Archive for the ‘Research Stories’ Category

Paintings and computers

Monday, August 1st, 2011

There are “dramatically higher similarities between Van Gogh and Pollock than between Van Gogh and painters such as Monet and Renoir, who conventional art criticism would think more closely related to Van Gogh’s oeuvre than Pollock’s is.”  That’s what I read today in the latest The Economist, (July 30th-August 5th, 2011).  Lior Shamir, a computer scientist at Lawrence Technological University, analyzied 57 images by each of the nine painters—Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Vasily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Mark Rothko and Vincent van Gogh.  Dr. Shamir has just published his paper in the journal,  Leonardo.

The Power of Placement

Friday, July 29th, 2011


With great pleasure, I gave a few art and foreign literature books, from my personal collection, to a graduate student today. She can certainly use these titles in her study, research, work, and leisure reading.  This makes us both very happy.  One of the books is entitled “The Art and Power of Placement“. Indeed, the power of placement, from a librarian’s shelf to that of a budding scholar’s.


Newhouse, Victoria. Art and the Power of Placementbookcover
New York, N.Y. : Monacelli Press, 2005.
Tisch Oversize: N4395 .N49 2005


Where and how an artwork is presented can enhance it or detract from it, or even alter its meaning. Depending on the display, painting and sculpture can denote a religious, political, decorative, or educational significance, as well as aesthetic and commercial value. Just how powerful the effect of placement can be is demonstrated in this book by in-depth case studies and comparisons of art installations around the world and from antiquity to the present, all richly illustrated. Not limited to museums, Newhouse branches out to explore noteworthy displays of art in commercial galleries and in private homes and gardens, as well as in a number of unusual venues. She concludes with some guidelines for display that apply as much to the hanging of a picture in a private interior as to the installation of a museum show.–From publisher description.

Chinatown, Boston

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Every now and then, a student is interested in looking at Chinatown in Boston for architectural history classes.

The following sources could guide us through a virtual journey back to the initial settlement by those Chinese merchants and students in the late 1870s in the same locale.

A Chinatown Banquet dvd icon (Tisch Media Center: FDV4056)
Videos: Perceptions of Chinatown (4:19) ; The Chinese Exclusion Act (3:57) ; Landfill, immigration & transportation (3:04) ; History lessons (1:25) ; Early Chinatown (5:35) ; Occupation: Laundryman (3:40) ; Family associations (4:25) ; It dates back that far (6:35) — About “A Chinatown Banquet” — Boston Chinatown: Historical context and overview ; Street interviews.

Watch it onYouTube.

Chinese in Boston, 1870-1965 (Tisch Bookstacks: E184.C5 C4445 2008)

Chinese Historical Society of New England.

More sources on the buildings:

book cover Buildings of Massachusetts: Metrop olitan Boston/ edited by Keith N. Morgan; principal authors, Richard M. Candee … [et al.]; photography by Peter Vanderwarker with additional photographs by Antonina Smith.
Oversize & Ref: NA735.B7 B85 2009

The research guide:  Built in Boston.

Sports Uniforms

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Speaking of fashion and costume, Sports Uniforms was a tentative paper idea for the course, “Sports as Performance”:

“For my paper topic I was thinking about looking at different sports uniforms.  I could discuss the performance of gender and the theatrical quality of some sports’ “costumes,” and maybe one I do some research I will have to narrow my topic.” 

 Jackson College women's basketball team on court   “Unknown. “Jackson College women’s basketball team on court” 1939. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.  (July 12, 2011).

The  faculty felt that this might be bit of a tough topic for the student,  but the professor also added in the email to me:

I think it’s really original and interesting, so i hope she can pull it off.” “She will probably need your help to figure out how to approach it and where to find some sources, particularly on the history of costume in theatre and history of sport uniforms…)

I must say I enjoy my work as  a research librarian most of the time; I get to read a lot. Let’s get to work on this one now.

Here is  a start. A line of inquiry might suggest itself;   by that time, new questions will lead other databases.

1. For a historical account or cases of sports uniforms, the database, America: History and Life, provides these citations:

Bloomers and Beyond: North Carolina Women’s Basketball Uniforms, 1901-1997. Southern Cultures 1997 3(3): 52-67 16p.
(request through InterLibrary Loan)

Warner, Patricia Campbell. The Comely Rowers: The Beginnings Of Collegiate Sports Uniforms For Women Crew At Wellesley, 1876-1900. Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 1992 10(3): 64-75.

Lee, James. This Club Does Not Play In Fashion’s Dress. International Journal of the History of Sport 2007 24(11): 1421-1429.

Tisch library has the following documents and books:

Sarah A. Gordon “Any desired length: negotiating gender through sports clothing, 1870-1925.” In Beauty and business: commerce, gender, and culture in modern America, edited by Philip Scranton. New York: Routledge, 2001.

 ” Uniforming Sportswomen”, a photography essay in Major Problems in American Sport History: Documents and Essays, edited by Steven A. Riess. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

2. On the issue of gender in topic of sports uniforms, I turn to the databases GenderWatch%

Fashion and Costume

Monday, July 11th, 2011

For classic paintings such as David and Goliath by Caravaggio and David and Goliath by Carlo Dolci, what would be an interesting angle? 

David-and-Goliath-by-Dolci Carlo David-and-Goliath-by-Caravaggio  (Source:  Image Quest)


Here is one idea:

I have a research paper due this Wednesday on David and Goliath by Caravaggio and David and Goliath by Carlo Dolci. I want to discuss how the choice of costume contribute to the reading of this painting. I want to know if you have any recommendation on what Tisch books/ reference to look at. Would costume/ Fashion of 17th century be a good direction to go?

There have been research for Costume Design, The Evolution of Fashion, Medieval Dress Codes and, Tisch library has a collection to support them. Let’s pull out a couple for this particular topic in discussion:

Clothing Culture, 1350-1650 / edited by Catherine Richardson.

Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500 / Jacqueline Herald.

The Clothing of the Renaissance World: Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas: Cesare Vecellio’s Habiti Antichi et Moderni / [essay and translation by] Margaret F. Rosenthal and Ann Rosalind Jones.

A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500-1850 / edited by Elizabeth Rodini and Elissa B. Weaver ; with contributions by Kristen Ina Grimes … [et al.].

Merchants, Princes and Painters: Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300-1550 / Lisa Monnas.

After browsing through these general titles for contextual contents, we can focus on the paintings/painters next:

Benedict Nicolson. Caravaggio and the Caravaggesques: Some Recent Research The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 116, No. 859, Special Issue Devoted to Caravaggio and the Caravaggesques  (Oct., 1974), pp. 565+602-616+622.

 Janis C. Bell. Some Seventeenth-Century Appraisals of Caravaggio’s Coloring  Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 14, No. 27  (1993), pp. 103-129

Always check to see if these authors have published new scholarship on their topics.