Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lines on the Horizon at the de Young --- Day 3/156

Walk: Presidio Golf Club, Union Square
Distance: 10 blocks

Navajo Serape, Wool, 1850, weft-faced plain weave,interlocked tapestry weave, eccentric curved weft, 91 x 62 in.

The de Young Museum recently received a gift of Native American art that revolutionizes its collection in very much the same manner the Rockefeller Collection of American Art did in the late 1970's.  The gift includes over 200 objects spanning over 1000 years of artistic production, and each piece is said to be extraordinary.  Ciwt does not purport to know much about Native American art, but she does know the businessman/banker donor, Thomas W. Weisel, to be an intense and exacting student, supporter and collector of a broad range of art.  If he has focused for over three decades on this collection, there is no doubt it is superior bordering on perfect.

The present show at the de Young - titled Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection -  -  is a representative sampling of around 70 objects from the gift that demonstrate its depth and scope. Items are aranged according to culture and chronology and examine the long history of changing regional styles throughout the American Southwest (and beyond with a few pieces from Alaska and the Northwest).

Even with no knowledge of this art, one can easily see the quality of the pieces, and the signage is educational so in all it is a very deep, interesting and important show.  The only 'work-around' Ciwt noticed was the dominating aspect of the large and vibrant Navajo blankets and serapes.  You walk right at the one below when you enter the show, and then the entire wall to its right wrapping around to the far wall there are more of these large and visually arresting pieces.

The pottery - which is Wonderful - is in plexi-cases in the middle of that room.  They may even be more artistically and historically significant, but it takes some effort to shift your viewing attention to studying them in their small sizes, delicate materials and muted colors.  Certainly an effort worth making; these are some of the oldest or rarest pieces, and the Plains Indians painted ledgers later in the show are the first enter the museum's collection.  I don't know how the visual domination of the blankets could have been avoided, but, if you get to the show, spend time with the absolutely charming smaller artworks.

Mimbres Vessel with ring-tailed cat design, Earthenware with pigment, 1010-1130, 3 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Mimbres Plate, Earthenware with pigment, 1010-1130, 3 9/16 x 9 1/4 in.

Vessel attributed to Nampeyo**, Earthenware with polychrone, 1890-1910, 2 15/16 x 10 1/16 in.

Weisel Collection
Navajo Blanket, Wool, 1849, weft-faced plain weave, diagonal-join tapestry weave, eccentric curved weft, 51 3/4 x 69 1/2 in.

**  See CIWT Day 57 for Nampeyo

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