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Art History

Archaeologists Discover What May Be the World’s Oldest Crayon

March 13, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Archaeologists working on a site near an ancient lake in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK say they may have discovered one of the earliest examples of a crayon. The reddish-brown piece of ochre is thought to have been used 10,000 years ago to color animal skins or produce artwork during the Mesolithic period.

The oblong discovery is just 22 mm long and 7 mm wide, yet shows a heavily striated surface where it was most likely scraped to create red pigment. One side of the tool is sharpened, another hint that the piece was used to draw or color. Dr. Andy Needham from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology explained the discovery helps archaeologists understand how significant color might have been to the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic period.

“For me it is a very significant object and helps us build a bigger picture of what life was like in the area; it suggests it would have been a very colourful place,” said Needham in a press release.

This has been a year of many art historical firsts. Within the last few months our knowledge of Greek civilization has been completely altered by the discovery of this tiny carved stone, and archaeologists found the first known use of a smiley face on an off-white jug in Southern Turkey. You can read more about the discovery of the ochre crayon, and other pieces found near the ancient lake in North Yorkshire, in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. (via Hyperallergic)




Animation Art

One Minute Art History: A Hand-Drawn Animation in Myriad Historical Art Styles

February 9, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Filmmaker and educator Cao Shu captures the history of art in an experimental short film that lasts for less than one minute. Throughout the film, the central character goes through the small motions of everyday movements like checking the time and having a drink, with each frame rendered in a different art historical style. The film starts in ancient Egypt and progresses through Chinese ink paintings and Japanese block prints to Modigliani and Basquiat-style portraits. Cao renders a vast array of art styles in a manner that is evocative without being overworked. He lives and works in Hangzhou, where he teaches at the China Academy of Art.



Colossal Design Illustration

Enamel Pins by Nia Gould Reimagine Famous Artists as Cats

February 1, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

When creative design manager Nia Gould isn’t busy running an arts venue, she dreams up ninth lives for famed artists from throughout history. A declared feline fan herself, Gould reimagines painters like Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, and Jean-Michel Basquiat as creative cats. She includes iconic elements of the artists’ personality and painting styles in each pin, like Kahlo’s flower crowns, van Gogh’s lopped-off ear, and Dali’s over-the-top mustache and look of perpetual surprise. Artist Cat Pins are available in The Colossal Shop.



Art History

An Astonishingly Small Stone Carving That Has the Power to Change Art History

November 10, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

The Pylos Combat Agate, an intricately carved 3,500-year-old sealstone discovered in a the tomb of a Greek warrior. All images courtesy of The Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati

More than two years ago researchers from the University of Cincinnati unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb in the southwest of Greece. The tomb belonged to a Bronze Age warrior nicknamed the “Griffin Warrior,” and contained many treasures, such as four gold signet rings, that have challenged previous notions about the origins of Greek civilization.

Perhaps one of the most important and visually captivating finds from the tomb occurred a full year after its discovery. Researchers uncovered a carved sealstone no larger than an inch and a half wide. The “Pylos Combat Agate” meticulously displays two warriors engaged in battle with bodies strewn at their feet, with some details less than a millimeter wide. The carving is perhaps most astonishing because it predates artistic skills that were not associated with Greek civilization for another millennium.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” said Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati in UC Magazine. “It’s a spectacular find.”

In a testament to the anonymous artist’s skills, it’s also worthy to note that magnifying glasses were not believed to be used for another thousand years. This ability and sophistication shows that the inhabitants of the area were creating art with an interest and knowledge of representational art not previously imagined. This new discovery, explained Davis and fellow dig leader Shari Stocker, is a catalyst to completely reevaluate the timeline and development of Greek art.

You can read more about the miniature carving and the Griffin Warrior’s tomb in UC Magazine. (via Neatorama and The History Blog)



Art History

The Guggenheim Museum Shares Over 200 Free Art Books Through the Internet Archive

May 3, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Over the last few years, the Guggenheim Museum has slowly released an impressive library of modern and historic art books in collaboration with the Internet Archive. The rare and out-of-print titles include books about Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Klee, Jenny Holzer, Joseph Cornell, as well as several exhibition catalogs and books about the museum itself. You’ll also find publications on wide ranging topics from the Russian and Soviet avant-garde movement to collections of Chinese and Aztec art.

Many of the books first books appeared online in 2012 and the collection has grown to include over 200 titles that can be viewed online or downloaded in PDF or ePub formats. You can see the full collection here. (via The Creators Project, My Modern Met)




Digital Artist Omar Aqil Interprets Picasso Paintings as Sleek Modern Sculptures

April 12, 2017

Christopher Jobson

For this series titled MIMIC, Pakistan-based digital artist and art director Omar Aqil took a random selection of artworks by Pablo Picasso and completely reimagined them as 3D renderings. While Picasso himself created hundreds of sculptures, Aqil’s interpretations add a bit of whimsy and his own personal touch to the 20th century artist’s oil paintings, bringing voluminous textures and unexpected depth to famous pieces like “Seated Woman” and “Monument to the Spaniard“.

Aquil says he has long been fascinated by Picasso’s artwork, and offers this project as a visual example of how different people might interpret an artwork. Indeed when looking back and forth between the two pieces you might find yourself seeing the original painting in a new way. Check out the entire project here, and prints are available by contacting the artist directly. (via Highsnobiety)



Art Photography

New Classical Paintings Reimagined as Part of Modern-Day Italian Life by Alexey Kondakov

January 30, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

For his latest works in the ongoing series Art History in Contemporary Life, Ukrainian artist and designer Alexey Kondakov (previously here and here) has staged classical paintings in scenes from modern day Naples, Italy. The figures effortless merge with their present day surroundings, two women looking perfectly bored flipping through comic books in the back of a dusty book store, while a different woman takes a nap beside a latte and half-eaten sandwich. You can view more of his digitally altered scenes on his Instagram and Facebook page. (via My Modern Met)