History

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Art Craft History

Discarded Ceramic Shards Are Celebrated in Multi-Part Assemblages by Conservator and Artist Bouke de Vries

October 18, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Bouke de Vries works with ceramic assemblage to reinterpret historical pottery in multi-part sculptures. The Dutch artist studied at the prestigious Central St. Martin’s in London and worked in high fashion before pivoting to ceramics conservation and restoration in the early 1990’s, which he learned at West Dean College. Confronting the moral dilemmas around valuation of imperfect artifacts in his vocational practice, de Vries challenges the value of imperfection, damage, and cultural history in his exploded artworks.

Broken blue willow plates amalgamate into a map of China, a shattered turqoise vase finds a new function as the contents of a clear glass vessel, and small shards of porcelain become the thorns on a blossoming rose. In a statement on his website, the artist explains:

Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, he emphasizes their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward… Where even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object practically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. There’s something incongruous about the fact that such an object, although still imbued with all the skills it took to make it – be it first-period Worcester, Kang-xi or Sevres – can so easily be consigned to the dustbin of history.

De Vries’s work has clearly struck a chord with viewers: he exhibits widely and in 2019 alone has shown work at Hillwood House in Washington, Mesher Gallery in Instanbul, The Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama, the Kuntsi Museum in Vaasa, Finland, the Museum of Royal Worcester, and at the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale in Yingge, Taiwan. The artist is represented by galleries in The Netherlands, U.S., and U.K. Explore more of de Vries’s work and stay up-to-date on his latest exhibitions via Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)

 

 



Documentary History

Watch Art Conservator Diana Hartman Painstakingly Re-Weave and Patch a Century-Old Canvas

September 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Step into the conservation and restoration studios at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in this short documentary following the restoration of a 1907 painting. Featuring conservator Diana Hartman, the video follows Hartman’s problem-solving, tool acquisition, and hands-on work. The hundred year-old canvas, painted by Paula Modersohn-Becker, is unusual in that it is still on its original wood stretchers, and was presumably stretched by the artist herself. This also presents some complex logistical hurdles, as normally a canvas on non-original stretchers would simply be removed from its wooden structural support for repairs. After several months of planning the repair, Hartman re-weaves the canvas using eye surgery needles and tones a custom-shaped canvas patch with precisely matched watercolors.

MoMA reopens to the public on October 21, 2019, after several months of extensive renovations and expansions, including two new ground-floor galleries that are free to visit. (via The Kid Should See This)

 

 



Art History

400 Artists, 54 Countries, 500 Years: ‘Great Women Artists’ is the Largest Collection of Female Artists Ever Published

August 29, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Great Women Artists celebrates the centuries-long lineage of artistic brilliance amongst artists who happen to be female. Featuring a vast array of aesthetics and movements spanning 500 years, included artists range from Nina Chanel Abney and Eva Hesse to Shoplifter and Sofonisba Anguissola. The 464-page book from Phaidon is the largest compilation of female artists ever published, with 450 illustrations of 400 artists from more than 50 countries. Great Women Artists will be released on September 25, 2019, and is currently available for preorder on Amazon and Phaidon’s website.

 

 



Design History

The World’s Largest Intact Ancient Mosaic Opens to the Public in Antakya, Turkey

July 19, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

A 9,000 square-foot mosaic is set to open this year after its discovery nine years ago during the construction of a new hotel in Antakya, Turkey. Archaeologists at the site believe the geometric work once decorated the floor of a public building in the previous city of Antioch, one of the most important cities in the Seleucid Empire. Although vast segments of the original mosaic are still intact, others have rippled and disappeared due to a series of earthquakes in 526 and 528 A.D.

Archaeologists have been collaborating with architects to preserve the ancient work during the construction of a surrounding museum-hotel. A platform connected to structural columns now hovers above the mosaic and specified viewing points were constructed as a way to let visitors view the masterwork below. You can learn more about the history of the ancient city and the archaeological find on The History Blog.

 

 



Design History Illustration

Cross-Sections of Geological Formations and Views of the Cosmos Bring the World to Life in 19th Century Educational Charts

May 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In 1887 Levi Walter Yaggy published the Geographical Portfolio – Comprising Physical, Political, Geological, and Astronomical Geography with his publishing company, Western Publishing House of Chicago. The popular set of maps and charts (an expanded second edition was released six years later) was intended for teachers to use in classroom settings. The two by three-foot sheets used clever composite images to convey the range of topography and animals around the world, resulting in dense caves and steep mountain peaks that could be straight out of a fantasy novel.

In addition to their imaginative designs and eye-catching color palettes, Yaggy made strides in the teaching aid field by incorporating interactive elements. Each set included a 3-dimensional relief map of the United States and latches revealed hidden diagrams on individual charts. Unfortunately, despite his forward-thinking designs, Yaggy did include the era’s all-too-common racist depictions of non-white populations on some of his cultural maps.

You can explore the full range of Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio via digital scans on David Rumsey’s map website (where they are available as on-demand prints and as high-resolution downloads), and learn more about the charts on National Geographic. (via this isn’t happiness)

 

 

 

 



Design History Photography

Sacred Spaces: The Grand Interiors of Modern Churches Across Europe and Japan by Thibaud Poirier

May 7, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz, Berlin, Germany - Johann Freidrich Höger, 1933, all images via Thibaud Poirier

Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz, Berlin, Germany – Johann Freidrich Höger, 1933, all images via Thibaud Poirier

Thibaud Poirier (previously) travels the world photographing the architectural spaces that surround us as we live, sleep, study, and pray. In his most recent series, the French photographer captured the interiors of 29 modern churches across Germany, The Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Japan to see how each city has designed structures of worship within the last century. In Sacred Spaces, Poirier uses the same focal point in each image. The stylistic choice makes it easier to compare the similarities of basic structures such as seating and pulpit placement, while contrasting the differences in interior design choices such as lighting and color palettes. You can see more modern churches from the series on his website, Instagram, and Behance.

Saint Moritz, Augsburg, Germany - John Pawson, 2013

Saint Moritz, Augsburg, Germany – John Pawson, 2013

Resurrection of Christ, Köln, Germany - Gottfried Böhm, 1957

Resurrection of Christ, Köln, Germany – Gottfried Böhm, 1957

Grundtvigs Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark - Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, 1927

Grundtvigs Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark – Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, 1927

Opstandingskerk, Amsterdam - Marius Duintjer, 1956

Opstandingskerk, Amsterdam – Marius Duintjer, 1956

Kapelle, Berlin, Germany - Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, 1999

Kapelle, Berlin, Germany – Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, 1999

Saint Joseph, Le Havre, France - Auguste Perret, 1956

Saint Joseph, Le Havre, France – Auguste Perret, 1956

Saint Anselm's Meguro, Tokyo, Japan - Antonin Raymond, 1954

Saint Anselm’s Meguro, Tokyo, Japan – Antonin Raymond, 1954

Notre dame du Chêne, Viroflay, France - Louis, Luc and Thierry Sainsaulieu, 1966

Notre dame du Chêne, Viroflay, France – Louis, Luc and Thierry Sainsaulieu, 1966

Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan - Kenzo Tange, 1964

Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan – Kenzo Tange, 1964

 

 



Design History

A Dozen New Stamps Celebrate Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawings

February 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The head of Leda (c.1505–08), on view at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The innovative yet timeless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci will soon be arriving in mailboxes around the U.K., thanks for a special stamp release marking the quincentennial anniversary of the Italian artist’s death. In tandem with the special stamp edition, twelve cultural institutions throughout the United Kingdom will be showcasing a total of 144 of da Vinci’s works in the dispersed show Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. The exhibitions opened at the beginning of February and are on view through May 6, 2019 in Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, and other U.K. cities. Stamp sets are available from Royal Mail. (via artnet)

The skull sectioned (1489), on view at Ulster Museum, Belfast

A star-of-Bethlehem and other plants (c.1506–12), on view at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Studies of cats (c.1517–18) on view at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The skeleton (c.1510–11) on view at Cymru/National Museum Wales, Cardiff

The fall of light on a face (c.1488), on view at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The head of St. Philip (c.1495) on view at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

The skeleton (c.1510–11) on view at Cymru/National Museum Wales, Cardiff