There, that's it!

I cannot mend it.

curatorial study

In response to the global pandemic, museums, galleries, libraries, and archives around the world have opened their collections and exhibitions to the public through online platforms, rethinking art's role in society where survival is a primary driving force. This exhibition aims to activate thirty digital reproductions of paintings, drawings, prints, objects, music, and photographs in the public domain by many artists from institutional art history and collections of museums, exploring artistic expressions of health and mortality--not to romanticise, but rather, to borrow their contexts to contemporary understanding.

In 1794, the English poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake (1757-1827) illustrated the archetype of reason as a bearded man separating light and darkness with a compass he had set to the Earth. Bearing this architectural tool, reason creates and constrains the universe—designing the world and humanity under universal laws and conventions of society. In the last days of his life, the artist was commissioned for a reproduction of this piece for a sum greater than his previous works, and while bedridden—he threw the tinted copy exclaiming “There, that will do! I cannot mend it.”

 

By re-exhibiting digitized copies of previously-restricted works and sharing their contexts in the online public sphere, these works lend their historicity into immediacy, thereby creating the potential for a new compass. This curatorial study hopes to reflect on the role of institutional art history in the circumstance of present survival by intimating on the statement, "There, that's it! I cannot mend it.” -- an act of service, the acceptance of limitation, and the renouncing of power to a bigger, more capable mender.

John Alexis Balaguer

Hover or click on thumbnail to expand images or read the extended notes. All files are shareable and downloadable. All works featured in this exhibition are intended for Fair Use and are under Universal Public Domain Dedication (Creative Commons Licenses) permitting copy, modification, distribution, and performance of the work even for commercial purposes, without requiring permission. Acknowledgements to the various institutions listed for making these works and their research publicly available. 

Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort) 

Paul Cézanne

oil on canvas

54.3 x 65.4 cm

ca. 1896–1898

Barnes Foundation Collection

Public Domain

Shape altered

Ancient of Days Setting a Compass to the Earth

William Blake

illustration from Europe a Prophecy

1794

The New York Public Library Collection

Public Domain

Europe, A Prophecy

William Blake

17 plates: colored relief etchings

38 cm

1794

Library of Congress (USA)

Lessing J Rosenwald Collection

Public Domain 

Click to view

Coughs and Sneezes

Richard Massingham

film, 1 m 25 s

1945

Contains public sector information

Licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 (UK)

Public Domain

Masks worn during experiments with plague

Manila, Philippines, 1912

National Museum of Health and Medicine (USA) Collection

Public Domain

Young Woman with Her Hand over Her Mouth

Edgar Degas

oil and turpentine on canvas

41.3 × 33.4 cm

ca. 1875

The Metropolitan Museum of New York Collection

Gift of the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust

Public Domain

Head of a woman with a handkerchief against her nose

Julie de Graag

1894

The Rijksmuseum Collection

Public Domain

Die Pest (The Plague)

Arnold Bocklin

tempera on fir

149 5 x 104 5 cm

1898

Kunstmuseum Basel

Gottfried Keller-Stiftung Collection

Public Domain

Bone Structure of a Bat

from Die vergleichende Osteologie (Comparative Osteology)

Christian Heinrich Pander & Eduard d' Alton

1821-1828

Smithsonian Libraries Collection

Public Domain

Anatomical illustration

Arnauld-Eloi Gautier-Dagoty (1741-1771) 

Illustration for the Royal College of Medicine

Nancy in Lorraine, France

The New York Public Library Collection

Public Domain

Anatomical illustration

Arnauld-Eloi Gautier-Dagoty (1741-1771) 

Illustration for the Royal College of Medicine

Nancy in Lorraine, France

The New York Public Library Collection

Public Domain

Physician Wearing a Seventeenth Century Plague Preventive Costume

watercolor

50 8 x 35 9 cm

1910

Wellcome Library Collection

Public Domain

The Sick Child

Gabriel Metsu

oil on canvas 

32.2 x 27.2 cm 

ca. 1664-1666 

The Rijksmuseum Collection

Public Domain

La Nourrice (The Nurse)

attributed to Guillaume Dupré 

lead-glazed earthenware

22.9 cm

17th century 

The Metropolitan Museum of New York Collection

Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan

Public Domain

Virgin and Child with Saint Anne

Albrecht Dürer 

oil on linden

60 x 49.8 cm

1519

The Metropolitan Museum of New York Collection

Bequest of Benjamin Altman

Public Domain

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

oil on canvas

169.5 x 216.5 cm

1632

Mauritshuis Collection

Public Domain

Still Life with Skull (Nature morte au crâne)

Paul Cézanne

oil on canvas

130 x 97.5 cm

ca. 1896–1898

Barnes Foundation Collection

Public Domain

Nearer, My God, to Thee

Sarah Flower Adams

19th century

Version by Hayden Quartet for Victor Records

3 m, 1 s

1908

Internet Archive

Public Domain

A Saadi, or Egyptian shaman using snakes and

     incantations to cure a sick man.

T. Wallis

engraving, after W.M. Craig.

1806

Wellcome Collection

Public Domain

Moses and the Brazen Serpent

Sébastien Bourdon

oil on canvas

105 x 89 cm

1653 - 1654

Museo del Prado Collection

Public Domain

Corridor in the Asylum

Vincent van Gogh

Oil color and essence over black chalk on pink laid paper

65.1 x 49.1 cm

1889

The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York Collection

Bequest of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Public Domain

Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Vincent van Gogh 

etching 

181 mm x 151 mm

1890 

The Rijksmuseum Collection

Gift of PF Gatchet

Public Domain

A Medicine Case Upon a Fan

Katsushika Hokusai

color woodcut

135 x 182 mm 

c 1798 

Rijksmuseum Collection

Gift of J.H.W. Goslings, Epse

Public Domain

Kaishi Hen (Analysis of Cadavers)

Aoki Shukuya

page, woodcut illustration

Kyoto, 1772. 

National Library of Medicine (USA) Collection

Public Domain

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

directed by Henry King

after Ernerst Hemingway

technicolor film

1 h, 53 m, 3 s

1952

20th century Fox Films Collection

Public Domain