Category: History

Delicate Sketches of the Original Peace Symbol to be Exhibited in London 

Sketch of nuclear disarmament symbol, by Gerald Holtom. © Commonweal Collection.

Stretching back over a half century, one of the most iconic symbols adopted by the international community has been the peace symbol. Utilized by millions of activists, organizations, and artists across the globe, most people are probably unfamiliar with the design’s unique origins and the meaning behind the multi-pronged symbol.

Artist Gerald Holtom created the symbol for the first Aldermaston March in 1958, part of a series of anti-nuclear weapon demonstrations in the 1950s and 1960s. The symbol was next adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and soon peace groups around the world displayed it in a variety of configurations. But what exactly does it mean?

Holtom designed the peace symbol around the visual language of flag semaphores, a telegraphy method for communicating with flags at a distance, combining the letters “N” and “D” standing for “nuclear” and “disarmament.”

Flag semaphores for the letters “N” and “D” and an overlay. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Holtom’s original 1958 sketches are now in extremely fragile condition and are rarely seen in public. However, a few of them, along with 300 objects from a century of anti-war activist campaigns in the UK, will be on view as part of People Power: Fighting for Peace at the Imperial War Museum in London from March 23 through August 28, 2017. You can read more about the peace symbol’s history over on Hyperallergic.

Hey art and design teachers, here’s a fun project idea: have students create new symbols of ideas important to them using flag semaphores or some other symbolic alphabet as a starting point. Send the results to [email protected] by March 20, 2017 with the subject ‘Peace Project‘ and we’ll share our favorites here on Colossal.

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The Met Places Over 375,000 Artworks into the Public Domain for Unrestricted Use 

Joan of Arc. Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1897. Oil on canvas.

Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that more than 375,000 images found in the museum’s online collection are now available for free and unrestricted use. The high-resolution images are licensed under Creative Commons, the non-profit organization that facilities the public use of some 1.1 billion digital works.

The announcement is an update to the Met’s 2014 initiative placing hundreds of thousands of images into the public domain, but the expanded policy, called Open Access, now allows for unrestricted usage including commercial purposes. The vast library of paintings, historical objects, photographs, textiles, and prints can now be utilized anywhere for any purpose. Metropolitan Museum of Art Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell shares in the announcement:

We have been working toward the goal of sharing our images with the public for a number of years. Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the Museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We thank Creative Commons, an international leader in open access and copyright, for being a partner in this effort.

All images available through the new Open Access policy are searchable on the Met’s website. Simply check the “Public Domain Artworks” option under “Show only” and start searching. Seen here is a small collection of images available through the new policy. (via My Modern Met)

Victorian Interior I. Horace Pippin, 1945. Oil on canvas.

Openwork furniture plaque with ram-headed sphinx. Neo-Assyrian. ca. 9th–8th century B.C.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1868–69. Oil on cavas.

Panel with striding lion. Mesopotamia, Babylon (modern Hillah, Iraq) ca. 604–562 B.C. Ceramic, glaze.

Mäda Primavesi. Gustav Klimt, 1912–13. Oil on canvas.

Frederick Douglass. Portrait by Mathew B. Brady, 1880.

Award to the Hammond Typewriter Company. Jules-Clément Chaplain (French, Mortagne, Orne 1839–1909 Paris). Bronze.

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Kayashima: The Japanese Train Station Built Around a 700-Year-Old Tree 

Photo by Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei

In the Northeast suburbs of central Osaka stands a curious train station unlike any other. Kayashima Station features a rectangular hole cut into the roof of the elevated platform and, from inside, a giant tree pokes its head out like a stalk of broccoli. It’s almost like a railway version of Laputa.

The large camphor tree is older than most records but officials believe it to be around 700 years old. The story of how this tree and station became, quite literally, intertwined, varies depending on who you ask. It certainly has to do with a great reverence for nature, but also a fair amount of superstition.

Kayashima Station first opened in 1910 and, at the time, the camphor tree stood right next to the station. For the next 60 years the station remained largely unchanged. But an increase in population and overcrowding began to put pressure on the station and plans for an expansion where approved in 1972, which called for the tree to be cut down.

But the camphor tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity. And when locals found out that station officials planned to remove the tree there was a large uproar. Tales began to emerge about the tree being angry, and unfortunate events befalling anyone who attempted to cut it down. Someone who cut a branch off later in the day developed a high fever. A white snake was spotted, wrapped around the tree. Some even saw smoke arise from the tree (it was probably just a swarm of bugs).

And so, the station officials eventually agreed to keep the tree and incorporate it into the new elevated platform’s design. In 1973 construction began and the new station was completed in 1980. The station even surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. To this day, the tree still stands thanks to a strong, local community and a little bit of superstition. (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

Photo by Studio Ohana.

Photo by Studio Ohana.

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Full Trailer for ‘Loving Vincent,’ a Feature-Length Film Animated by 62,450 Oil Paintings 

The full trailer for Loving Vincent (previously here and here), a film examining the life of Vincent van Gogh, has finally been released after nearly six years of creative development. Each of the 62,450 frames for the feature-length film were hand-painted by 115 professional oil painters, and will integrate 94 of Van Gogh’s paintings into the animation. First captured as a live action film, the final oil paintings replicate each shot, recreating the entire film frame-by-frame. Loving Vincent is written and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, and produced by Poland’s BreakThru Films and UK’s Trademark Films. You look behind-the-scenes of the film in the video below, as well as keep up-to-date with release information on the film’s Twitter and Facebook.

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16th Century Miniature Boxwood Carvings That Fit in the Palm of Your Hand 

Photo by Craig Boyko

Carved the size of a palm or smaller, these miniature boxwood carvings featuring religious iconography from the early 16th century have long been a mystery to researchers in the field. It is believed that the entire body of work was created during a 30-year window between 1500 and 1530, somewhere in Flanders or the Netherlands.

The tiny altarpieces, rosaries, and prayer beads are each produced from a single boxwood fragment, incorporating pins smaller than a grass seed that hold the pieces together. Using micro CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software, curators and conservators of Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures an exhibition at The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum have gained new insight into the materials and subject matter of each boxwood carving.

Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures will showcase AGO’s collection along with 50 other loaned pieces from other museums and private collections, including some rare carvings that have never been seen in North America. One work, the eleven-bead Chatsworth Rosary (c. 1509-1526), was owned by King Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon. You can tour the full exhibition yourself at the AGO through January 22, at the Met Cloisters on February 21, 2017, or when the exhibition makes its last stop at the Rijksmuseum on June 15, 2017.

You can also follow AGO on their journey to discovering the mystery behind the boxwood miniatures in the video below, as well as see detailed images from the entire collection on AGO’s website. (via The History Blog)

Photo by Ian Lefebvre

Photo by Craig Boyko

Photo by Ian Lefebvre

Photo by Craig Boyko

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