A History of Art Remaking Society

In modern society, we are used to political art. One hundred years ago today, fighting raged in the streets of Berlin. Kaiser Wilhelm II had abdicated in November 1918, and a new socialist government, led by reform-minded members of the German Socialist Party (SPD), had declared a democratic republic. Thousands of workers and sailors, dissatisfied[…]

New Clues about Mysterious Ancient Greek Sculptures of Mourning Women

Scientific analysis of four rare sculptures of mourning women furthers understanding of South Italian funerary art. Introduction For the first time, four terracotta statues of mourning women that have long been in storage have gone on display, and are on view at the Getty Villa through April 1. Bringing these figures—made in the town of[…]

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the first monument to commemorate the over 4,000 African Americans who were lynched in the United States between 1877 and 1950. Introduction Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is the first monument to commemorate the over 4,000 African Americans who were lynched[…]

Camera Obscura: Accuracy and Elegance in Cheselden’s Osteographia (1733)

With its novel vignettes and its use of a camera obscura in the production of the plates, William Cheselden’s Osteographia, is recognized as a landmark in the history of anatomical illustration. Monique Kornell looks at its unique blend of accuracy and elegance. By Dr. Monique KornellIndependent Scholar of Anatomical Illustration This article, Camera Obscura: Accuracy[…]

Indelible Ink: The Deep History of Tattoo Removal

While contemporary laser removal techniques are only around forty years old, efforts to erase or rewrite tattoos are much, much older. In 1681, after several months of raids on Spanish settlements, a group of English pirates traipsed across Panama on their way to the Atlantic. An accident involving gunpowder had left the buccaneers’ surgeon, Lionel Wafer,[…]

Ancient Tonga Tattoo Tools May Illustrate Birth of Polynesian Body Art

The tools, called “bone combs,” resemble hair combs with their grooved edges. By Amy Held Tattooing goes back millennia and spans cultures, as evidenced by mummified remains, yet many details of the body modification’s origins have been shrouded in mystery. Now an ancient bone tattoo kit from the Pacific island nation of Tonga is providing researchers[…]

Ancient Korean Architecture

The architecture of ancient Korea is epitomized by the artful combination of wood and stone. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The architecture of ancient Korea is epitomised by the artful combination of wood and stone to create elegant and spacious multi-roomed structures characterised by clay tile roofing, enclosures within protective walls, interior courtyards and gardens, and the whole placed upon[…]

Palimpsest: Recycling Manuscripts in the Medieval World

This practice began earlier with the Ancient Romans, who wrote (literally scratched on letters) on wax-coated tablets, which were reuseable. Introduction In textual studies, a palimpsest (/ˈpælɪmpsɛst/) is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document.[1]Pergamene (now known as parchment) was made[…]

The Arch of Constantine and Spolia as Recycled Propaganda

The Arch is a huge conglomerate of imperial Roman sculpture as many parts of it were recycled (spolia) from earlier 1st and 2nd century CE monuments. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Arch of Constantine I, erected in c. 315 CE, stands in Rome and commemorates Roman Emperor Constantine’s victory over the Roman tyrant Maxentius on 28th[…]

A History of Korean Pottery

The pottery of ancient Korea stretches back to prehistory when simple brown wares were made and decorated with geometrical incisions. By Mark CarwrightHistorian Introduction The pottery of ancient Korea stretches back to prehistory when simple brown wares were made and decorated with geometrical incisions. Potters would benefit from the ideas and techniques of their Chinese counterparts and go[…]

Conservation Work Reveals the Hidden Revisions of Pontormo, Italian Renaissance Master

Study and treatment of a Renaissance altarpiece reveals new details about the artist’s working method, as well as his brilliant colors. By Chelika Yapa Advances in imaging technology have revolutionized science and medicine—and today, they are also revolutionizing the study and conservation of art. New imaging techniques have made it possible for art conservators and[…]

The History and Art of Protest Posters

One of the most common mediums for political art has long been poster making. One of the most common mediums for political art is poster making. From the Mexican Revolution to recent marches infuriated by the Trump administration, posters have continually been used as a powerful form of protest and a symbol of discontent. The[…]

Historical Perception of Architecture and Cultural History Approach

The holistic nature of cultural history approach makes us consider all factors that may have contributed to the creation of architecture. Introduction The experts and specialists in the field of architecture have had different viewpoints and approaches in defining the concepts of “history” and “the history of architecture”, all through the compiled history of architecture.[…]

Stopping Time to Study History: The Art of Textile Conservation

It has fallen on textile conservators to keep historic textiles preserved, and a surprising amount of science aids them in this quest. Introduction In one of the lower-level exhibition rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is a large red and blue mantle from Peru made of camelid wool. Stylized faces embroidered in yellow,[…]

“O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat

Dante Gabriel Rossetti and company’s curious but longstanding fixation with the furry oddity that is the wombat — that “most beautiful of God’s creatures” which found its way into their poems, their art, and even, for a brief while, their homes. This article, “O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat, was originally[…]

Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn: Asian Masters of American Art

Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn were Asian American artists who made major contributions to the two most important movements in American art between 1930 and 1960—Regionalism and Abstract Expressionism. Introduction Fay Chong and Andrew Chinn were Asian American artists who made major contributions to the two most important movements in American art between 1930 and[…]

The Art of the Viking Age

Viking Age Scandinavians almost exclusively made applied art – aesthetically appealing and useful. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Art made by Scandinavians during the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) mostly encompassed the decoration of functional objects made of wood, metal, stone, textile and other materials with relief carvings, engravings of animal shapes and abstract patterns. The motif of the[…]

Exploring Medieval Theories of Color through Glass

An unlikely combination of artists, medieval historians, philosophers and scientists have converged to create an exhibition of glass artworks. What is colour? This is one of those big questions that unlock “treasure chests” containing centuries of riches. Reach in and there are jewels to be discovered – of classical learning, philosophy, science ancient and modern,[…]

Rare Blue Pigment in Medieval Woman’s Teeth Reveal Highly Skilled Artist

A new study posits the woman was licking brushes covered with pigments of lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone used to decorate illuminated manuscripts. By Brigit Katz In 2011, a team of scientists decided to study the teeth of a medieval woman who had been buried in Germany sometime between 1000 and 1200 A.D.[…]

Ottoman-Era Photographs Take on New Meaning in Their Digital Life

Thousands of images from the Pierre de Gigord Collection are now accessible online. By Isotta PoggiDepartment of Acquisitions of Exhibitions and PhotographsGetty Research Institute Introduction In the 1980s the French collector Pierre de Gigord traveled to Turkey and collected thousands of Ottoman-era photographs in a variety of media and formats. The resulting Pierre de Gigord Collection[…]

Life before the Collapse of the Soviet Union: The Photography of Henry Sara

Sara’s images defined the Soviet Union at its ‘base line’. What was life like in early Soviet Union? As Russians established the USSR after the Great War, British left-wing activist Henry Sara visited the country and, during his time there, took photographs of the people, landscape and the emerging Soviet State. Those photographs went on[…]

Sewing Needles Reveal the Prehistoric Roots of Fashion

Humans have crafted garments for more than 40,000 years—and prehistoric tools suggest that warmth wasn’t their only concern. By Jacob Pagano The Inya River in southwestern Siberia winds through a landscape of striking seasonal changes. In the summer, crystal clear waters lap below alpine forests. As winter approaches, the river freezes, fierce snowstorms shroud the[…]

John Thomson’s 19th-Century Chinese Treaty-Port Imagery

Westerners were a feature of late-19th-century China, albeit a much smaller presence than Thomson would have us believe. In subscribing to the views and types protocol, Thomson was no different than most 19th-century commercial photographers working in Asia. This simple dichotomy provided a convenient means to organize and present large inventories to potential customers, and[…]

John Thomson’s China, 1873: Reframing the Past

Thomson’s photographic medium possessed qualities that draw the attention of viewers and lay claim to a degree of visual authority. Formats and Picture Size Thomson used three formats for the scenic views in Illustrations of China and Its People. The smallest images (roughly 3.5 in. square) are grouped four to a page; medium sized images[…]

Indigenous Basket-Weaving as an Excellent Digital Math Lesson

Academic disciplines such as mathematics can contribute through community-led partnerships with Indigenous peoples. Public universities across Canada are committed to addressing the calls to action included in the final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). There is a general expectation that academic institutions and faculty members across the country will contribute to this[…]