Robert Rauschenberg, Odalisk, 1955-1958, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has taken the unprecedented and very promising step of relaxing its copyright restrictions and endorsing the fair use of its images. This means that for most educational or academic purposes, like teaching or publishing, reproduction of the Foundation’s images of artworks by Robert Rauschenberg is free, legal, and actually encouraged.
One of the most important postwar American artists, Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) emerged in the 1950s to challenge the prevailing current of Abstract Expressionism in the US. His works revived some of the ideas Dada had introduced earlier in the 20th century, and set the stage for the Pop art of the 1960s. It seems fitting that an artist like Rauschenberg–who unabashedly appropriated and incorporated “found objects” made by someone else into his own work–should lead the way towards the free and legal use of copyrighted images.
Freake-Gibbs Painter, Elizabeth Clarke Freake (Mrs. John Freake) and Baby Mary (detail), ca. 1671, Worcester Art Museum
As we enter the new year, the Artstor Digital Library now has more than two million images. To see all the collections that were added or expanded in 2015, and for a preview of what’s coming up in 2016, check out Artstor’s year-end summary.
Two new collections of note were added over the holidays:
The Visual Resources Collection in Princeton University’s Department of Art & Archaeology has just launched an online Sinai Icon Collection. Built around the original color photography in the Princeton-Michigan Sinai Archive, these images document the unparalleled collection of Byzantine icons in Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai. They were photographed during the joint expeditions to the monastery carried out by Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Alexandria between 1956 and 1965, led by renowned Byzantinists Kurt Weitzmann and George H. Forsyth. This new digital resource contains over a thousand images that users can download for use in class presentations. If you are unfamiliar with the icons at Mount Sinai, you may want to begin by browsing the online exhibition of Highlights of the Collection.
Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter’s [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)
Let’s face it: if you live around here, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. With all the pandemonium surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, many of us are either hunkering down at home or getting out of town altogether.
What better time to think about all your favorite popes in art? Of course the first pope, Saint Peter, is a key figure. During the Middle Ages, there were a bunch of popes named Gregory and Innocent and whatnot. There was a Saint Francis (who was said to have miraculously appeared to Pope Nicholas V), but until 2013 there had never been a Pope Francis. For awhile, the Papal Court even moved from Rome to southern France, and sometimes there were simply too many popes at once. At the height of the Renaissance, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze frescoes, and Bramante’s design for rebuilding Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also collected ancient sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön, which would inspire generations of artists. But not everybody was a fan of such papal indulgence, or indulgences for that matter. Martin Luther and other reformers soon challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Medici Pope Clement VII refused to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII, the king essentially declared himself the pope of England. The Vatican countered with a series of strong popes in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Innocent X was the patron of the Baroque sculptor Algardi, while Alexander VII preferred Bernini. But the temporal power of the popes began to wane in the 18th century, and by the death of the Pius IX in 1878, the Vatican complex was all that remained under their control.
Now, the Walters has taken the unprecedented step of waiving copyright altogether and dedicating these images to the public domain (CC0). There are no longer any restrictions whatsoever on your use of these images. You don’t even have to say that they came from the Walters (although in general, crediting the source of an image is still considered a best practice whenever possible).
Note that this new policy does not apply to images of every artwork in the Walters’s collection. All of the images released into the public domain are of artworks that are themselves also in the public domain. If an artwork is copyrighted, the Walters does not have the authority to place images of it in the public domain. This means that most art made since about 1900 is still under copyright, so those images are not made available here. However, since the Walters focuses mainly on earlier periods, this restriction excludes a relatively small number of the works in its collection.
Shared Shelf Commons is the free, open-access facet of Artstor, available to anyone worldwide, even without a subscription to Artstor. Shared Shelf subscribers like Cornell and UD have been publishing some of their collections to Shared Shelf Commons for several years now. Because of copyright restrictions, the Visual Resources Center’s images are not in Shared Shelf Commons, but many other UD collections are. These include, for instance, the UD Library’s own Franklin C. Daiber Botanical Collection, which was featured in a recent post in the Artstor Blog.
You will now find a list of “Shared Shelf Commons” collections at the center of the main Artstor search page, directly below the list of UD’s “Shared Shelf Institutional Collections” (which includes the VRC’s collection). Note that all of the UD collections listed here under Shared Shelf Commons also appear in the list of Institutional Collections. These particular collections (mostly from the UD Library) now essentially exist twice within the Artstor environment, which means that your search results will include duplicates of these images. It’s an unintended consequence of merging the two systems: the people at Artstor are aware of this little quirk, and will hopefully be fixing it in the near future.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Kimbell Art Museum Expansion, 2007-2013, Fort Worth, Texas
As the school year winds down, Artstor has been busy adding new images, particularly in the area of contemporary art and architecture. Take a look at these new and expanded collections in the Artstor Digital Library:
The first installment of contemporary art images from the D. James Dee Archive, which documents the SoHo art scene since the 1970s
Thomas McGovern’s photographs of the AIDS crisis during the 1980s and 1990s