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January 19 2011

Two Yup’ik Dance Masks Could Set Sales Record

The Globe and Mail

Writing for the Globe and Mail, James Adams notes that two Yup’ik ceremonial dance masks could set a new record price for a Native American work of art at the 57th annual Winter Antiques Show, New York. 'What make the masks so valuable are their provenance and historic import, their museum-like quality and relative rarity and, oh yes, their beauty,’ the author marvels.

The Yup’ik masks were previously in the collection of Italian-American Surrealist artist Enrico Donati, whose paintings and sculpture and included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. He had acquired them from New York dealer Julius Carlebach, who, in turn, had purchased the masks from the National Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in New York when the museum ran into financial troubles. The deaccession of part of its collection included more than two dozen Yup'ik masks collected at the turn of the 20th century by a trader in Alaska named Adams Hollis Twitchell.

Another Yup’ik mask originally collected by Twitchell and traded first to the Heye Foundation and then Carlebach was acquired by leading surrealist André Breton. It is now in the permanent collection of the Louvre, Paris. The Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland also houses a Yup’ik mask collected by Twitchell. Writing in his publication for the Winter Antiques Show, Ellis notes: 'The influence of these masks on the evolution of Western art must not be underestimated.’

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Two Yup’ik Dance Masks Could Set Sales Record