japonisme: japonisme in the land of the pueblo (etc.) VI

16 March 2008

japonisme in the land of the pueblo (etc.) VI

(click images to enlarge)

For a decade or more Winold Reiss dedicated his talents to creating a pictorial epic of the North American Indian which shall preserve the distinctive characteristics of these fast vanishing tribes. The Indians of the Northwest were his favorite subject for research and the large number of portraits and figure compositions in color and in line which he made of the Blackfeet Indians constitutes a veritable saga of the tribe.

Mr. Reiss brought to his task an unusual and paradoxical combination of talents...his interest in racial type and character and his unfailing eye for the decorative aspects of his subjects. Indianologists commended Mr. Reiss's studies of the aborigines for their ethnological accuracy and the knowledge of custom and folklore which they display; and those in search of decorative art which shall also have an authentic American note were very apt to commission Mr. Reiss for the carrying out of their ideas.

It is perhaps another paradox that a painter of German birth should have been a pathfinder in discovering the decorative possibilities of the North American Indian. Mr. Reiss was born in the Black Forest and received his training as an artist with his father, Fritz Reiss, well known genre painter specializing in the peasant types of the Black Forest, and with Franz von Stuck at the Royal Academy in Munich. 1

this story is not without debate nor without sadness, but there's another chapter or two to go through before we get to that.

for now let us just point out clouds and how they had become seen. winold reiss opened an art school in glacier natonal park where he taught tourists and some of the blackfoot indians who were most often their subjects. blue eagle studied with him privately. what the world had begun to incorporate into their design awareness was 'art deco,' and current awareness is the only thing that one can teach.

we can see it above in winold's magazine cover and fred's buffalo hunt, in nc's book cover and in my photo. clouds have always had linings upon occasion, but they were never painted quite like that until they saw the styles of the japanese.

(for some fascinating background, and perspective, check this out.)

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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