plep Archive

4th February
Gifts & Blessings: The Textile Arts of Madagascar. 'Beyond its role as elegant and expressive clothing, Madagascar's handwoven cloth, or lamba, serves as a ceremonial gift and a valued symbol of the island's cultural and artistic heritage. The Malagasy -- the peoples of Madagascar -- offer cloth to rulers, ancestors and spirits in return for blessings. In these instances, cloth becomes a material manifestation of hasina, a mystical, sacred force that strengthens human relationships ... '

Ruth & Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art. 'The Ruth & Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art was founded in 1995 to "collect, conserve, study, and exhibit", the paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts of Japan. '
The collection. (And virtual tour). 'Among the highlights of the collection are Buddhist paintings and sculpture, a wide range of Edo period (1615-1868) paintings, and close to thirty pairs or single byobu (folding screens) of the finest quality. '

Nezu Institute of Fine Arts.

The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum. 'The average citizen's mood of Edo period (1603 - 1867) was an extremely buoyant and joyful one --- not the transitory, heavy atmosphere characteristic of the troubled middle age. The word "ukiyo-e" means "the picture of buoyant world" and incorporates in its meaning the common man's daily pleasures, such as Kabuki plays, Geisha houses, and so on. The forerunner of Edo period prints were simple drawings that gradually developed into a wood-block, thus satisfying the growth of the demand ... '

Public Anemone. 'Inspired by primitive life, Public Anemone is a robotic creature with an organic appearance and natural quality of movement. By day, Public Anemone is awake and interacts with the waterfall, pond, and other aspects of its surroundings. It interacts with the audience by orienting to their movements using a stereo machine vision system. But if you get too close, it recoils like a rattlesnake.'

Mars Exploration Rover Mission. (JPL)

Falstaff. 'Expendable Explosive Ordinance Disposal Robot.'

Abraham Entertaining the Angels by Rembrandt.
'Rembrandt van Rijn brought a powerful intellect and astute psychological insight to his interpretations of biblical events.'
'Over the course of his career Rembrandt made about three hundred etchings. With many impressions of each image, his prints were seen by artists and collectors throughout Europe and brought the artist international fame ... '

Still Life. 'Today we take the idea of still life for granted: an arrangement of fruit, flowers, and beautiful objects seems like a natural subject for a painting. But this was not always the case. Still life emerged as an independent subject around 1600, when a growing interest in the natural world led to its simultaneous appearance in northern Europe, Italy, and Spain. Ever since, it has played a prominent role in the history of art ... '

Woman Holding a Balance by Vermeer.
'Light flows from a window, accentuating a hand, a sleeve, a face. '
'It washes across the wall, revealing a painting of the Last Judgment. It shimmers across gold and pearl jewelry. '
'In the center hangs a balance, empty but for the light itself.'

Ernest Hemingway in His Time. Online exhibition.
'Perhaps no figure in twentieth-century American literature has dominated the literary landscape, as both a writer and a public figure, as has Ernest Hemingway. At the height of his career, Hemingway took on a larger-than- life persona that transformed him into one of the most recognized figures in American culture, even to those who had no familiarity with his writing. Nearly thirty-five years after his death in 1961, Hemingway remains one of the most widely-read, and best-known American authors of this century ... '

Picturing Hemingway. 'In his own lifetime, Hemingway's fame rested nearly as much on his personality as it did on his art. Between his expertise as an outdoor sportsman, his stints as a war correspondent, and his enthusiasm for bullfighting and boxing, he became a symbol of virile glamour, and his celebrity even among those who never read his books was a phenomenon unique in American letters. His most enduring legacy, however, is his crisp, direct storytelling prose, which has been a shaping influence for countless writers of the twentieth century ... '
'Hemingway received a "D" in this writing exercise for one of his English classes at Oak Park High School. As the teacher's comment indicates, however, it was not content but penmanship that earned him the low grade. '
In his ambulance driver's uniform.

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West, Florida. 'Ernest Hemingway, experience the calming contrast that this Key West home offered this complex man as you take a leisurely and inspiring tour of his mansion and gardens. '

Trade Catalogues in the University of Delaware Library. 'Before the era of the Home Shopping Network, of television, and roadside billboards, businesses offered broadsides, brochures and other printed catalogs to advertise their wares. These catalogs, considered insignificant throwaways at the time, have become documents of history for scholars in fields ranging from the history of business and industry to material culture, women's studies, and costume design. From simple price lists in the eighteenth century, the trade catalogs developed during the nineteenth century into multi-paged booklets filled with color illustrations, glowing testimonials from satisfied customers, and product samples. Advances in papermaking and printing allowed for the distribution of cheap but colorful advertising, culminating in that turn-of-the-century bible of consumerism, the Sears Roebuck Catalog ... '

Self Works: Diaries, Scrapbooks and Other Autobiographical Efforts.

Perilous Night by Jasper Johns.
'Perilous Night is dark and dense. Obscure images, mysteriously juxtaposed, act almost as an armor, preventing the viewer from penetrating the painting's meaning ... '

Thomas Moran. 19th century American landscape artist.

Jackson Pollock, 1912-1956. Online exhibition of his life and work.

Mark Rothko. 'One of the preeminent artists of his generation, Mark Rothko is closely identified with the New York School, a circle of painters that emerged during the 1940s as a new collective voice in American art. During a career that spanned five decades, he created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting. Rothko's work is characterized by rigorous attention to formal elements such as color, shape, balance, depth, composition, and scale; yet, he refused to consider his paintings solely in these terms ... '

Noblesse oblige.

Poets Against the War.
Via wood s lot.

3rd February
Languagehat makes it to six months. Congratulations, Mr. Hat!

Building the Best. A microsite for Channel 4 programmes on structural engineering. Leonardo's Dream Machines (building from Leonardo da Vinci's designs); Superstructures of America; Point of No Return.
Culture; styles; techniques.
More on Leonardo.
Tower Game.

A tribute to the crew of STS-107.
STS-107 Columbia landing journal.
More via the Presurfer.

Quintessence of the Loon. Staggeringly good stuff here (even though it's on holiday).
Browse the sitemap. Thanks, Piet!

Indians at the 1904 World's Fair.
Via gmtPlus9.

Playwright exits stage left. (Sunday
' 'Don't be afraid - and don't steal!' With these disconcerting words, Professor Tomas Masaryk, first President of an independent Czechoslovakia, ushered his people into freedom in 1918. '
'For Masaryk, independence was, above all, a moral achievement. He knew his people were unheroic, and he also knew that they required a special sort of leadership: not a warrior on a white horse, but a teacher who knew the difference between right and wrong. '
'Today, Vaclav Havel retires after 13 years as President of Czechoslovakia and then - after the 1993 secession of Slovakia - of the Czech Republic. Out of the presidents since Masaryk - some mediocrities, a few wretches - he alone measured up to the old man as a model of integrity and a source of ideas. Of all the world's leaders in our time, Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel have been the most loved and admired ... '

Tasmanian Devil Paperweights.

1st February
I hadn't noticed that ghost rocket had started posting again, but he has, and this is good news.

The Treasures of Yasaka Shrine, Gion. 'Yasaka Shrine is located at the corner of Shijo and Higashiôji Streets in Kyoto. Familiarly known by the nickname "Gion-san," in reference to its location at the center of Kyoto's Gion entertainment district, Yasaka is famous for its central role in the great Gion Festival, held annually in mid-July. Lesser known, however, is the fact that the shrine is home to numerous important works of art. This exhibition, which draws upon the inventory of the Yasaka Shrine's holdings conducted by the Kyoto National Museum last year, provides an unprecedented opportunity to view these objects together in a single venue ... '

Japanese Dolls and the Doll Festival. 'This annual spring exhibition of Japanese dolls (J., ningyô) features Hina dolls (an emperor, an empress, and a range of entertainers and attendants), the childlike Saga and Gosho dolls, and a variety of other figurines. Hina dolls are typically brought out once a year and arranged on vibrant red felt-covered altars in honor of the doll festival (J., Hina Matsuri), held on the third day of March ... '

Guardian Lions and Lion Dogs. 'In modern Japan, it is most common to see guardian lions (J., shishi) and lion dogs (J., komainu) made of stone flanking the walkway to shrines. Originally, however, these animal statues were made of wood and kept inside shrine buildings. Though the two are similar, lion dogs can be distinguished by the single horns on their heads and their closed mouths, as opposed to the open mouths and smooth heads of lions ... '
Via Kyoto National Museum.

Early and Unusual Radio Apparatus and History.

Museum of Early Computers, Cipher Machines and Calculators.

Museum of Medical and 'Quack' Medical Electrotherapy Instruments. 'Many devices were developed to impress patients with their complexity and beauty which helped convince them that they could be 'cured' by the machine. Fast- talking 'doctors' would describe the efficiency of the machines and further try to convince the patients that they would soon be on the road to recovery.'
Via Telegraph & Scientific Instrument Museums.

The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt. 'From the earliest times, Egyptians denied the physical impermanence of life. They formulated a remarkably complex set of religious beliefs and funneled vast material resources into the quest for immortality. This exhibition focuses on the understanding of the afterlife among Egyptians some 3,000 years ago, in the period of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC) through the Late Period (664-332 BC). The New Kingdom marked the beginning of an era of great wealth, power, and stability for Egypt, and was accompanied by a burst of cultural activity, much of which was devoted to the quest for eternal life.'
'The exhibition is divided into six sections: Journey to the Afterworld, The New Kingdom, The Royal Tomb, Tombs of Nobles, The Realm of the Gods, and The Tomb of Thutmose III.'

A Personal Journey: Central African Art from the Lawrence Gussman Collection. 'Lawrence Gussman's interest in African art can be described as a personal journey of discovery through his involvement with the peoples and cultures of central Africa. In 1956, while on a trip to South Africa for his specialty chemical business, Gussman was invited to visit the hospital that Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), the Nobel Prize-winning medical missionary, had established in Lambaréné, Gabon, in 1913. For more than 30 years following his initial trip to Gabon in 1957, Gussman returned to Lambaréné in the summers to volunteer at Dr. Schweitzer's hospital. He was often accompanied by his wife Kaye, a nurse. '
'Gussman's visits to Gabon and his involvement with the peoples and cultures there inspired him to begin collecting African art. He initially acquired examples of art from throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but he soon specialized in the arts of central Africa, a region to which he personally related because of his work at the Schweitzer hospital. Gussman maintains that his primary motivation in choosing these works was aesthetic: he was simply attracted to beautiful objects ... '

Edouard Manet's The Dead Toreador and The Bullfight: Fragments of a Lost Salon Painting Reunited. 'After public criticism of his Salon painting, Incident in a Bullfight, the painter Édouard Manet cut the canvas apart. Two separate works resulted, known today as the National Gallery of Art's The Dead Toreador and The Frick Collection's The Bullfight. Through the use of x-radiography and intensive historical and scientific analysis of the two paintings, conservators and art historians collaborated to provide evidence of the fascinating connection between these seemingly unrelated works of art. '

Manet's The Railway.

World of the Child: Two Hundred Years of Children's Books. 'Obedient miniature adult, mischievous free spirit, or mini-consumer--the image of the child in society has changed many times over the past three hundred years. The books given to children are meant to mold or train the young mind to the values of their elders. For this reason, children's literature is often more reflective of the adult society than of the intended readers. '
In western Europe, there was no separate category of books for children before the eighteenth century. The Bible, stories of saints and martyrs, and bestiaries or books about exotic animals, were probably the first printed books available to children. The woodcut illustrations of these early works would be intriguing even for those unable to read the text. As early as the fourteenth century, children learned to read using horn books. These earliest primers consisted of a piece of paper or parchment fit into a recess in a tablet of wood or leather. On the paper the letters of the alphabet, a set of Roman numerals and perhaps the words of the Lord's Prayer were written or printed. As the student learned to read, the simple letters would be replaced by longer sentences ... '

The Iconography of Paradise Lost. Illustrations to Milton's poem.

F.O.C. Darley, Victorian America's Most Famous Illustrator.

Biggs Museum of American Art. ' The Biggs Museum of American Art houses a personal collection that has been in the making for over half a century. A native of Middletown, Delaware and with strong family ties to the history of the State, Sewell C. Biggs has assembled an impressive collection that reveals his devotion to the arts of the Delaware Valley region. '
Lots to browse in the galleries.

Brandywine River Museum. 'Exhibiting American art in a 19th-century grist mill, the Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American illustration, still life and landscape painting.'

Dickens & Christmas. 'Charles Dickens has probably had more influence on the way that we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual in human history except one. '
'At the beginning of the Victorian period the celebration of Christmas was in decline. The medieval Christmas traditions which combined the celebration of the birth of Christ with the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, a pagan celebration for the Roman god of agriculture, and the Germanic winter festival of Yule, had come under intense scrutiny by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell. The Industrial Revolution, in full swing in Dickens' time, also allowed workers little time for the celebration of Christmas ... '
Dickens' London.
Illustrations to Dickens.
Via the Charles Dickens Page.

Prairie Settlement: Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters. 'This digital collection integrates two collections from the holdings of the Nebraska State Historical Society, the Solomon D. Butcher photographs and the letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family. Together they illustrate the story of settlement on the Great Plains. Approximately 3,000 glass plate negatives crafted by Butcher record the process of settlement in Nebraska between 1886 and 1912. Butcher photographed actively in central Nebraska including Custer, Buffalo, Dawson and Cherry counties. The approximately 3,000 pages of Oblinger family letters discuss land, work, neighbors, crops, religious meetings, problems with grasshoppers, financial problems, and the Easter Blizzard of 1873. Uriah Oblinger came from Indiana to Fillmore County, Nebraska in 1873 to claim a homestead for his family. In the eloquent letters exchanged between Uriah and his wife Mattie, and in letters to other family members, Oblinger expresses very personal insight into the joy, despair, and determination in their struggle to establish a home on the prairie ... '

Nebraska Historical Sites. Via the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Chimney Rock.

History of the American West. 'Over 30,000 photographs, drawn from the holdings of the Western History and Genealogy Department at Denver Public Library, illuminate many aspects of the history of the American West. Most of the photographs were taken between 1860 and 1920. They illustrate Colorado towns and landscape, document the place of mining in the history of Colorado and the West, and show the lives of Native Americans from more than forty tribes living west of the Mississippi River. Also included are World War II photographs of the 10th Mountain Division, ski troops based in Colorado who saw action in Italy. '

Van Gogh's Van Goghs.

Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia.

3000 Miles. Rowing the Atlantic. Thanks, Peter!