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Art History

Art Museums and Cultural Institutions Around the Globe are Sending Each Other Virtual Bouquets and Botanicals

March 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Dear @mcachicago, Roses are red Violets are blue Your art is modern We love visiting you! #MuseumBouquet Tulip: Robert Thornton, Temple of Flora (1807)” —Field Museum

Social media was teeming last week with floral offerings from cultural institutions around the globe. Since many are closed due to COVID-19, museums like the Guggenheim, MCA Chicago, and the New-York Historical Society, which began the botanical trend, exchanged sweet messages paired with virtual bouquets from their current collections. We’ve gathered some of them here, but be sure to check out #MuseumBouquet on Twitter and Instagram for more historical florals. (via Design You Trust)

 

 

 

“A Klimt for a Klimt! Mäda Primavesi and her flowers send their regards to you, neighbor. Cherry blossomTwo hearts#MuseumBouquet” — The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

“To our Crimson friends @peabodymuseum –a Red trillium (Trillium erectum). These should begin blooming across New England in April. We hope this #MuseumBouquet is a reminder of better, brighter days ahead. #MuseumFromHome” —Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

 

 

“Hello to our lovely friends @hirshhorn, we hope this Tiffany lamp #MuseumBouquet shines bright in your feed today. We’re thinking of you! 💐” —New-York Historical Society

 

 

“Hi @Hirshhorn! Happy Tuesday. #FlowersforFriends” —Tate

 

 

 



Art History

Human Figures Removed from Classic Paintings by Artist José Manuel Ballester

March 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” (1498)

Despite being a couple of years old, José Manuel Ballester’s artworks feel eerily familiar in the time of COVID-19. The Spanish artist recreates classic paintings like Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting,” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” except he leaves out one central aspect: humans. Some of Ballester’s digital versions retain remnants of the former subjects, showing blood-covered ground marking the spot of a gruesome battle or even a faint outline of the sitter in an unfinished portrait. Other works, however, seem to exist simply on their own, offering a view of an empty gallery or a wreckage on rough waters.

In an interview with Bored Panda, Ballester said that while his Concealed Spaces series often is regarded as humorous, it has multiple meanings. “After a deeper look it’s not difficult to find transcendence and the multiple possible interpretations, both as new images and as related to their original counterparts,” he said.

One of the clearest aspects in this series is the way we can understand art from the point of view of each period, which has a unique way of looking and understanding reality shared by artists, who develop their creativity inside those period’s values and connect with ideas and universal precepts extended in time.

For more of Ballester’s digital creations that reconsider historical projects, check out his site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” (1656)

Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (c.1486)

Jan Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting” (1668)

Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937)

Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” (1814)

Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of Medusa” (1819)

 

 



Art Design History

A New Book Compiles an Expansive Collection of Gaudí’s Unorthodox Architectural Works

March 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Known for transforming Barcelona’s architectural landscape, Antoni Gaudí famously combined nature, materiality, religion, and influences of Orientalism into a widely recognized aesthetic that’s captured in a new book from Taschen. Throughout more than 350 pages, Gaudí: The Complete Works encompasses the Catalan architect’s projects from the Casa Batlló to his first house, Casa Vicens, to his most recognized creation, the Sagrada Família. It features new and historical photographs, the architect’s plans and drawings, and an appendix of each of his projects—including buildings, furniture, decor, and even unfinished pieces.

With words by art critic Rainer Zerbst, the book considers the effects of Gaudí’s unconventional designs. “Like a personal tour through Barcelona, we discover how the ‘Dante of architecture’ was a builder in the truest sense of the word, crafting extraordinary constructions out of minute and mesmerizing details, and transforming fantastical visions into realities on the city streets,” a note about the text said. Grab a copy for yourself from Taschen’s site.

 

 



History Illustration

Artists Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak by Flooding Social Media with a Japanese Yokai Said to Ward Off Epidemics

March 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

A Japanese legend dating back to the 1800s has been resurfacing across social media recently because of its tie to staving off epidemics. A three-legged mermaid or merman with long hair and beak, the Amabie falls within the tradition of the yōkai—which is a supernatural monster or spirit in Japanese culture— and is said to have appeared from the waters near Kumamoto. The mythical tale states that the scale-covered creature emerged from the sea to tell prophecies about the upcoming harvests and potential destruction from disease. In the case of an epidemic, the legend states that people are supposed to draw the Amabie and share it with everyone who is ill. In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Twitter and Instagram are full of illustrations, pencil drawings, and wool sculptures of the mysterious figure. (via Spoon & Tamago)

by illustrator Satake Shunske

phone backgrounds by tettetextile

by artist, painter, and designer Abe Seiji

by manga artist Keiichi Tanaka

 

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A post shared by Sonoko Takiguchi (@nokonokofelt) on

 

 



History Science

A Hummingbird-Sized Dinosaur Skull Found Preserved in 99-Million-Year-Old Amber

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Protected in a small piece of amber dating back 99 million years, an ancient skull is changing the timeline researchers have for when reptiles transitioned into the descendants of current-day birds. Found in Myanmar, the oculudentavis khaungraae had at least 23 sharp teeth on its upper jaw, which suggests that the dinosaur ate insects, according to an article published in Nature this week. Its eye was canonical with small pupils and resembles those of a modern lizard, while the edge of the socket indicates that it was well-equipped to see in bright light. About the size of a hummingbird’s, the skull totals .6 inches, although this avian species is thought to be 70 million years older. After archaeopteryx, it’s the most ancient bird and the tiniest dinosaur ever discovered. To prevent damage to the bone, researchers used X-rays to construct a 3D model that’s shown below. (via The History Blog)

 

 



Art History

A New 5-Hour Advertisement Records a Single-Shot Walkthrough of Russia’s Hermitage Museum

March 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

As travel slows due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a new advertisement released by Apple provides an expansive view of one of St. Petersburg’s most-visited institutions that’s accessible without having to venture into crowded spaces. Clocking 5 hours, 19 minutes, and 28 seconds, the single-shot video spans the Hermitage Museum in the nation’s cultural center. It includes a look at 45 galleries, 588 works, and even has live performances from Russian composer Kirill Richter and a ballet duet from the Hermitage Theater.

The ad was shot to showcase the iPhone 11’s battery life but also offers an impressive view of artworks by Rembrandt, Raphael Loggias, and Caravaggio. “This video to me is all about connection through time,” filmmaker Axinya Gog told ArtNet. “Art that is timeless meets modern life and state-of-the-art technology.” Using a complex system of handheld stabilizers, cranes to span rooms, and even a custom app to control the camera, Gog and the group behind the ad created the single-shot take during the course of six hours in the museum.

If you can’t commit to the full five-hour video, check out the one-minute trailer. For a similar look at the Hermitage, take a look at the 2002 film Russian Ark by Alexander Sokurov.

 

 



Art Design History

Historic Lithograph Reveals Anamorphic Views of Razed Bank of Philadelphia

February 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

In 1832, artist John Jesse Barker added depth to a drawing by Philadelphia-based William G. Mason to create an optical illusion titled “Horizontorium.” Part of a tradition of anamorphic works, this depiction of the Bank of Philadelphia is one of the two surviving works looking at the historic financial building designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. At the time, it was the unofficial bank of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that sat at the southwest corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. The structure was razed in 1836.

Horizontoriums became popular throughout England and France in the 18th century, although this piece is the only one known to be made in America. Viewers would set the lithograph on a flat surface and perpendicularly position their face at the center of the work (note the semicircle on this lithograph suggesting a spot for a chin) to peer over the image. The sharp angle would produce a distorted perspective that appears to project the building and its passersby upward. Sometimes, viewers even would peek through a small hole carved out of paper or cardboard to block out their peripheral vision and give the work a more distinct look. (via Graphic Arts Collection, The Morning News)

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches