Yup'ik Eskimo masks bring
$4.6 million to highlight Winter Antiques Show
Read the entire article: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/19/surreal.yupik.masks/ and The Canadian Press
Condensed by Native Village
1800's Donati Studio Mask sold for over
during the Winter Antiques Show in NYC. Purchased by a
U.S. collector, it sets a new record for indigenous U.S.
art sold at public auction.
"This was a prayer that was done, and they finished it by either burning (the mask) or laying it out on the tundra, and then they would be remade every year for the next dance," said anthropologist Ann Fienup Riordan.
The masks sold at last month's auction are among the rarest and most famous shaman masks of the Yup'ik peoples. In 1945, surrealist artist Enrico Donati added them to his collection. They inspired his works and those of other surrealists, including Andre Breton.
"They were functioning things, but these artists made them extraordinary, though they weren't seen as art until later," said Donald Ellis, an antique art dealer. "Breton famously said that the first time he saw a Yup'ik mask, he was angry and said 'These are more surreal than we are,'"
While the masks may have inspired artists, their importance to the Yup'ik peoples was much greater. The Yup'ik people lived in harsh areas, and the masks were used to request abundance for the years to come -- be it good weather, game or driftwood.
Justin McCarthy is
a collections manager at the
Burke Museum in Seattle. He is also Adam Hollis Twitchell's great grandson.
McCarthy had hoped a museum or wealthy collector would
purchase the masks, then donate
them to the
Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center and Museum in
Riordan agrees. She works closely with Yup'ik people and
elders and says they are glad that museums kept some specimens.
Backgrounds: Robert Kaufman Fabrics: http://www.robertkaufman.com/
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