Synopses & Reviews
This timely new book surveys the artistic traditions of indigenous North America, from those of ancient cultures such as Adena, Hopewell, Mississippian, and Anasazi to the work of modern artists like Earnest Spybuck, Fred Kabotie, Dick West, T. C. Cannon, and Gerald McMaster. The text is organized geographically and draws upon the testimonies of oral tradition, Native American history, and the latest research in North American archaeology. Recent art historical scholarship has helped restore, to a large degree, some understanding of the identities and cultural roles of Native American artists and the social contexts of the objects they created. Native American art is often discussed simply as a cultural production rather than the work of individual artists who made objects to fufill social and cultural purposes; this book focuses as much as possible on the artists themselves, their cultural identities, and the objects they made even when the names of the individual artists remain unrecoverable. But this is not a book of artists' biographies. It seeks to inform a general readership about the history of Native American art with a lively narrative full of historical incident and illustrated with provocative and superlative works of art. It explores the tension between artistic continuities spanning thousands of years and the startlingly fresh innovations that resulted from specific historical circumstances. The narrative weaves together so-called "traditional" arts, "tourist" arts, and Native American art of today by taking the point of view of their particular and local histories--the artists, their communities, and audiences. Among the many cultures included are: Arapaho, Athapascan, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chumash, Hopi, Hupa/Karok, Inuit, Iroquois, Kwakiutl, Lakota, Miwok, Navajo, Ojibwa, Pomo, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Uypik, and Zuni.
"Although ethnography has cast off most vestiges of its sometimes racist past, virtually no aspect of the study of the objects produced by the people of our continent's First Nations is presently free of controversy. Aesthetic object or museum artifact? Caretaking or plunder? And tired notions of 'pre-history' and 'pre-contact' are crumbling under the weight of archeological discovery. Though Penney, curator of Native American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, has steered a careful, thorough course, he has produced anything but a bland text. Emphasizing the continuity and adaptability of native cultures, he is able to make objects from several millennia and a dizzyingly complex variety of cultures into a broadly coherent and living whole, seen here in 187 illustrations (80 in color). Organized geographically with a separate chapter for contemporary practice Penney's volume moves from the cultures of the Florida Seminole to the unconquered Haida of the Northwest Coast with unerring intelligence and sympathy, combining history, archeology and aesthetics in a seamless meld. Aided immeasurably by the numerous excellent illustrations, Penney keeps his narrative squarely centered on the objects in question, which constitute so far our continent's most enduring and vital artistic legacy. Outstanding maps, chronology and an up-to-date bibliography further enhance this book's usefulness." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Organized geographically and drawn from the testimonies of oral tradition, this narrative weaves together so-called "traditional" arts, "tourist" arts, and Native American art of today.
The perfect introduction to Native American art and culture, available at a bargain World of Art price.
A splendidly illustrated introduction to the rich history of Native American art, distinguished by its broad coverage and nuanced discussion.
About the Author
David W. Penney is Vice President of Museum Programs and Curator of Native American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.