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June 01 2018

Yup’ik Masks Transform into Surrealist Art

The Brooklyn Rail

Mary Ann Caws of the Brooklyn Rail reviews Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and The Surrealists, an exhibition organized by Di Donna Galleries, New York in collaboration with Donald Ellis Gallery. ‘Absolutely transforming,’ the author notes. The show elucidates ‘the transformations from the mask to the sculptures, drawings, and paintings in a remarkably potent fashion.’ 

The exhibition seeks to highlight the fundamental contributions of Native Alaskan objects to the avant-garde. Surrealist works by artists including Joan Miró, Victor Brauner, Yves Tanguy, André Masson, Wolfgang Paalen, Kurt Seligmann, and Leonora Carrington are shown alongside historical Yup’ik dance masks, some of which were in the collections of André Breton, Roberto Matta, and Enrico Donati.

Moon Dancers is accompanied by a ‘magnificent catalogue,’ edited by Jennifer Field. The publication contains an original interview with André Breton, the lead theorist of the Surrealist movement, on the influence of Native art on his practice and worldview. Christina Rudosky discusses the history of Surrealist collecting. Her essay is complemented by an outline of the use and meaning of Yup’ik dance masks by Marie Mauzé.

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Yup’ik Masks Transform into Surrealist Art