Enfilade

Exhibition | Art of Native America: The Diker Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 23, 2018

Press release for the exhibition:

Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, 4 October 2018 — 6 October 2019

Opening October 4 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection will feature 116 artworks from more than 50 cultures across North America. Ranging in date from the 2nd to the early 20th century, the diverse objects are promised gifts (first announced in spring 2017), donations, and loans to The Met from the pioneering collectors Charles and Valerie Diker. The collection has particular strengths in sculpture from British Columbia and Alaska, California baskets, pottery from southwestern pueblos, Plains drawings and regalia, and rare accessories from the eastern Woodlands.

Max Hollein, the Museum’s Director, commented: “The presentation in the American Wing of these exceptional works by Indigenous artists marks a critical moment in which conventional narratives of history are being expanded to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of cultures that have long been marginalized. The extraordinary gift of the Diker Collection has forever transformed The Met’s ability to more fully display the development of American art, enabling an important shift in thinking.”

The exhibition is made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, the Enterprise Holdings Endowment, and the Walton Family Foundation.

A ceremonial opening of the exhibition involving contemporary Native American artists will be accompanied by a robust series of public programs.

Shoulder bag, ca. 1780; Anishinaabe, probably Ojibwa; possibly made in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Ontario; native-tanned leather, porcupine quills, dye, metal cones, deer hair, vegetal fiber, and wool yarn (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift of Charles and Valerie Diker, L.2018.35.70).

Art of Native America will be the first exhibition of Indigenous American art to be presented in the American Wing since it was established in 1924. Originally focused on Colonial and early Federal decorative arts and architecture, the Wing’s collecting areas have continued to evolve.

Sylvia Yount, the Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing, said: “We are committed to exploring thoughtfully and sensitively the entangled histories of contact and colonization from both Native and Euro-American perspectives. The Met takes seriously its curatorial responsibility to share with our broad audiences—in a variety of displays and contexts—the cultural endurance and creative continuity of Indigenous American artists.”

Art of Native America will highlight production from seven distinct regions: Woodlands, Plains, Plateau, California and Great Basin, Southwest, Northwest Coast, and Arctic. Featured works cover all of the major artistic forms by both identified and unrecorded Native Americans: paintings, drawings, sculpture, textiles, quill and bead embroidery, basketry, and ceramics. Highlights include a ca. 1800 shoulder bag made from finely tanned and dyed deerskin hide embellished with porcupine quills by an Anishinaabe woman, possibly from Ontario, Canada; a striking  ca. 1895–1900 ceramic jar depicting the Butterfly Maiden spirit being (Palhik Mana) by renowned Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo from Hano Village, Arizona; a monumental 1907 woven basket by Washoe artist Louisa Keyser from Carson City, Nevada; a masterfully carved 1820–40 Tsimshian headdress frontlet with abalone shell inlays from British Columbia; and an elaborate ca. 1900 dance mask by a Yup’ik artist from Hooper Bay, Alaska.

A core group of works from the Diker Collection will remain on view in the American Wing’s Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery, while light-sensitive works will be rotated annually. Displays of Native and non-Native art—historical and contemporary—will also be organized in response to the Diker Collection.

The Met is collaborating with a range of  advisors on the exhibition, including: Kathleen Ash-Milby (Diné/Navajo), Associate Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York; Bruce Bernstein, Executive Director, Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone), Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Steven C. Brown, independent scholar, Olympic Peninsula, Washington; Elizabeth Hutchinson, Associate Professor, Art History, Barnard College and Columbia University, New York; and Brian Vallo (Acoma), Director, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gaylord Torrence, with contributions by Ned Blackhawk and Sylvia Yount, Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018), 232 pages, ISBN: 978-1588396624, $50.

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