All the books reviews
Art of the Ancestors : Antique North American Indian Art - (ENGLISH)
Ce grand format met en lumière l’artisanat amérindien du continent nord-américain de 200 av. J.-C. jusqu’au début des années 1900. Présentée en pleine page, chaque pièce est presque un chef-d’oeuvre dans sa catégorie. Parmi la centaine d’objets on trouve quelques exemples de poteries préhistoriques, d’ivoires inuit, de paniers tressés, des vêtements et des sacs matelassés brodés de perles et des masques de la côte nord-ouest et des Inuit du Nunavut. L’ouvrage est l’oeuvre du marchand et collectionneur George Everett Shaw (déjà auteur de Art of Grace and Passion, en 1999) avec la contribution de spécialistes comme Steven C. Brown, Benson Lanford, et Bill Mercer.
Art of the Arctic: Reflections of the Unseen - (ENGLISH)
Specializing in high-end Native American art, the Donald Ellis Gallery has been producing annual catalogs for many years. The present book, while nominally this year’s edition, is in fact far more. Divided into two sections, one serves as a permanent record of the Arctic masks that the gallery has handled over the course of Ellis’ forty years as an art dealer, while the second documents prehistoric Bering Sea ivories, in part from the Bill Wolf Collection and in part from the gallery’s offerings over the same span of years. In both sections, each object is illustrated full page with striking photography. This is a beautifully designed and executed book that documents some of the finest examples of Arctic masks and Bering Sea ivories that have passed through private hands.
Arts of Diplomacy: Lewis & Clark’s Indian Collection - (ENGLISH)
When Merriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery on their epic journey across the American West in the first decade of the nineteenth century, they were acting not only as explorers but also as diplomatic emissaries from President Thomas Jefferson’s government to the Indian peoples they encountered. This fresh examination of the rare and beautiful Native American objects related to the expedition challenges the conventional wisdom about Lewis and Clark, and places their journey in the con text of a complex process of mutual discovery between representatives of very different cultures. Here, Native Americans are portrayed as active participants in these historic encounters, who selected objects of significance to bestow as gifts or use in trade, while skillfully negotiating their own strategic interests. The vehicle for this analysis is the extraordinary collection of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Native American objects from the Prairie, Plains, and Pacific Northwest that is today housed at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. Long thought to represent the only remaining ethnographic items acquired by the expedition, recent examination has shown that some belong to a newly identified collection of early Native American materials that was assembled two decades later by Lt. George C. Hutter, Clarke’s nephew by marriage. McLaughlin’s text is accompanied by contributions by Gaylord Torrence, Anne-Marie Victor- Howe, T. Rose Holdcraft, Pat Courtney Gold, and Mike Cross, as well as by excellent photographs of the Peabody collection by Hillel S. Burger.
Arts Premiers. L'évolution d'un regard - (FRENCH)
With the support of a well-documented text, Lionel Richard lucidly and intelligently provides insight into the history of tribal art objects in Western museum collections. He also looks at the histories of the museums themselves, of curiosity cabinets, and of the first ethnographic collections. The six chapters include illustrations of superb works from the Musee du Quai Branly collections. The author describes the discovery of the New World, what happened to works brought to Europe from foreign lands, the nature of the rupture with classical aesthetic norms, and the reaction of Western artists and collectors to "primitive" art. The last portion of the book is devoted to what the author calls "the time of consecration."
Arts rupestres et mythologies en Afrique - (FRENCH)
This work is a panorama of African rock art that examines every region on the continent. These range in style from representational realism to highly abstract symbolism. The author, an ethnologist, anthropologist, and a researcher at the Centre National de la recherche scientifique, is a specialist in the prehistory and rock art of Saharan Africa. In this magnificently illustrated volume, he analyzes the meanings of rock art motifs and refers to contemporary indigenous legends as a way of better understanding the prehistoric mythology of those who created them.
Asking for Eyes. The Visual Voice of Southeast Africa - (ENGLISH)
This essay collection was the accompaniment for an exhibition that was created and developed by students of Sowell's Curatorial Practices Seminar at San Diego State University in spring 2004. The exhibition and catalogue feature the eastern South African art from the Edward M. Smith Family Art Foundation and explore both the meaning and functionality of art and objects in this area. The headrest the bride brings with her to her new home, the importance of fertility dolls, and the art and meaning of beadwork are among the topics investigated. The catalogue is small but thoroughly illustrated and stands on its own as a valid resource for those who missed the exhibition.
At the Heart of precolumbian America - (ENGLISH)
This handsome volume opens with a dedication written in Geneva in June 2003: Gérard Geiger offers the book to his two children, Julien and Florian. But underneath the dedication is a solemn note from the publishers in Milan in October 2003: “Just as we were putting the finishing touches on this book, the tragic death of Gérard Geiger plunged us into affliction. It seemed to us that the pursuit and completion of this book we created together would be the highest tribute we could pay to the man and his achievement as a collector.” In a brief introduction, Geiger recounts how his passion for Pre-Columbian artifacts began with sticking posters on the walls of Geneva to promote an exhibition of Galerie Mermoz in Paris. He was paid with a small stone Mezcala artifact. Enthralled by the austere beauty of the unassuming sculpture, he began to study Pre- Columbian cultures and to collect their artifacts with an aesthetic appeal. In time, Geiger amassed an impressive collection of artifacts, drawn from the diverse cultures of Mesoamerica and South America. The collection is presented here. It is beautifully photographed by Pierre-Yves Dhinaut. Brief essays about works in the collection add intellectual depth. Especially compelling is a wide-ranging discussion by the late Frances Pratt, in which she explores the awkward relationship between archaeologists and connoisseurs of ancient artifacts. Many of the works in the Geiger collection are from Guerrero, a state in western Mexico that appears to have been an important site for cultural innovation and, for some 100 years, has been the source from which enigmatic artifacts have emerged. Archaeologists, however, are generally less enthusiastic about sites that do not hold the promise of unearthing monuments or architecture, and next to no systematic, scientific excavations have been conducted in Guerrero. The Geiger collection is an invitation to study--and to marvel at-- the finely crafted objects of Pre-Columbian cultures, so stunning that they are truly worthy of being judged works of fine art.
Atua. Sacred gods from Polynesia - (ENGLISH)
The Polynesian concept of atua—of gods, figurative objects and associated beliefs—developed over thousands of years and spread throughout the region. The superb examples of sculpture illustrated in this volume provide an island-by-island insight into this rich and intriguing heritage. Intrepid seafarers first discovered Polynesia 3000 years ago and, gradually, the region came to be inhabited by the communities established by these explorers. Across central and eastern Polynesia, from the Cook, Austral, Society and Marquesas islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, Tahiti, Rapa Nui, the Hawaiian Islands and Aotearoa New Zealand, unique, yet coherent, societies developed. With that a complex and sustaining spiritual world came into being. Sculptures of ancestral gods connected the Polynesians with Te Po, the supernatural world, giving them strength and sacred knowledge. A hierarchy of supernatural beings—atua—resides within Te Po, inhabiting animals and birds, or particular aspects of the landscape. Among the atua were the deified spirits of human ancestors,particularly those famous for their invincibility, political strength or navigation skill. Polynesians created, revered and communicated with their atua in a relationship of profound intimacy. This way of life suffered a violent rupture with the arrival of Christianity in the eighteenth century. It is this volume’s privilege to chronicle the integral role played by the atua in Polynesian daily life through images and text that convey the power of a still-living culture.
Babembe Sculpture - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This abundantly illustrated work is the first monograph dedicated to the artistic and symbolic production of the Babembe and presents the wooden anthropomorphic sculptures that the people of this culture in the Republic of Congo created for their ancestor cult. Most of the pieces illustrated are reproduced here for the first time and they come both from private and museum collections. The work represents the culmination of a fruitful collaboration between the passion of Alain Lecomte, who assembled the pieces that make up the book's visual presence, and the erudition of Raoul Lehuard, who reveals a wealth of information culled from his many years of research and experience.
Bakongo: “Les Fétiches” - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
In recent years, Alain Lecomte has been involved in the publication of monographs dedicated to the peoples of Central Africa, a subject he is particularly interested in and one that he has repeatedly honored in his Paris gallery through various thematic exhibitions. Produced in collaboration with Raoul Lehuard, founder of the legendary magazine Arts d’Afrique Noire, Bakongo : “Les Fétiches” also features contributions by brothers Steve-Régis “Kovo” N’Sondé and Jean N’Sondé. Of Bakongo origin and researchers in African studies, these authors contributed two interesting essays, the first a philosophical reflection on the concepts of tradition and aesthetics within the Kongo context, and the second an analysis of various perspectives on Kongo arts. Illustrated with photographs of unparalleled quality, this book offers a remarkable synthesis of visuals and information about this artistic tradition that is simultaneously iconic and rich in formal nuance. Most of the examples are in private collections and have been the subject of rigorous stylistic analysis by the author in an effort to determine their origin. Given the paucity of accurate collection information, this is a complex and necessary exercise.