Art history

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Rembrandt’s famous painting – commonly known as The Night Watch – doesn’t even take place at night. 'Rembrandt' via

How the painting got its name

The history of the picture title is really a history of the last 300 years.
White painter William Gilbert Gaul’s To the End (1907-1909) uses the loyal slave trope. Wikimedia Commons

Exploring how black and white artists depict race

Black Like Us? – a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art – looks at how blackness has been portrayed in American art through the years.
Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (commonly known as Whistler’s Mother), by James McNeill Whistler (1871). Wikimedia Commons

The extraordinary life of Whistler’s mother

The famous portrait, usually resident in France, is on a rare tour in the US. From looking at it, one might assume its subject had a tranquil, even monotonous, life. But one would be wrong.
A detail from the north wall of Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry. Diego Rivera, 1932. Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit, 1932: when Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo came to town

A new exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts highlights a controversial mural commissioned during a period fraught with social unrest.
Drawings by male warriors – like Black Hawk’s ‘Dream or Vision or Himself Changed to a Destroyer or Riding a Bufalo Eagle (1880-1881)’ – often depicted visions perceived during meditation and fasting. New York State Historical Association, Fenimore Art Museum/John Bigelow Taylor

From the Great Plains, Native American masterpieces emerged

A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates 2,000 years of artistic achievement.
Studies of a reclining male nude: Adam in the fresco ‘The Creation of Man’ on the vault of the Sistine Chapel. c. 1511. Michelangelo. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The truth about sex in ancient Greece

Here are the facts behind four commonly held beliefs about Ancient Greek sexuality.
Some of the earliest applications of photography came in the fields of archaeology and botany. Pictured is a photograph from botanist Anna Atkins' Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843).

How photography evolved from science to art

Because a photograph came from a machine – not a human hand – many were not entirely sure if it could be called art.
A 1893 self-portrait of the French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Wikimedia Commons

How computer science was used to reveal Gauguin’s printmaking techniques

Artist Paul Gauguin is perhaps most famous for his colorful paintings of Tahitian life. But for years, art historians puzzled over his lesser-known prints: how did he form, layer and transfer images from one medium to another?

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