the images below: the father’s are on the left, the son’s on the right.)

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Sandro Botticelli, Primavera; Allegory of Spring, c. 1478, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image and original data provided by ©SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com; scalarchives.com

Sandro Botticelli, Primavera; Allegory of Spring, c. 1478, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image and original data provided by ©SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com; scalarchives.com

Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) might now be best remembered for his murals in the Library of Congress, as well as in the state capitol buildings of Des Moines, St. Paul, and Madison, but he was also a respected writer and influential teacher. In 1911, he delivered a series of lectures on painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, later published as The Classic Point of View. His accessible writing style and his infectious enthusiasm for the Old Masters still speak to us today. Following is an excerpt from his lecture on the importance of drawing, focusing on the work of Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Drawing is a great expressional art and deals with beauty and significance, not with mere fact. Its great masters are the greatest artists that ever lived, and high attainment in it has always been rarer than high attainment in color. Its tools are the line and so much of light and shade as is necessary to convey the sense of bulk and modelling, anything more being something added for its own beauty and expressiveness, not a part of the sources of the draftsman. Its aims are, first, to develop in the highest degree the abstract beauty and significance possessed by lines in themselves, more or less independently of representation; second, to express with the utmost clearness and force the material significance of objects and, especially, of the human body. According as one or the other of these aims predominates we have one or the other of the two great schools into which draftsmen may be divided. These schools may be typified by the greatest masters of each, the school of Botticelli, or the school of pure line; the school of Michelangelo, or the school of significant form. Between these lie all the law and the prophets. Of course no artist ever belonged entirely and exclusively to either school. It is always a matter of balance and the predominance of interest. Even a Botticelli tried to put some significant form inside his beautiful lines, and even Michelangelo gave thought to the abstract beauty of his lines apart from the significant form they bounded. (more…)

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