George Catlin and “Indian” Art

From George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio (1844).Ran across an article today titled, “George Catlin Indian Portfolio Sparks International Bidding Battle,” from a couple of days ago.

In a German auction, George Catlin’s “North American Indian Portfolio” almost doubled its starting price of 45,000 euros with a final result of 87,600 euros including commission, leaving several competitive bidders from the U.S. empty-handed. The heated bidding skirmish for the rare period document ended with a German victor.

This first edition copy, published by Catlin in 1844, is a distinctive firsthand account of Native American “hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains  and prairies of America,” including the artist’s observations and images of tribal life in twenty-five  hand-colored lithographs.

I’ve heard there is a great deal of interest in Native American culture and art in Germany, and this seems to confirm it. However, I also was thinking that it is interesting that George Catlin’s work has, in many ways, become identified as “Indian” art. It is certainly a product of the time period, and while in some ways his work can be seen as documentary, I would argue that his work is just as influenced by his own cultural background as the photographs of Edward Sheriff Curtis. It is a product of colonialism and the Native people he depicts in his artwork are ultimately being shown through his lens, not their own.

I don’t think that there isn’t merit to his work. I just find it interesting that his work is likely more accessible to white collectors on a personal level than actual Native artwork due to the cultural viewpoint from which it was created.


Tiffany’s and the Hipster Headdress

I got a holiday catalog from Tiffany and Co. in the mail today, and I was surprised to find a hipster headdress on the first page! Granted, it was being worn by a small child, although it wasn’t necessarily clear if he was wearing it as part of a costume, for an event, or perhaps just as a toddler fashion statement?

I’m really not crazy about the hipster headdress. I can see why people are fascinated by them and want to wear them. But if you know some of the reasons behind the actual objects made by Native people, there is so much more meaning than just looking cool. So I say “boo” to Tiffany’s on this one. But I do think it would be pretty cool if they did some Native-inspired jewelry designs. Even better if they are created by a Native artist?

Robohontas and the Cloud Factory (I and II)

Got some better images of the work from the CoCA Art Marathon. I’ve posted them on my site, but also wanted to put a couple here. These are both the smaller of the four mixed media paintings and measure 10″ x 10″ x 2″. I really liked bringing Robohontas into my painted work in this fashion, much moreso than the pieces I did where I cut up the image of her and made two separate works. And of course, I still have my triangles! It was a great experience this year and I’m looking forward to the auction this Saturday as well. Already have some ideas for new work. This definitely got my creativity flowing!

Potlatch Fund Gala – Silent Auction

The item pictured above, along with a small drawing and a monotype print, are all available as part of the Potlatch Fund’s Silent Auction (coincides with the Gala) on Saturday, November 19th. Of course, I’ve already committed to the CoCA Auction that same night, so I won’t be in attendance this year. Last year it was definitely a great time! Hopefully these items will help support Potlatch Fund and the great work they do for Native Americans in the Northwest.

Robohontas Button

Above is a picture of the button with Robohontas that was featured at Hot One Inch Action on Saturday night. I did go, but didn’t stay long since I’d ended up picking up a shift and working all day. But it was a cool show, I like how the buttons were all displayed! There were fifty buttons by fifty different artists. I’ll have to see if there are any pictures posted later of the exhibit. It was one night only, and this is the second time they have held the event in Seattle, so I was honored to be included.