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From the elements of art to the great goddess Durga — Smarthistory is adding new content every week.

Prehistoric to contemporary

videos + essays

The Holy Thorn Reliquary of Jean, duc de Berry
The Holy Thorn Reliquary of Jean, duc de Berry

Jean, duc de Berry spared no expense for this dazzling reliquary containing a thorn from the Crown of Thorns.

Martin Puryear, <em>Lookout</em>
Martin Puryear, Lookout

Pierced with holes, this architectural sculpture offers both shelter from and exposure to the surrounding elements.

Elizabeth Catlett, <em>Invisible Man</em>
Elizabeth Catlett, Invisible Man

Celebrating the novelist Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man also testifies to Catlett’s lifelong artistic commitment to the struggles of Black Americans.

Ole Worm, <em>Museum Wormianum</em>
Ole Worm, Museum Wormianum

This catalog describes a very particular kind of room: a 17th-century curiosity cabinet.

Theaster Gates, <em>In Case of Race Riot II</em>
Theaster Gates, In Case of Race Riot II

Drawing on Minimalist forms, Gates provokes active reflection on the social lives of the objects he employs.

Africans in Guaman Poma’s <em>Nueva Corónica</em>
Africans in Guaman Poma’s Nueva Corónica

Nueva Corónica provides us with a revealing glimpse at interactions between Africans and Indigenous Andeans in the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Abanindranath Tagore’s <em>Bharat Mata</em>: Bengal School painting and the idea of India
Abanindranath Tagore’s Bharat Mata: Bengal School painting and the idea of India

Painted during the anti-colonial movement in India, Bharat Mata became an icon of the emerging Indian nation.

Hans Bellmer, <em>The Doll/La Poupée</em>
Hans Bellmer, The Doll/La Poupée

Hans Bellmer assembled and reassembled doll parts to create these arresting and disturbing works.

Kritios Boy
Kritios Boy

Following war with the Persians, this highly naturalistic sculpture was buried out of respect.

The colonial Andes and the Viceroyalty of Peru
The colonial Andes and the Viceroyalty of Peru

Despite violent European invasion and colonization, Indigenous people living in the Andes continued, adapted, resisted, and shaped Peru.

Understanding historical images of the Prophet Muhammad
Understanding historical images of the Prophet Muhammad

There are a multiplicity of perspectives regarding images of the Prophet Muhammad and whether it is permissible to make or view them.

Dedication Page (colophon), with Blanche of Castile and King Louis IX of France, Saint Louis Bible (Moralized Bible or Bible moralisée)
Dedication Page (colophon), with Blanche of Castile and King Louis IX of France, Saint Louis Bible (Moralized Bible or Bible moralisée)

This visually dazzling manuscript helped lift King Louis IX to sainthood. A dedication page shows the book’s illuminator at work.