1001 Curious Things: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Native American Art

Kate Duncan, Author University of Washington Press $40 (248p) ISBN 978-0-295-98010-2
Berkeley lecturer Dubin deserves congratulations for even attempting a clear overview ofher thorny subject the history and present state of the collecting and exhibiting of the objects created by the world's indigenous peoples of North America. That she has to a great degree succeeded is gratifying, so vast are the potential pitfalls. Dubin moves between the worlds of anthropology and modern art with equal confidence and does not mistake evenhandedness for blandness. Thus, for example, the na ve collectors of ""Indian Art"" looking for a fix of authenticity are not isolated and condemned, but placed within a broad historical and cultural framework. Indeed, it is the changing nature of that ""authenticity"" of the West's mercurial requirements of its cultural Other that Dubin records (with 26 half-tones of relevant works), as it has occurred in both the marketplace and the museum. Other essays deal with the history of the surprisingly pervasive government control of the trade in indigenous art as well as the often awkward fit between the style of Native art and Western criticism. Most interesting are Dubin's accounts of the works and views of a number of contemporary artists of native descent such as Harry Fonseca, Edgar Hachivi Heap of Birds and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan, who incorporate ""traditional"" elements into often powerfully critical works of contemporary art. Dubin's knowledgeably poised book is an invaluable contribution to cultural studies. (Oct.) Forecast: To generate browser interest beyond specialists, a possible shelving partner for Dubin's book is 1001 Curious Things: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Native American Art, a fond account of a Seattle store, which has, for more than a century, sold a huge and bewildering variety of goods, including a king's ransom of native art (shown in 125 b&w illustrations). Arizona State professor of art Kate C. Duncan is content to chronicle rather than critique an admittedly fascinating cabinet of Northwest life and trade. (Univ. of Washington, $35 288p ISBN 0-295-98010-9; July)
Reviewed on: 01/08/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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