A Wealth of Thought: Franz Boas on Native American Art

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9780295998596: A Wealth of Thought: Franz Boas on Native American Art

Although Franz Boas--one of the most influential anthropologists of the twentieth century--is best known for his voluminous writings on cultural, physical, and linguistic anthropology, he is also recognized for breaking new ground in the study of so-called primitive art. His writings on art have major historical value because they embody a profound change in art history.

Nineteenth-century scholars assumed that all art lay on a continuum from primitive to advanced: artworks of all nonliterate peoples were therefore examples of early stages of development. But Boass case studies from his own fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest demonstrated different tenets: the variety of history, the influence of diffusion, the symbolic and stylistic variation in art styles found among groups and sometimes within one group, and the role of imagination and creativity on the part of the artist.

This volume presents Boass most significant writings on art (dated 1889-1916), many originally published in obscure sources now difficult to locate. The original illustrations and an extensive, combined bibliography are included.

Aldona Jonaitiss careful compilation of articles and the thorough historical and theoretical framework in which she casts them in her introductory and concluding essays make this volume a valuable reference for students of art history and Northwest anthropology, and a special delight for admirers of Boas.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In September, A Wealth of Art: Franz Boas on Native American Art, edited by Aldona Jonaitis, gathers work by the man often called the father of American anthropology. Boas (1858-1942) spent his long career with the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest, and among his many achievements were groundbreaking studies of so-called primitive art. The 14 essays collected, written by Boas between 1889 and 1916, demonstrate the theoretical development that culminated in his classic, Primitive Art (1927). (Univ. of Washington)
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review:

Anthropologist Frank Boas is best known for his scholarly studies, but is also recognized for breaking new ground in the study of primitive art. This gathers his writings on art; many of which have been difficult to locate. Essays are illustrated with their originally-published photos and drawings and a fine bibliography concludes. Essential for any college-level student of primitive art. -- Midwest Book Review

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