History

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History

Explore the Vast Archive of the Museum of African American History and Culture Through Its New Digital Platform

November 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

Tintype of a young girl, 1870s. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Oprah Winfrey

The latest in a slew of institutions launching virtual counterparts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture released a new platform that makes its archive accessible to those outside of its Washington, D.C. home. Displaying its lauded collection of Black history, the Searchable Museum is a digital trove of multimedia projects, videos, podcasts, and more than 40,000 3D renderings of its archive.

Its first exhibition, titled Slavery and Freedom, opens in 1400, an era before people were seen as goods to be bought and sold. “By the 1600s, an unanticipated shift took place. The primary commodity became enslaved African people. This is their story,” a statement says. The exhibition follows slavery’s trajectory—it speaks to the ways Black people shaped colonial North America and the hypocrisy inherent in the U.S.’s vows for freedom before culminating in an exploration of the Civil War and Reconstruction—through photos, banknotes, maps, illustrations, and a variety of other artifacts.

As its name suggests, the Searchable Museum offers multiple ways to peruse its archive, including an explore section with objects like Harriet Tubman’s shawl and the Point of Pines Slave Cabin, a relic from the plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina, that was occupied from 1850 to the 1980s and is only viewable online. Other segments include glimpses into the stories of people who aren’t widely known but have profound impacts and the way history continues to shape life today. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Classroom, 1870. Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations

Anti-AIDS mural in New York City

Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine by Kadir Nelson, 2017. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and National Portrait Gallery, Gift from Kadir Nelson and the JKBN Group, LLC

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963. Library of Congress

 

 



Art History Illustration Photography

A New Book Flies Through the Vast World of Birds from Art and Design to History and Ornithology

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Trochilidae – Kolibris, from Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Chromolithograph, 36 × 26 cm / 14 × 10 ¼ in. Picture credit: Kunstformen der Natur

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. Published by Phaidon, the stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers—including Lorna Simpson (previously), Nick Cave (previously), Ernst Haeckel (previously), and Florentijn Hofman (previously)—who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs. Each spread connects two distinct works from different periods, pairing anatomical renderings with James Audubon’s illustrations and striking contemporary portraits with vintage advertisements.

In addition to hundreds of images, the forthcoming tome features an introduction by Katrina van Grouw and information about urban birding experiences and taxonomies. Copies are available from Bookshop on November 10.

 

Allen & Ginter, Birds of the Tropics, 1889. Chromolithograph, 7.3 × 8.3 cm / 2 7/8 × 3 ¼ in, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Picture credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Jefferson R.Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick

Elizabeth Butterworth, Lear’s Macaw, 2005. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, 25 × 34 cm / 9 ¼ × 13 3/8 in, Private collection. Picture credit: © Elizabeth Butterworth

Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck, 2013. PVC, H. 16.5 m / 21 ft, temporary installation, Hong Kong. Picture credit: All Rights Reserved, courtesy Studio Florentijn Hofman

Matt Stuart, Trafalgar Square, 2004. Photograph, dimensions variable. Picture credit: © Matt Stuart

John James Audubon (engraved by Robert Havell), American Flamingo, from The Birds of America, double elephant folio edition, 1838. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, 97 × 65 cm / 38 ¼ × 25 5/8 in. Picture credit: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: Gift of Mrs. Walter B. James

Oiva Toikka, Birds by Toikka, 1972–present. Mouth-blown glass, dimensions variable, Iittala collection. Picture credit: All rights reserved by Fiskars Finland Oy Ab/Photographer Timo Junttila, Designer Oiva Toikka

Andy Holden and Peter Holden, Natural Selection, 2018. Mixed media, Temporary installation at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK. Picture credit: Andy Holden/Photograph by Alison Bettles

 

 



History

They're Baaaack: Meet the Creepy Dolls from the History Center of Olmsted County Collection

October 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © History Center of Olmsted County

We’re sorry to introduce you to the cursed cast of the History Center of Olmsted County’s notorious Creepy Doll Contest: there’s the demonic “Miss Abyss” and her glowing portal-like eyes, the conniving criminal mastermind “Professor Moriarty” that will likely convince you to commit some unspeakable atrocity, and “Lizzie Bordon” that, like the infamous ax murderer herself, is sure to chop you to bits.

The center launched the project in 2019 as an innocuous way to explore its collection, although it’s since created an annual event of unleashing the horrors you see here. If you’re in Minnesota, you can attend the creepy doll cocktail party on October 23 (at your own risk, of course), and otherwise, cast your vote for the demonic character most likely to haunt your dreams on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

“Miss Abyss”

“T-Rex”

“Lady Corn Husk”

“Professor Moriarty”

“Princess Aouda”

“Cloudy Eye”

“Miss Havisham”

“Lizzie Bordon”

“Gagool”

 

 



Art History Science

Anatomy and History Collide in Borosilicate Glass Sculptures by Kit Paulson

October 19, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Lungs, 2020. Flame-worked borosilicate glass. All photos © Kit Paulson, shared with permission

In a lovely clash of anatomy and antiquity, artist Kit Paulson (previously) forms impossibly fragile objects entirely from glass. By referencing historical artworks through lace patterns, or traversing the structures of blood veins and bones found in the human body, she externalizes the internal and reveals hidden visceral structures all around us. She pushes the idea further still by creating wearable sculptures like masks and gloves.

Paulson works primarily with slender tubes of borosilicate glass heated with a torch through a method called flameworking. “Even with its sterility and stability, glass must be manipulated by hand, relying on very the physical, muscle memory of the hands which is invisibly powered by blood and bone,” she shares with Colossal.

The artist just arrived at Bild-Werk Frauenau in Germany, an international forum for glass and visual arts where she’ll teach for the next 6 months. You can explore more of her work on Instagram and see dozens of her small glass objects available on Etsy.

 

 

 



Art History Photography

An Immense New Book Surveys the Work of More Than 300 African Artists

October 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

Zanele Muholi, Bhekezakhe, Parktown (2016), gelatin silver print, 50 × 35.9 centimeters. Photo © Zanele Muholi. Stevenson, Amsterdam, Cape Town and Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson, New York

One of the most expansive volumes of its kind, African Artists: From 1882 to Now compiles a broad sampling of works from more than 300 modern and contemporary artists born or living on the continent. Within its 350-plus pages, the massive text spans a range of mediums and aesthetics, from Mary Sibande’s sprawling postcolonial installations and Wangechi Mutu’s fantastical watercolor collages to the cotton-embroidered photographs by Joana Choumali. The forthcoming volume follows the publisher’s 2019 book Great Women Artists, which gathers works from 400 artists from 54 countries across 500 years, and it’s available for pre-order from Phaidon and Bookshop.

 

Papa Ibra Tall, “La semeuse d’étoiles (‘The Star Sower’)” (undated), tapestry, 201 × 298 centimeters. Photo © the artist

Kwesi Botchway, “Green Fluffy Coat” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 78.7 × 78.7 centimeters. Photo © the artist, courtesy of Gallery 1957, Accra

Mary Sibande, “A Reversed Retrogress: Scene 1” (2013), lifesize fiberglass mannequins and cotton textile, 180 × 120 × 120 centimeters. Photo © the artist, courtesy of the artist

Michele Mathison, “Breaking Ground” (2014), steel and enamel, 203 × 104 × 40 centimeters. Photo © the artist, courtesy Michele Mathison and WHATIFTHEWORLD

Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga, “Fragile 5” (2018), acrylic and oil on canvas, 187 × 196 centimeters. Photo © the artist, courtesy of the artist and October Gallery, London

John Akomfrah. “Vertigo Sea” (2015). Photo © the artist and Smoking Dogs Films, courtesy of Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery

 

 



History Photography

Orbital Planes: A New Photography Book by Roland Miller Documents the Final Years of NASA's Shuttle Program

October 6, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Commander’s Console, Space Shuttle Endeavor, Orbiter Processing Facility 2, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Fine art photographer Roland Miller (previously) has been documenting America’s space program for more than 30 years, obtaining exclusive access to the interior spaces of orbiters and rockets, as well as manufacturing, testing, and launch facilities around the United States. The Utah-based photographer has captured a singular vision of the space program with a hybrid of abstract and documentary imagery, from macro details of fabricated elements to spectacular shuttle launches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In his newest book Orbital Planes, Miller focuses entirely on the waning years of NASA’s shuttle program, a project he embarked on starting in 2008. More than just documentation of the machine’s construction or photographs of pivotal launches, though, his work is an artistic interpretation of the shuttle program in its entirety. Miller shares:

Along with the images in the book are my accounts of interactions with the Space Shuttle program and its personnel. I approached this subject in the a hybrid style of documentary and abstract imagery to tell a more complete story. […] Orbital Planes is the result of that photography work. My hope is that Orbital Planes will give the reader their own personal view of the Space Shuttle and the technology and facilities that helped it fly.

Orbital Planes will be published in 2022, and Miller is supporting the project with a Kickstarter that includes a variety of signed prints found in the book. You can follow more of his work on Instagram.

 

ISS Airlock and Hatch, Space Shuttle Discovery, Orbiter Processing Facility 1, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Discovery Label, Space Shuttle Discovery, Vehicle Assembly Building, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Fuselage Flag and Wing, Space Shuttle Discovery, Vehicle Assembly Building ,NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

External Tank and SRB Frustum, Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-125, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Launch Belly View, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

RSS Rolled Back, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133, Launch Pad 39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

STATES, Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, Final Rollover, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.