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Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists

161 pages illustrating 73 artworks in full colour, plus essays by leading Surrealist scholars Christina Rudosky and Marie Mauzé.

Published by Di Donna Galleries in conjunction with our collaborative exhibition Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists in the spring of 2018.

ISBN: 978-0-9840447-8-8
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018903568




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Published by Di Donna Galleries in conjunction with our collaborative exhibition, Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists explores the historical, artistic and ideological influence of Yup’ik dance masks on the theory and practice of the Surrealist movement. Christina Rudosky traces the central importance of collecting Native American art through the writings of André Breton, while Marie Mauzé relays the significance of masked dances to the Yup’ik. The narrative is completed by a discussion of the Surrealists’ first encounter with Arctic art during exile in New York. 

With additional contributions by Tere Arcq, Paul Branca, Colin Browne, Mary Ann Caws, and Wendy Grossman.

Works of Art featured in Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists

Complex Dance Mask CE4297

Complex Dance Mask

Hooper Bay, Alaska
late 19th/early 20th century
Inventory # CE4297
Dance Mask E3402

Dance Mask

Hooper Bay, Alaska
ca. 1890–1910
Inventory # E3402
Dance Mask E4125

Dance Mask

Kuskokwim River, Alaska

ca. 1880
Inventory # E4125


Art in America

"Well-researched scholarly essays discuss the history of Surrealist collecting and the use and meanings of the masks. The authors argue that the relationship between the collector-Surrealist and the masks was more than mere colonial desire because of the anti-anthropocentric Surrealist belief in the power of objects."

- Christopher Green

Read the full Art in America review

The Brooklyn Rail

"André Breton was among those collecting these Yup’ik Moon Dancers’ masks as a prime example of the traditional and ritualistic objects imbued with the magic of which he spoke in an interview about his collection printed in the magnificent catalogue Moon Dancers: Yup’ik Masks and the Surrealists, edited by Jennifer Field, with major essays by Christina Rudosky and Marie Mauzé. Breton saw these masks as justifying the Surrealist vision, giving to the vision a “new impetus . . . isn’t that poetry is as we continue to understand it?”'

- Mary Ann Caws

Read the full The Brooklyn Rail review