Met Museum spotlights American Indian art

Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:01pm EST
 
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An exhibit of American Indian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art throws the connection between art and collector into unusually sharp relief.

The show features key pieces from The Coe Collection of American Indian Art, the life's work of a Ralph T. Coe, a collector and museum director who played a central role in reviving interest in American Indian art.

"The exhibit honors Coe and the role he played in the acceptance and understanding of the Native American work," said Julie Jones, head of the museum's Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

The show includes about 40 objects representing a wide range of materials, from stone to animal hide, as well as time, place and distinct peoples.

Most of the Coe collection dates from the 19th to early 20th century when Native Americans came in contact with outsiders ranging from traders to missionaries to the U.S. army.

"Coe had some particular interests, one of them being objects that have come to be called souvenir art," Jones explained.

Souvenir art melded Native American art with European art, such as mocassins embroidered with European-like floral designs. Work from the people of the Great Plains evokes the men on horseback wearing feathers and buckskin.

Masks and head dress ornaments, sometimes used in theatrical ceremonies and story-telling, are another aspect of the exhibit.   Continued...

 
<p>A feathered basket from the early 20th century, made of plant fiber and quail feathers from Pomo, California is on display in New York in this photo provided to Reuters on January 17, 2012 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. An exhibit of American Indian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art throws the connection between art and collector into unusually sharp relief. The show features key pieces from The Coe Collection of American Indian Art, the life's work of a Ralph T. Coe, a collector and museum director who played a central role in reviving interest in American Indian art. REUTERS/Metropolitan Museum of Art/Handout</p>