The Johns Hopkins University Commencement will be held on Thursday, May 23 beginning at 9 a.m. This may impact travel time to the BMA. Please plan your visit accordingly!
  • Beaded Creation

    Joyce J. Scott is an artist from Baltimore, Maryland, who uses her art to encourage people to think about history, identity, community, and other complex ideas. She is well known for her beadwork, using a technique called the peyote stitch, also known as diagonal weaving, to create jewelry and sculptures like Cobalt Rain. Look closely at this artwork. How many figures can you find?

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  • It Takes a Village

    Teenage years can be a tumultuous time of change. For boys in Bidjogo communities in Guinea-Bissau, a country on the western coast of Africa, the transition from childhood to early adulthood is called cabaro and is symbolized by the wearing of an ox mask called a dugn’be.

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  • Cycles of Change

    Filling this 27-panel faux stained-glass window by artist, performer, and musician Raúl de Nieves are representations of metamorphosis. How many can you find?

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  • Prints with a Purpose

    Take a closer look at Pauline Vinson's lithograph depicting fellow artist and Federal Art Project (FAP) employee Chee Chin S. Cheung Lee.

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  • Greek and Egyptian Goddesses Collide!

    The all-white body of Artemis—Greek goddess of wild animals, the hunt, fertility, and childbirth—stands draped in fabric tied at the waist, the traditional garb for an ancient Greek figure. Where Artemis’ head should be sits the head of Bastet, or Bast, the Egyptian goddess of fertility, motherhood, and protection of the home, painted black to resemble black granite sculptures made in ancient Egypt. This sculpture isn’t ancient, however. Artist Fred Wilson assembled it in 1992.

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  • Stitched Storytelling

    Let your eyes move around "Hourglass," a quilt made by artist Elizabeth Talford Scott. What shapes, colors, and materials do you see?

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  • A Family Dwelling Space

    This ceramic house model was made by Nayarit (nah-yah-REET) artists, who lived on the western coast of today’s Mexico. House and village models like this one were used in funerary rituals and were placed in tombs to connect the living world with the afterlife.

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  • An Education in Embroidery

    Reading, writing, arithmetic...needlework? In 17th-century England, learning the art of embroidery was considered a core part of a young girl’s education. Created to practice different techniques and stitches, embroidery samplers like this one by Anna Bockett highlighted the artist’s skill and knowledge of her craft.

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  • An Ancestral Journey

    What can you learn by following in the footsteps of an ancestor? Martha Jackson Jarvis explored the story of her great-great-great-great grandfather, Luke Valentine, a free Black soldier who fought in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), by retracing his journey across America in her artwork.

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  • What Makes a Patriot?

    Do you recognize the man on this ceramic vessel? He is Colin Kaepernick, a football player and activist. Michelle Erickson’s "Patriot Jug" connects to an 18th-century practice of celebrating influential figures on ceramics. While traditional patriot jugs featured war heroes, kings, and sea captains, this jug commemorates the link between a modern-day activist and a centuries-old fight for freedom.

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  • The Beauty of Resistance

    Derrick Adams created a collection of artworks called Style Variations inspired by the window displays of wig shops, hair boutiques, and braiding salons. Where do you find inspiration?

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  • Dancing with Color

    Inspired by the bold shapes and whimsical colors of the windows designed by Henri Matisse at the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) in Vence, France, these windows by artist Stanley Whitney capture light and color in new ways. Take a look at "Dance with me Henri."

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  • Global Connections

    Interconnectedness is at the heart of Omar Ba’s work. Exploring connections between climate change, colonialism, and the use and abuse of power, Omar’s artwork challenges the idea of the individual, instead inviting the viewer to consider their relationship with their communities and environment.

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  • Communicating Friendship

    What does trust feel like? Perhaps comfort, familiarity, calmness, love, and safety come to mind. For Elle Pérez, photography is a process built on a genuine connection between the artist and their subjects.

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  • Moving with the Military

    What landscapes remind you of home? The Great Migration was the movement of nearly six million Black Americans from the South to the North and West between 1915 and 1970. Like many others, artist Zoë Charlton’s family turned to the military to seek economic and educational opportunities and escape the oppression and racism they faced in southern states.

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  • Aim, Swing, Throw

    Throwing boards and spear throwers have been used by hunters for centuries and across regions, including Alaska, where this one was made. The designs on throwing boards are created to honor and attract animals to the hunter.

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  • Gifts for a Journey

    Robert Pruitt spent his childhood in Houston’s Third and Fourth Wards. In "A Song for Travelers," Robert explored how communities like the ones he grew up in both provide support and change over time.

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  • Land, Animals, and the Spirit World

    Storytelling was, and continues to be, an important part of Inuit life. The stories Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq's grandmother told her about Inuit relationships with the natural world would later become central to her work as a textile artist.

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  • A Ballgame with Big Consequences

    If you look closely at this carved yoke, you’ll notice people and animals that connect us to an important ancient Mesoamerican practice: the ballgame.

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  • Adorned by the Trees

    Imagine making clothing from a tree. What do you think it would feel like? How would you make it? There's a global tradition of creating fabric, called by various names but most commonly bark cloth, from the inner bark of trees. On some islands in the South Pacific, bark cloth is called tapa and is made from the paper mulberry tree. A siapo is a large piece of tapa, like the one in the BMA’s collection.

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  • Process and Purpose

    A Muisca artist from the Cordillera region of present-day Colombia crafted this male figure out of gold and copper alloy. Gold tunjos, such as the BMA’s Votive Figure, were potent symbols of power and distinction in South American societies.

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  • A Face for Giving Thanks

    Mawa means “face” in Kalaw Lagaw Ya, the language of some Torres Strait Islanders. The materials reflect the specific environment of Saibai, one of approximately 274 small islands that are a part of the Torres Strait archipelago. Mawa masks appeared during annual harvest celebrations.

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  • Duality Under The Sea

    The Double chambered bottle is a vessel crafted by a Moche and made from molds of two different shells: spondylus and strombus, which were highly valued for millennia throughout the Ancient Americas.

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  • Wearing Leadership

    What do leaders in your life wear to denote their role in your school, state, or country? The lei niho palaoa, or “chiefly necklace,” was a symbol of rank worn in the 18th and mid-19th centuries by the people of the highest rank in the Hawaiian Islands.

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  • Water Deity Figure

    The cultural activities, belief structures, and art of the Nahua (Aztec) Empire centered around numerous deities, including the powerful water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue. This sculpture of the goddess was finely carved from basalt, or volcanic rock, in central Mexico during the height of the Aztec Empire.

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  • Safety at Sea

    If you traveled across the ocean by boat, how would you protect yourself from splashing water? In the past, Massim sailors in Oceania used splashboards to shield canoes from waves and mesmerize onlookers when arriving at a trade island for Kula, a ceremonial exchange of shells that reinforced social connections between islanders.

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  • The Flowering of Long Life and Health

    Looking closely at this flower-like object crafted in Jingdezhen, you may notice that it has two layers of what could be petals (12 in total) that swirl in a counter-clockwise direction.

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  • From Architecture to Art

    Start by looking at the solid navy square in the center of this quilt by Lucy T. Pettway and let your eye travel outward to take in the progressively larger squares delineated in thin stripes—like frames for paintings or photos.

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  • What's in a flag?

    A collection of brightly colored flags hangs from the ceiling in Stephanie Syjuco's Rogue States—each one with a distinct design.

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  • Shedding Light on a Loved One

    Henry Ossawa Tanner described this painting as “a hurried study of my dear father,” a remarkably humble assessment of this beautifully rendered and sensitive portrait.

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  • Designing in Crisis

    The Traction Leg Splint pictured is the result of the designers Charles and Ray Eames using their experience making furniture with plywood to craft a new kind of leg splint for injured soldiers during World War II.

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  • Adornment and Identity

    Though this vest—designed for a boy by a Lakota artist—is small, it is rich with beadwork designs in red, white, blue, and green against a background of clear glass beads on leather.

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  • Mother Power and Protection

    This polished wood nkisi sculpture from the Democratic Republic of the Congo depicts a young woman sitting proudly with mirrored eyes, iron earrings, and an elegant high cap. At her midsection sits a rounded, mirrored area.

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  • Finding Common Ground

    A lion and an ox face each other on either side of a fruit tree’s trunk in this mosaic from the ancient city of Antioch.

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  • Monumental Grace

    What comes to your mind when you think of a monument? Perhaps you think of the Statue of Liberty in New York or the monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. Or perhaps there are local monuments you have noticed in your own community. "Grace Stands Beside" by Shinique Smith is a powerful departure from the typical monument.

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  • Resisting Material

    When you look at this wide, round jar, what do you see? The lower quarter of the vessel is an off-white color, but the rest of the jar displays a vibrant range of whites, greens, and browns. This "Jar Decorated with Resist Motif" was made in China in the early 8th century during the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) at the height of the Silk Road.

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  • Espalier

    On a background of bright red linen, a multi-limbed form stretches across the horizontal surface with its individual limbs reaching upward. The title of this artwork by Gloria Balder Katzenberg—Espalier—indicates that this fantastical form is actually a tree.

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  • A Spontaneous Family Portrait

    In this black-and-white photograph by SHAN Wallace, four very young children—wearing warm weather clothes—hold on to each other with unmistakable affection.

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  • Drawing Closer to Healing

    While the works in Jo Smail's Speechless series may seem like modest drawing explorations, the story behind them illustrates the determination and perseverance of the artist.

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  • Humanity Everywhere

    Seven distinct figures stand in a line, framed and enmeshed with a dense variety of shapes and smaller human silhouettes that appear to walk or dance. This artwork is part of Valerie Maynard’s acclaimed No Apartheid series.

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  • Painting Surprise and Wonder

    As you enter the large gallery where Katharina Grosse’s Is It You? is installed, you see a massive, draped fabric form. In some areas, the fabric is left unpainted, but the bursts of color—some disbursed, some densely enmeshed, and some just a light spray of droplets—hint at the possibility that there is more to this work than just the exterior.

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  • The Art of Identity

    A cape, a fringed veil, a decorative skirt apron—these and other garments form the wedding ensemble in a style popular for a Ndebele bride in 1980s South Africa.

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  • Not Just Any Still Life

    A blue vase by Rebecca Salsbury James holds white lilies, pink poppies, one white rose, one pink pansy, and blue forget-me-nots arranged with greenery. The vase itself seems suspended in space, casting a narrow shadow on an all-white background.

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  • Food, Farming, History, Memory

    A sharp, beak-like metal object attached to what looks like a two-rung ladder is suspended at the intersection of three thick, rusted chains hanging from the ceiling. A fourth chain hangs from the central object with a hook dangling from the end. The taut chains create a path for the viewer’s eye as it focuses on the central object. In fact, this object is part of a plow blade that holds cultural, historic, and nostalgic importance for the artist, Melvin Edwards. The title of the work, Agricole, is French for “agricultural,” and evokes Edwards’ time in Dakar, Senegal.

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  • A Rich Rainbow

    Anchored on the left by a vertical rectangle of dense black, this wall piece by artist Shinique Smith unfurls in a rainbow-like sequence of colors— blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and pink.

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  • Starry Skies

    A square white quilt virtually explodes with numerous colorful stars. Each star is unique, varying in the fabrics used, the color and character of the stitching around them, the knotting and other embellishments, and the number of points. Take a look at "Plantation" by Elizabeth Talford Scott.

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  • An Artist Honors the Ancestors

    Epa masks, as headpieces like these are called, can be relatively simple in design, but this mask, with its elaborate, multitiered elements, reflects the artistic mastery of sculptor Bámgbóyè, who is considered one of the leading artists of his generation.

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  • Face and Form

    The words “Application for Employment” appear at the top of this work but this is much more than a simple job application. The artist, Adrian Piper, has used a generic application form and rendering of a face on it to deftly contrast how applications are used to create a “portrait” of a person and their worth in relation to the topic of the form.

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  • A Multitude of Minotaurs

    Four issues of Minotaure, the Surrealist magazine published from 1933 to 1939, reflect four distinct interpretations of the mythical Minotaur by four different artists: Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, Max Ernst, and André Masson.

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  • Bee and Flower Syndrome

    Ebony G. Patterson made ... and babies too ... in response to the 18 children killed in her home city of Kingston, Jamaica, in early 2015, memorializing them with 18 pairs of cast glass shoes. Patterson challenges us to contrast the trappings of carefree childhoods with the reality of the pervasive violence that affects so many young people, especially young black and brown people around the world.

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  • Hybrid Power

    In this sculpture, Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu evokes the nguva of East Africa, a feared sea-woman who lures men to watery graves.

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  • Pushed to the Margins

    In "Spoiled Foot," artist Mark Bradford is thinking broadly about the many people today increasingly forced to the economic, geographic, and social margins.

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  • CUT!

    Consistent with John Waters’s ability to sharply puncture pretentions, "Bad Director’s Chair" ruthlessly exposes the chaos of a horribly run film set about to unleash yet another bad film on the public or into the ether in which forgettable movies disappear.

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  • Portrait of a Truck

    Dramatically poised in a darkened tunnel, this truck, named “Tenkamaru” by artist Masaru Tatsuki, hums with light. The photograph, more akin to a portrait of a beloved family member or an important citizen than the simple visual record of a vehicle, grabs the eye of the viewer with its dazzling electricity.

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  • Odyssey & Origin

    What do you see when you look at this sculpture? The artist, Jack Whitten, titled this work Anthropos #1. Anthropos is the Greek word for “humankind.”

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  • A Cloud of Light

    Delight in an elegant, glittering cloud of “moon dust” envisioned by artist Spencer Finch. This captivating artwork is composed of 417 LED lights suspended from the ceiling of the BMA’s Fox Court on 150 “chandeliers.”

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  • Colorful Connections

    Clusters of glorious color hang in the air in Tomás Saraceno's "Entangled Orbits." Bubbles, clouds, planets—call them what you will—these beautiful structures play games with our eyes. How can this sculpture be so delightfully changeable and unpredictable?

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  • Nat Turner's Plot

    In this quilt, Baltimore artist Stephen Towns shows us the hours before the uprising led by Nat Turner began—the final plotting and planning, the vowing to stick together whatever the cost.

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  • A Mask and Its Meaning

    The Pende ethnic group of the Democratic Republic of the Congo believed that ancestors (mvumbi) were an active presence in the community, whether for good or ill. The Pende tried to stay on the good side of the ancestors by honoring their spirits in community celebrations and rituals. During these events, Pende ancestors emerged from their home in the forest in the form of masked dancers. One of the dancers might have worn the mask of Gitenga, who was the kind, caring “grandfather” of all ancestors.

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  • Inches, Feet, and Fun

    A windmill, a pig, a pear, and a hot air balloon have next to nothing in common. But take a close look at these pocket-sized objects.

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  • Fighting Back For Land

    In 1911, a strong-willed rebel named Emiliano Zapata mobilized armies of poor farmers in Mexico to retake stolen farmland that was rightfully theirs. In this work by Diego Rivera, we see Zapata, an intense leader with large mustache and furrowed brow.

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  • Fabric, From Flat To Fabulous

    Take a length of fabric. Fold it or twist it. Pinch it or stretch it. With these simple moves, cloth that once lay flat on a table can be transformed into ingenious three-dimensional structures. Just look at the work of painter Frans Hals and textile artist Annet Couwenberg, separated by almost 400 years.

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  • Horse Power

    Raymond Duchamp-Villon was well acquainted with horses. He observed horses closely, drew many pictures, built clay models, and studied photographs of horses in full gallop. Why then did he create a sculpture that looks nothing like the flesh-and-blood horses he knew so well?

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  • Painting With Paper

    Mark Bradford describes this work, "My Grandmother Felt the Color," as a painting, but there is no paint to be found anywhere on this canvas.

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  • A Toast to the Toaster!

    Encased in shiny chrome, with decorative fluting on each side and plastic handles that stayed cool to the touch, the Toastmaster Toaster by the Waters-Genter Company was the image of modernism.

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  • The Face of a Pharaoh

    About 3,200 years ago, an Egyptian stone carver used hand tools to cut into hard granite and create an image of the pharaoh, Ramesses II (1303–1213 bce). He and other artisans had been charged with producing relief sculpture for the facades of buildings in the pharaoh’s city.

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  • Flowers and Prayers

    Flowers burst with color on this richly embroidered prayer mat or hanging from Central Asia.

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  • Same and Different

    If you want to understand one picture, try looking at two. “Compare and Contrast” is a tried-and-true method for looking carefully at works of art that have something in common. Here are two images of women, one drawn by French artist Henri Matisse and the other drawn forty years later by an American artist whom he inspired, Richard Diebenkorn.

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  • One Jar, Three Cultures

    The jar is called an amphora—a tall container with an oval body and handles on either side of a long, slender neck. In ancient Greece, huge numbers of amphoras were produced in clay. Some were beautifully painted with scenes of gods, goddesses, and athletes. But most remained plain and were used for storing or transporting water, wine, oil, olives, and grains.

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  • Two Views from Above

    Different as they are, both of these paintings employ a high vantage point to provide an unobstructed view. Henri Matisse’s composition of river, bridge, and cathedral is a simplified version of what he could actually see from his window. Richard Diebenkorn, however, took greater liberties with reality as he reimagined and restructured his scene.

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  • Signs of Royalty

    Long ago, the African land that we know today as Nigeria was divided into many kingdoms. The Kingdom of Benin was ruled by powerful obas who lived in the royal palace in Benin City. When one oba reached the end of his life, his eldest son traditionally took his place as the new ruler. One of the first duties of the new oba was to ask palace artists to cast a bronze head in memory of his father.

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  • TV Robots

    Years ago, before digital devices were everywhere, Nam June Paik was hard at work in a studio piled high with old television sets. He wasn’t watching TV shows. He was busy dismantling the sets and altering their picture tubes and wiring, figuring out ways to use old TVs to create a new kind of electronic sculpture that nobody had thought of before.

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  • A Woman, a Dog, and a Basket of Fruit

    At a table in Pierre Bonnard’s dining room, we see a woman, a dog, and a handbasket with green stripes. The woman is Marthe, the artist’s longtime companion.

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  • Four Prestigious Hats

    Why do we wear hats? To be sure, they keep us warm and dry and protect us from rain, snow, cold winds, and burning sun. But hats may also be helpful in ways that have nothing to do with the weather. The bird feathers, snail shells, elaborate needlework, and shiny bits of metal displayed on these four hats from Africa reveal that they were prestigious items, worn by prominent dignitaries, chiefs, and kings.

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  • Burning Issues

    On the great plains of the American Midwest, wheat fields stretch out as far as the eye can see. Come harvest time, the wheat is cut down, leaving orderly rows of stiff, useless stalks, or “stubble.” On a clear day in 1992, a wall of orange flames lit up the horizon where land meets sky. The fire advanced across the flat fields, consuming everything in its path while making the blue sky dirty with smoke. Photographer Larry Schwarm was out on the prairie that day, recording the sight with his camera.

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  • Sitting Still

    It’s not easy to sit absolutely still. We wiggle, we squirm, we get distracted. But in Buddhist belief, Guanyin sits quietly day after day, listening to all the sounds of the world.

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  • Medusa at the Door

    If you like snakes and grisly tales, you may already know about a monster named Medusa. Some say she was hideously ugly; others say she was beautiful. But all agree that her head was covered with hissing snakes instead of hair. Anyone who dared to gaze upon her face would suddenly turn to stone.

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  • Making Old Into New

    During the late 1880s, popular ladies’ magazines featured illustrations of fashionable “crazy quilts,” which were made of oddly-shaped patches sewn every which way instead of lining up in neat rows or patterns.

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  • Balance of Power

    One wears red pants, the other wears blue. One looks forward, the other looks back. Despite their differences, these two long-armed, thicknecked wrestlers with enormous hands appear equally matched as they confront each other atop a headdress made of wood. Below, the face of a woman with wide-open eyes and a gentle smile appears unperturbed by the activity overhead. Her cheeks are marked with three scarification lines that identify her as one of the Yoruba people of Benin, West Africa.

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  • Acrobats and the Afterlife

    Children everywhere enjoy the feeling of throwing their feet into the air and standing upside down on their hands for a moment or two, whether on soft grass or a smooth floor. But these two acrobats, about four inches tall, practice their handstands on the thin rim of a clay vessel nearly 2,000 years old. The tradition of Chinese acrobatics developed more than 2,000 years ago.

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  • An Eye for Pattern

    Somewhere along a riverbank in northern France, a group of trees caught the eye of artist Hale Woodruff.

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  • Super Small Sculptures from Africa

    In parts of West Africa, people speak of Sankofa, a bird that stretches its long neck and turns its head backward in order to see what has happened in the past. For the Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Sankofa teaches a valuable lesson. “Pay attention to history,” it seems to say. “Learn from experience and let hindsight be your guide. Honor tradition as you move forward.” A popular Akan proverb puts it this way: When it lies behind you, take it.

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  • Ferns for the Parlor

    A plain glass container and a bit of soil are all you really need to build a terrarium. But perhaps you’d like something more elegant? This gilded terrarium, perched atop four lively cast iron legs, would have been a showpiece in a 19th-century English or American parlor. Collecting and displaying ferns became a national pastime, thanks to a simple glass box invented by a fern-loving doctor named Nathaniel Ward.

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  • A Nursery Rhyme in the Round

    Mealtimes become more fun when familiar characters from nursery rhymes or other stories appear on a treasured cup or bowl. The little boy or girl who drank milk from this silver cup was probably born into a well-to-do family that served elegant dinners on silver platters and poured tea from silver teapots. While those platters and teapots might have been decorated with the kind of twisting vines and gorgeous flowers that appeal to grownups, this child’s cup by silversmith Albert Southwick was enlivened with pictures of Old King Cole and his fiddlers three.

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  • A Gentlemanly Pose

    Striking a gentlemanly pose with his hand tucked into his waistcoat, Lemuel Cox presents himself as a self-assured Bostonian in this painting by John Singleton Copley.

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  • A Tugboat with Eyes

    Many boats have names, just like people, but there’s something unusual about this little tugboat named Bessie.

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  • Making it BIG

    One day, while visiting an art museum, Georgia O’Keeffe chanced upon a small painting of a little teacup with a tiny flower painted inside it. She thought the blossom was beautiful but suspected that nobody else would ever notice it. Soon afterwards, she decided to paint flowers so big that people would have to pay attention.

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  • Dancing on a Poster

    This saucy foursome delighted crowds in the dance halls of Paris and planned to take their show across the English Channel to London. But first they asked Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to design a poster to stir up excitement for their tour.

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  • Exploring Space

    We have all seen models and diagrams of our solar system. The most up-to-date of them show eight planets that look like marbles revolving around the sun, each in its own private orbit. Sculptor Ibram Lassaw gives us a different view.

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  • Big Trees, Small People

    In the hush of a deep, dark forest, where huge trees tower overhead, a person can feel very small. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner must have known such a feeling after moving to a village in the Swiss Alps far away from the crowded cities where he had lived for many years. Surrounded by mountains and fir trees, Kirchner captured the mystery of the forest in his paintings and prints and tried to express what he felt, as well as what he saw, while walking in the woods.

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  • A Most Unusual Pair

    These clay figures were created more than 1,000 years ago to guard the entrance to the tomb of a Chinese person of great wealth, perhaps a prince or nobleman. The pair protected the tomb from grave robbers and scared away evil spirits so that the soul of the deceased person would never be disturbed.

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  • Two Faces of Marguerite

    When Henri Matisse picked up his pen or paintbrush, he liked to work from a model. One of his favorite models was his own daughter Marguerite.

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  • A Lion Made of Stones

    Sharp claws. Taut muscles. Thick, shaggy mane. This fierce lion is a true “king of the beasts.” He is the main attraction in a mosaic floor about 1,600 years old. Set in concrete, this Antioch mosaic weighs about one ton (2,000 pounds) and is constructed with many thousands of flat stones called tesserae, less than ½-inch square.

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  • A Face in Light and Shadow

    Meet Rembrandt’s son Titus, a likable-looking fellow, nineteen years old.

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  • Setting the Scene for a Story

    Walter Williams started his art career in Brooklyn, New York, by painting scenes of city life. In "A Quick Nap," he surrounded the little girl with the rectangles and straight lines typical of city structures. Draw or paint a scene in your city or town.

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  • Alphabets and Ice Cream

    You’ll never find this kind of ice cream bar in the freezer compartment of a Good Humor ice cream truck, but that didn’t stop artist Claes Oldenburg from playing around with the idea.

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  • A Racehorse Named Eclipse

    About 250 years ago, when all of England was crazy about thoroughbred horseracing, and everyone from aristocrats to commoners felt the thrill of placing bets on the fastest horses, a prosperous cattle salesman named William Wildman became the proud owner of a young horse named Eclipse. Take a look at this portrait by George Stubbs.

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  • Paper and Twine in Shades of Gray

    There’s nothing flashy about a package wrapped in plain paper and tied with twine. Most of us wouldn’t give it a second glance. But such a package caught the eye of artist Claudio Bravo when his sister returned from a shopping trip and laid her parcels on the table.

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  • A Mysterious Title

    Where are the magnets in this photogram? Where are the curls? Why does the title refer to only three colors when we can count at least a dozen? And what does CMY mean? Beshty’s title is a mystery until we realize that it is a shorthand explanation of how the artist created this dazzling image in a darkroom in Irvine, California on January 1, 2010.

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  • Designing a Ship on a Platter

    The great sailing ships of yesteryear that carried trade goods from port to port around the globe were amazing constructions of wooden masts, ladders, ropes, pulleys, and pieces of canvas sewn together to capture the wind on the high seas. An experienced sailor would likely have known every inch of such a vessel. But the artist from Iznik, Turkey who decorated this dish seems to have had little interest in how a ship actually worked.

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  • Two New Views of Tires

    You guessed it! The legs on this table are bicycle wheels—four elegantly thin rubber tires mounted on shiny chromium-plated rims with spokes radiating outward from each axle like silver threads. Examine Gae Aulenti's "Tour Table" and Nils Holger Moormann's "Bookinist Reading Chair."

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  • Collaborating with a Computer

    How can an artist use technology to create an image that nobody has ever seen before? How can a computer help us look at forms and objects in a new way? Alyson Shotz is an artist who enjoys working in a variety of media—sculpture, digital photography, printmaking, and large-scale installations.

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  • Moving Toward the Horizon

    In this painting by William Lamb Picknell, the low horizon stretches out under a big sky as a man on horseback makes his way down a road wet with puddles from a recent rain.

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  • A Tale of Love

    Even when Cupid’s arrow pierces the cold heart of an enchantress named Armida, love triumphs over all. Sir Anthony van Dyck's painting illustrates one brief episode in a complex epic poem called "Jerusalem Delivered."

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  • Ice Bowl or Iceberg?

    Once upon a time, before electric refrigerators were invented, people didn’t expect their drinks to be cold. Members of the affluent upper class, however, considered a glass of pure ice-cold water a delightful novelty and a sure way to impress dinner guests. This silver Ice Bowl by Gorham Manufacturing Co., shaped like a craggy iceberg, was sure to be a conversation piece.

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  • Turning Stone into Cloth

    About 650 years ago, a sculptor carved "Virgin and Child" to adorn a column or niche inside a church in France.

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  • Playing with Shapes and Colors

    Sonia Delaunay was an artist who created bright and bold designs using simple shapes and colors.

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  • A Hat for a Champion

    Everyone likes to be recognized for doing something especially well, perhaps with a fancy certificate, a blue ribbon, a gold medal, or a shiny trophy. But how about honoring a champion with a special hat? The "Champion Brush Cutter’s Hat," made in the African country of Liberia, was worn by a man who excelled at clearing away trees and underbrush so that farmers could plant their crops of cassava, rice, and sweet potatoes.

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  • Drawing the Circus

    “ALLEZ AU CIRQUE!” These are the words of Fernand Léger, a French artist who thought that everyone should “Go to the circus!”

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  • An Owl in the Garden

    In the BMA’s Sculpture Garden there is a most unusual bird by Joan Miró who never flies, never chirps, and never blinks.

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  • Recording Change with a Camera

    In 1974 William Christenberry stood on a dirt road in Alabama with his camera. Eight years later in 1982, he returned to the same spot and took another picture.

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  • Painting the Wind

    One wintry day, when a blustery wind was blowing from the East, Charles Burchfield put on his overcoat, picked up his easel, and went outdoors to paint.

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  • A Chinese Birthday Celebration

    More than 1200 years ago in China, an old man named Guo Ziyi celebrated his 80th birthday. In earlier years he had been a daring commander of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought to protect the Chinese people from rebels and invaders. Now, having seen much bloodshed and sorrow in his long life, General Guo Ziyi wanted nothing more than a few years of peace and happiness.

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  • A Dress for a Princess

    About 400 years ago in the palace of the King of Spain, all the ladies of the Royal Family and the King’s court wore magnificent dresses, even if they weren’t very comfortable. Young children were clad in the finest silks and satins, decorated with shiny pearls, sparkling gems, embroidered ribbons, and the most delicate lace. Take a look at Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's painting "Infanta Ana Mauricia."

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  • Symmetry

    Imagine taking a walk straight down the middle of "Rorschach" from the top of the page to the bottom. For every swirl or squiggle or bump that you see on your right, you’ll see a nearly identical mark on your left, be facing (or leaning) in the opposite direction. How did Andy Warhol make the left and right sides match so closely, down to the very last twist and turn?

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  • Getting Up Close to a Spider

    Odilon Redon’s "Spider" has ten elegantly thin legs, most of them bent at the joints and spread out in a spiky semicircular pattern against the wall. Why ten legs?

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  • Dividing and Designing a Face

    Look in the mirror. You’ll see that there are a lot of places on your face that are just plain skin. Your forehead, your cheeks, your chin, and even the small spaces between your eyes, nose, and mouth are all quite bare. When Kuba artists from the Congo created masks, they filled all those empty spaces with lively patterns.

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  • Bumpy Lumpy Lines

    Here’s a playful tiger by Antoine-Louis Barye scratching his back and rolling around on the ground among the bushes and boulders of a hilly landscape. In reality, tigers and hills have little in common. But in this watercolor painting, they are a good match.

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  • Odds and Evens

    Alfred Jensen loved numbers. He thought they were magical and mysterious, and he found great satisfaction in arranging them in logical patterns. Can you figure out the system that he devised for this painting?

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  • A Refrigerator in Neoclassical Guise

    The BMA’s Spring House was built about 1812 near a stream on a gentleman’s estate in the area of Baltimore now known as Roland Park. It came to the BMA in 1932 after falling into disrepair on its original site. Since then, the BMA has lovingly restored the building as a fine example of Greek Revival architecture.

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  • Staying Warm with Strips of Cloth

    Eloise Lindsey was a Mississippi farmer’s wife with eight children. With little money to spare, she saved every piece of cloth that came her way in order to sew quilts for her family. Old denim overalls, wornout shirts, and printed feed sacks that held grain for the farm animals could be opened up, laid flat, and stitched together to make a no-nonsense workaday quilt.

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  • Outside/Inside Sculpture

    Olafur Eliasson's "Flower observatory" is a sculpture that grabs our attention, lures us closer, and draws us in.

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  • A 1300 Year-Old Camel

    Many hundred years ago, an artisan in China made this camel out of clay. With great ceremony, it was placed underground in the tomb of a rich and powerful person along with other figurines, dishes, food, and fabrics to provide comfort in the afterlife. Since camels were essential to the wellbeing and prosperity of the Chinese people, the ritual was a fitting tribute.

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  • Cézanne's Mountain

    Paul Cézanne was a solitary man, more comfortable with his paintbrushes than with a crowd of people. On a good day, he would strap his canvas to his back and hike out into the countryside to paint the great mountain called Sainte-Victoire in southern France. Cézanne knew the mountain well.

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  • Poe in Black and White

    Far away in France, an artist named Félix Vallotton admired Edgar Allan Poe's ability to use words to stimulate fearsome images that reveal the darker side of human nature.

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  • A Most Unusual Chair

    Chances are, you use a pencil every day to write a note. But have you ever thought of using a pencil to build a chair? This full-size chair by Jeremy Alden is made of 600 yellow Dixon Ticonderoga pencils plus glue. Nothing more.

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  • Hot Summer Colors

    It’s a blazing hot summer day in the Dresden Gardens. The walking paths are drenched in sunshine and the flower beds are aflame with red and yellow blooms. Is this how the garden really looked when Ernst Ludwig Kirchner visited with his paints and brushes?

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  • Unusual Faces

    "Three Wise Men" by Jimoh Buraimoh is made entirely of tiny brightly colored glass beads.

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  • A Stained Glass Still Life

    Colored glass and sunlight go hand-in-hand. In this window, bright light shines through bits of colored glass, creating a glorious still life arrangement of fruit, flowers, ribbons, and goldfish swimming about in watery bowls. The window’s designer was Louis Comfort Tiffany, one of the world’s most famous glassmakers.

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  • Dashing Diagonals

    All eyes are on two daring acrobats as they dash around the circus ring, perfectly balanced on the backs of a pair of snowy-white horses. Artist Max Pechstein has created a painting of enormous energy.

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  • Improvisation

    Romare Bearden grew up with jazz. As a youngster, he lived near the Savoy Ballroom, a fabulous dance hall in Harlem where thousands of music lovers came to listen to sounds of blues, ragtime, and jazz.

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  • Icy Cold Colors

    As an artist, Rockwell Kent knew that blue is a “cool” color that makes us think of chilly lakes. By using an overwhelming amount of blue in this frozen landscape, "Artist in Greenland," he makes us all but shiver in the arctic cold.

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  • Fashionable Furniture

    Just imagine! You are a well-to-do gentleman or lady living in New York about 180 years ago and you wish to furnish the parlor of your house with a most elegant couch. Your new couch might resemble this spectacular "Grecian Couch" with bright coral upholstery and shining gold ornament.

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  • Touching With Our Eyes

    It’s hard to believe that this image of the elegant Princess Anna Alexandrovna Galitzin of Russia by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun started out as unremarkable blobs of paint.

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  • Lining up to Vote

    It’s Election Day, and voters are arriving at the neighborhood polls to cast their ballots in "The 1920s…The Migrants Arrive and Cast their Ballots" by Jacob Lawrence."

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  • Exaggerating a Crow's Face

    This crow mask made by the Mambila people in Cameroon, Africa, with two unlikely horns on the back of the head, appears to be as bold and brazen as the real crows that foraged for grain in the farmers’ fields.

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  • An Artist's Personal Style

    In his own very personal style, artist Tom Miller takes us to his Baltimore neighborhood in "Maryland Crab Feast."

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  • Racing Across the Page

    Rounding the turn of a racetrack at top speed, five horses go all out as they head for the finish line. For artist Sybil Andrews, the pace was much slower. Take a look at "Racing."

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  • Really Tall and Really Thin

    Alberto Giacometti's "Man Pointing" doesn’t look like the person you see when you look in the mirror.

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  • Framing a Face

    Photographer Max Burchartz used his camera as a tool to take us by surprise and grab our attention. By framing Lotte’s face exactly as he wished, he invites us to view her through his own eyes and participate in the pleasures of what some people call “camera-seeing.”

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  • A Quilt to Warm the Heart

    Lizzie Morison and other Baltimore quilt makers had nimble fingers for sewing and a good eye for fabric. This stitchery, signed by Morison, is just one of 42 squares that were assembled as a bed covering and presented as a gift to a gentleman named Samuel Williams.

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  • Simple Materials and Big Ideas

    A Yup’ik carver from Alaska hoped this mask would encourage the spirit of the sun to lead the migrating caribou toward the Yup’ik hunters’ camp, or cause the icy sea to thaw so that fish would be easy to catch.

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  • Two of a Kind

    We all expect our right and left shoes to look the same, aside from a scuffmark or two. But these two boots look completely different from each other. By turning one of the pair upside down, Vincent van Gogh reveals twice as much about how the boots look.

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  • An Ancient Mosiac

    Tethys, Cupid, a shrimp, oyster, spotted eel, and assorted fish are all part of a large mosaic made of countless small pieces of colored stone. Today the mosaic is mounted on the wall at the Baltimore Museum of Art, but long ago, it was a floor pavement in a fine house in the ancient city of Antioch, on the Orontes River near the Mediterranean Sea.

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  • Decoration and Design

    Christopher Dresser, trained as a botanist, had studied the structure of plants and drawn detailed botanical illustrations for many years. He was also familiar with the insects that live around plants. However, when he designed this bowl, "Jardiniere," he abandoned his scientific diagrams and transformed the shapes of beetles, butterflies, and plants into a beautiful decoration.

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  • The Illusion of Sunlight and Shadow

    It must have been a sunny day when Berthe Morisot brought out her set of pastels to sketch a portrait of a little girl in a hat, probably her young daughter, Julie.

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