The field of Native American art history, and our idea of what
comprises Indian art itself, were molded largely by the policies of the
museums and institutions that established their ethnological
collections in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Objects housed in the great natural history museums -- collected and
seen first as natural history specimens and later as 'primitive
art' -- have long been considered to be normative Native American
art, rather than as representative of a long and changing history.
Collectors' biases against Euro-American influenced work, tourist
items, and contemporary art have further distorted our understanding of
the field. Such attitudes and practices have led to accusations that an
imperialistic Native American art history not only developed, but also
maintains, the fictions of a colonizer/colonized relationship.
This collection of essays deals with the development of Native
American art history as a discipline rather than with particular art
works or artists. It focuses on the early anthropologists, museum
curators, dealers, and collectors, and on the multiple levels of
understanding and misunderstanding, appropriation and reappropriation
which characterized their transactions. The essays examine major
figures, art forms, institutions, and events of the early years when
Native American artworks were first collected, studied, and
Janet Catherine Berlo is a professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Preface 1. Introduction: The Formative Years of Native American Art History 2. Franz Boas, John Swanton, and the New Haida Sculpture at the American Museum of Natural History 3. New Questions for 'Old Things': The Brooklyn Museum's Zuni Collection 4. Louisa Keyser and the Cohns: Mythmaking and Basket Making in the American West 5. 'The Artist Himself': The Salish Basketry Monograph and the Beginnings of a Boasian Paradigm 6. Lila Morris O'Neale: Ethnoaesthetics and the Yurok-Karok Basket Weavers of Northwestern California 7. Marketing the Affinity of the Primitive and the Modern: Rene d'Harnoncourt and 'Indian Art of the United States' Contributors Index