The Petrifying Gaze of Medusa: Ambivalence, Explexis, and the Sublime

Photo by bl3w, Flickr, Creative Commons Tracing the notion of ekplexis in Greek rhetoric and the connections in etymology, myth, and pictorial traditions, between the petrifying powers of art and the myth of Medusa. By Dr. Caroline van Eck Professor of Art History University of Cambridge Abstract The Dutch art theorists Junius and van Hoogstraten describe the sublime,[…]

How Gothic Architecture Became Associated with the Supernatural

Brodie castle, north Scotland. Albert de Bruijn, CC BY-SA How medieval spires and snarling gargoyles went out of fashion and then made a spectacular return under – you guessed it – the Victorians. By Dr. Peter Lindfield / 10.30.2016 Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow Manchester Metropolitan University If you want foreboding old buildings that dark lords and werewolves are bound to frequent, look no[…]

Negotiating the Past in Berlin: The Palast der Republik

Lars Ø Ramberg, “Palast des Zweifels” on the roof of the Palast der Republik, January 26. – May 15. 2005 (photo: Dr. Naraelle Hohensee, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) With the destruction of the Palast der Republik, the site of the royal palace continues its long history as the central showplace for state-sponsored projections of national identity. By Dr. Naraelle[…]

Petra: Wonder in the Desert

Petra, Jordan: The rock of Fassade and of “ed-Deir.” Andreas Voegelin, Antikenmuseum Basel. How a mysterious kingdom of former nomads created a luxurious, urban oasis in an inhospitable climate.    Interview of Laurent Gorgerat (right) by James Blake Wiener (left) / 05.07.2013 Wiener: Communications Director, Ancient History Encyclopedia Gorgerat: Curator, Antikenmuseum Basel Few places on earth have captivated humanity[…]

The Impact of Silk on Ottonian and Salien Manuscripts

Princeton University Library, Creative Commons Two distinctive art forms came together for a brief period in Germany during the tenth and eleventh centuries, the period of Ottonian and Salian rule. By Dr. Stephen M. Wagner Professor of Art History Savannah College of Art and Design In keeping with the theme of the symposium’s title, “Silk[…]

A Dog’s Life, from Kyoto to Versailles

Pictured on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum: Dog-shaped Box on a Low Table (background) and Peach-shaped Box (foreground), Japanese, Edo period, late 17th–mid-18th century, lacquer. Musée national des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon The dramatic tale of how a small Japanese lacquer box has survived over centuries. By Jeffrey Weaver / 10.08.2018 Associate Curator of Sculpture and[…]

The Palaikastro Octopus Vase of Ancient Minoa – An Enduring Influence

Octopus vase from Palaikastro, c. 1500 B.C.E., 27 cm high (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, photo: Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 3.0) The style was imitated by potters on the Greek mainland as well as the islands of Melos. By Dr. Senta German / 08.15.2018 Faculty of Classics Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford Ceramics for[…]

An Eye into Ancient Minoa through the Palaikastro Kouros

Statuette of a Male Figure (The Palaikastro Kouros), 1480 – 1425 B.C.E., serpentine, hippopotamus ivory, and gold, 54 x 18.5 cm (Archaeological Museum of Siteia, photo: Olaf Tausch, CC BY 3.0) The attention to naturalistic human anatomy in the statue is extraordinary. By Dr. Senta German / 08.20.2018 Faculty of Classics Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford One[…]

Maria Sibylla Merian, Trailblazing Artist-Scientist of the Seventeenth Century

Beehive in a Floral Wreath (detail), 1730, Maria Sibylla Merian. The Getty Research Institute, 89-B10813 Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) was a woman far ahead of her time: a skilled, meticulous artist in an era when few women could participate in this profession. By Zoe Goldman / 10.24.2018 Administrative and Project Assistant Getty Publications Introduction Portrait of[…]

Mistress of a New World: Early Science Fiction in Europe’s ‘Age of Discovery’

Portrait of Margaret Cavendish in the frontispiece to her Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668). The image is also used as frontispiece to some editions of The Blazing World / Wikimedia Commons Considered by many one of the founding texts of the science fiction genre, The Blazing World — via a dizzy mix of animal-human hybrids, Immaterial Spirits, and burning foes —[…]

A Photographic Tour of the Persian Gulf and Iraq, 1906

‘House of the dragoman [translator] of British Consulate Basra’, 1906 (IOR/L/PS/20/C260, f 27), Public Domain  Wilfrid Malleson’s November, 1906, report and photos from an intelligence gathering tour in the Persian Gulf. By Louis Allday / 10.21.2018 PhD Student History SOAS University of London In November 1906, Wilfrid Malleson, a British military intelligence officer, departed from Simla[…]

Sensing the Image: Gender, Piety, and Images in Late Medieval Tuscany

Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece by Guariento di Arpo, 1344, tempera and gold leaf on panel, Norton Simon Museum / Wikimedia Commons Exploring a range of ways in which holy images were ‘sensed’ by women in renaissance Tuscany. By Dr. Catherine Lawless Director, The Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies Trinity College Dublin Abstract The Florentine[…]

What Is Culture?

To an anthropologist, it means the patterns of human behaviour, and all that that entails. 01.01.2018 Introduction The word “culture” is used in different ways by different people. To some, it might mean a string quartet and the use of multiple utensils at dinner. To others, it might be used in a vague way when planning[…]

Complexity and Vision: The Staff God at Chavín de Huántar and Beyond

Archaeological site of Chavín de Huántar (photo: Julio Martinich, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The artistic style seen in stone sculpture and architectural decoration at the temple site of Chavín de Huántar is deliberately complex, confusing, and esoteric. By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 09.27.2018 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University Art for the Initiated The artistic style seen in stone[…]

Centuries of Inaccurate Christian Depictions of the Historical Jesus

Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century) / Photo by Livioandronico2013, Wikimedia Commons The Jesus we’ve inherited from centuries of Christian art is not accurate. By Dr. Joan Taylor / 02.08.2018 Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism King’s College London Over the past few decades, the question of[…]

The Significance and Meaning of Street Art in the Middle East

A massive mural of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump engaged in a passionate kiss was unveiled Sunday morning, October 29, 2017, painted on the West Bank security barrier near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma Street art is a contemporary culture that is ever-growing and transitioning in significance and meaning.[…]

Deconstructing Myths about the Nude in Renaissance Art

Madonna and Child Surrounded by Angels (detail), 1454–56, Jean Fouquet. Oil on panel, 36 1/4 x 32 7/8 in. Courtesy of Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. Image ©–Art in Flanders vzw, photo Dominique Provost A new exhibition and book explore the complexity of the nude in Renaissance art and the controversies it provoked, revealing[…]

Pollaiuolo’s ‘Battle of Ten Nudes’: Spreading the Renaissance in Europe

Antonio Pollaiuolo, Battle of Ten Nudes (or Battle of Nude Men), c. 1465, engraving, 15-1/8 x 23-3/16″ / 38.4 x 58.9 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) Antonio Pollaiuolo’s Battle of Ten Nudes has been called the single most important engraving in European history. By Christine Zappella / 08.09.2015 PhD Student in Medieval and Early Modern Art University of Chicago Antonio Pollaiuolo’s Battle[…]

Kamares Ware and Trade in Ancient Minoa

Kamares wares in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion (photo: Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0) Kamares ware helps us map the trading relationships of the Minoans with the Mediterranean at large. By Dr. Senta German / 08.20.2018 Faculty of Classics Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford Look closely at the jug on the top shelf at[…]

The Harvester Vase of Hagia Triada: An Eye into Ancient Minoan Agriculture

Harvester Vase from Hagia Triada, c. 1550-1500 B.C.E., black steatite, diameter 4.5 inches (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion) As the name of this vessel indicates, it is generally thought that its decoration refers to harvesting. By Dr. Senta German / 08.16.2018 Faculty of Classics Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford Small but Powerful Found[…]

Circulation of Feathers in the Mesoamerican Aztec Realm

The feather merchant, Florentine Codex Book 10, folio 41r / Creative Commons Feathers, especially those from colorful tropical birds, were among the most highly prized materials in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. By Dr. Frances Berdan / 01.21.2006 Professor of Anthropology California State University San Bernardino Abstract Feathers, especially those from colorful tropical birds, were among the most highly[…]

Benoist’s 1800 ‘Portrait of a Black Woman’ and Its Initial Negative Reception

Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Portrait of a Black Woman (formerly known as Portrait of a Negress), 1800, oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm (Musée du Louvre) Why did this work provoke such a negative response when first exhibited? By Dr. Susan Waller / 09.26.2018 Professor of Art History University of Minneota-St. Louis Antoine Maxime Monsaldy, “View of the paintings[…]

Cylinder Seals in Ancient Mesopotamia – Their History and Significance

Cylinder seals were impression stamps, often quite intricate in design, used throughout Mesopotamia. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 12.02.2015 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Introduction Among the most interesting and revealing artifacts discovered from ancient Mesopotamia are the objects known as cylinder seals. These fairly small items may be seen today in museum exhibits around[…]

Ancient Greek Women and Art: The Material Evidence

Discussing Ancient Greek women and their relationship to the visual arts solely on the evidence of the extant monuments. By Dr. Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway Professor Emeriti of Archaeology Bryn Mawr College Abstract Ancient Greek women and their relationship to the visual arts are here discussed solely on the evidence of the extant monuments, rather than on[…]

Uncovering Ancient Preparatory Drawings on Greek Ceramics

Detail of a cup currently on view in the new installation at the Getty Villa. The cup depicts a woman playing the drinking game kottabos. Attic Red-Figure Kylix, about 490 B.C., attributed to Onesimos. Terracotta, 3 3/8 × 14 1/2 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 82.AE.14. On the left is the painted image in normal light. On[…]

Ancient Minoan Burial Rituals: ‘Reading’ the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus

The Hagia Triada sarcophagus at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion (photo: C messier, CC BY-SA 3.0) This sarcophagus is among the best of narrative-style representations of religious customs in ancient Minoa. By Dr. Senta German / 08,17.2018 Faculty of Classics Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum University of Oxford A Coffin for Royalty? Hagia Triada sarcophagus, c. 1400[…]

Grandville: Visions and Dreams in 19th-Century French Art

The Wanderings of a Comet, from Another World, 1844 / Internet Archive With its dreamlike inversions and kaleidoscopic cast of anthropomorphic objects, animals, and plants, the world of French artist J. J. Grandville is at once both delightful and disquieting. Patricia Mainardi explores the unique work of this 19th-century illustrator now recognised as a major precursor[…]