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Frieze Viewing Room 2020
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Northwest Coast chest depicting Gonakadeit, a powerful spirit of the undersea | Donald Ellis Gallery

Frieze Viewing Room 2020

Line and Colour: Historical Native American Drawing from North to South

October 9–16, 2020

Frieze Viewing Room


Donald Ellis Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the second edition of Frieze Viewing Room, a digital platform hosting both Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2020. Frieze Viewing Room will be live Oc- tober 9–16, 2020, with an invitation-only preview October 7–8.

For this year’s edition of Frieze Viewing Room, the gallery will present a selection of rare historical Native American drawings spanning various Indigenous cultures across Canada and the United States.

In the absence of a written language, drawing, with its origins as pictographic images on rock surfaces, act- ed as a means of transmitting culturally shared belief systems, social values and collective as well as indi- vidual histories. In comparison to the Western notion of drawing, intimately linked as it is to the flat surface of paper, the works presented in this exhibition occur on a variety of media, from sculptural works in wood, to paper, hide and muslin. Their forms of expression range from abstraction to figural representation coded by regional differences as much as by gendered conventions.

The gallery is proud to present a curated selection of historical Native American art that showcases the high level of sophistication of these artistic traditions. From the highly conventionalized formline designs of the Northwest Coast to the figurative Ledger art of Plains cultures, from modern Inuit drawing on paper to the memory aids of the southwestern United States, the works in this exhibition relate to a variety of cultural practices. Despite their individual differences, they all share an economy of gesture that grant the works a distinct dynamic quality and provide us a rare glimpse into their maker’s fascinating worlds. We believe that turning to voices from Native cultures is not only important and extremely rewarding but it is also more time- ly than ever.

We are pleased to announce that a Ledger Drawing attributed to the Southern Cheyenne warrior artist Nah- hi-yurs (aka Carl Matches) was selected by Sir Norman Rosenthal as one of 36 works of art for the fairs newly curated section Forever. This special section will explore the premise that great art is forever, show- casing works that have stood - and in the curator’s mind will stand - the test of time.

In response to the current global health crisis Donald Ellis Gallery will donate 10% of all sales to relief ef- forts. Purchasers will have their choice in supporting one of the following charitable organizations:

The Center for American Indian Health 
Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund 
City Meals on Wheels

Download Frieze Viewing Room 2020 Press Release

Highlights of the Exhibition

Ledger Drawing P4354-25

Ledger Drawing

attributed to Cedar Tree
Cedar Tree Ledger Book (pg 25)
Southern Arapaho
Central Plains
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4354-25
Ledger Drawing CP4255b

Ledger Drawing

attributed to Oliver Good Shield (Oliver Newton, b. 1868)
Lakota
Northern Plains
ca. 1890
Inventory # CP4255b