Saturday, February 28, 2009

Web Museums of the World

While wasting time on the listserv this week,
I was trying to show everyone a good depiction
of a Biblical miracle,
and I remembered the piece shown above
that I saw many years ago at the Cleveland Museum.

I love it!

Poor Jonah!

He's really gotten himself in a tight spot,
and then, miraculously, found a way out.


1) It's not now on display in the museum

2) The above image is the best
that The Cleveland Museum has to offer.
(except that for $35, they will mail you
an 8X10 color photograph)


What is the mission of an art museum
if not to collect/protect objects of cultural significance
and then make them conveniently available to be seen ?

The website of the Art Institute of Chicago
is not much better,
the images are still less than 35k

The Metropolitan Museum of New York
has very small images, as well

...but at least
they let you zoom up
into the detail areas of your choice

as does the National Gallery.

But still....
these images are just too small
to get a good feel for what is happening

The Boston Museum has these midsize images
(and it looks like they will put all 350,000 pieces up on the net)

..and they let you zoom up to this size for details

But this is the best detail that they offer
for one of their greatest paintings,
the Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace.

And it's just not big enough.

The same thing with this detail area
offered by the Hermitage

The Prado is much better,
allowing the user to zoom up to about 60X
(the above is a detail from the below)

but still,
it would be nice to get the whole image
in a very big size

which is exactly what
the British Museum offers.
(except that you have to register,
and then wait 24 hours for them to
send you the image by email)

(the above is a detail that I have cut
from the much larger image that they sent)

and finally,
we should mention the Louvre,
which is exceptionally good for sculpture
since it offers so many multiple views.


the European museums
are much better online
than their American counterparts.

they consider their mission
to be cultural dissemination
rather than high-end entertainment.

(although -- I can't find any online collections
from museums in Italy, except the Vatican,
and nothing from Germany.

Perhaps they are taking the old prostitute's advice:
"Don't give it away, girls")

the Tokyo National Museum
shows nice big, 100 k images,
except that
it doesn't show very many,
(and I'm wondering whether
they ever will)

The National Museum in Taipei
offers a few full scrolls like this one, on the internet

..which is zoom-able up to this

(depicting the poet/painter Su Shih floating down the Yangtze River
past the famous Red Cliffs where Cao Cao was defeated
a thousand years earlier)

but even better
are the zooms that are possible
for the calligraphy

(this scroll is by
Wu Y√ľan-chih (active 1190-1195)

Fortunately, they have good online displays
for the items in their special exhibits.

But unfortunately, only an expert
can find them.
(you can't get there from the main menu)

Guess I should also mention the Rijksmuseum
that shows VERY big images
of selected paintings in their collection.

Here's a nice piece of calligraphy
in an unusual masonry style.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Stupa from Sanchi, c. 50 BCE

I'm finally turning my attention to another
great civilization of the world,
and my first big discovery
is the sculpture of Mathura,
one of the styles that developed
in the 4 centuries
between the two great empires,
the Mauryan and the Gupta
(200 bc - 200 ad)

It's contemporary with the Ghandaran style,
example of which are
much more common
in American museums,
probably because the more detailed style
made for highly collectable fragments -
it reflected a Hellenistic influence
probably more popular with collectors.

There's no Mathura work in Chicago,
and I can only remember seeing one piece
anywhere else -- in the Met.

The memorable characteristic,
for me,
is the full figured, melon-breasted women
as shown above
often hanging from trees

They're called Laksi,
and apparently
they do not appear
in the pantheon
of either the Vedic religion, Buddhism, or Jainism.

(though there also appears to be a backstory
that makes them assistants to a god of wealth
who moved to the Himilayas)

They just seem to express
the irresistible desire
to be surrounded by young,
full bodied,
beautiful women.

(with which I have great sympathy)

from Kusana, 2nd C.

Nobody has a body
that looks like this,
composed with such
full, simple shapes.

but that doesn't really bother me.

These are architectural features
that also happen to be sexy.

2nd C.
And why are they
often standing on the backs
of these little monsters ?

BTW -- this girl
is pointing to the nail marks
on her cheek,
presumably left by
last evening's lover

(this is the same age
that produced the Kamasutra)

from Uttar Pradesh c. 100

from Punjab, c. 200

from Uttar Pradesh, 50 BCE

2nd C.

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15
Here's the Mathuran version of relief sculpture.

It feels Romanesque, doesn't it ?

Quite different from the Ghandaran style.

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15

I can't figure out this story.
Is this the burial of a dead prince ?

Uttar Pradesh, c. 50 BCE

The male figures are also voluptuous,
with cute little tummies

2nd C.

This is the Maitreya Buddha,
the one who is coming in the future

Here's the Mathura piece
from the Cincinnati Art Museum

They date it to the 2nd C. C.E.
and locate it in Kushan

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Murphy Hill Gallery II

Ralph Murphy stopped by the store last week
and alerted me to the new exhibit in his gallery.

As usual, it wasn't artists that he had selected,
but at least someone had selected them
(their sales rep)

And happily,
one of them was George C. Clark
a member of my art club
whose drawings show up many times
on ThisoldPalette

I've known George for 30 years,
there's always something both strange
and ordinary
about his scenes.

This is Halloween
(see the little ghost ?)

There's no axe murderer here,
but obviously
sudden and violent
death is in the air.

This artist goes by the name Isz.

I think that if a person feels this way,
she should sit down
and take a few deep breaths
it certainly feels well crafted

This is an image
that never saw paint and brush,
except within a program like Photoshop.
The artist is Eric Sorensen.

I suppose
I just like to lie on the grass
and look up at the trees.

This was my big discovery for the day,
the photography of John Segami.

I'm not a big fan of photography
(except of statuary)
but these images
just sucked me right into their mysterious world.

They seem so well designed,
I thought that John Sagami had
manipulated them as digital images,
but no.

He's just using all the tools of
of a good, old fashioned camera.

it's such a busy scene,
and yet it makes me feel so relaxed

and here's my favorite.

It feels just the way I "see"
the episodes in the Shanghai novels
I've been reading.

( I always read stories in black-and-white)