New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 2 January 11 to 17, 2012

Native American Influences

Kindred Spirits, Native American Influences on 20th Century Art
Ed Barnas
White Mans Moccasins by Lee Marmon. Source:
Lee Marmon, "White Mans Moccasins" 1954

The influence of Native Americans on art is a large subject. The current exhibit at the Peter Blum Soho Gallery chooses to focus on the influence of native peoples of the Southwestern US on a number of 20th Century artists, including Josef Albers, Georgia O’Keefe, Max Ernst, and Jackson Pollock. To provide a context for the influence, the exhibit includes funerary vessels, pottery, painting, and weavings from fourteen Southwestern tribes as well as mid-nineteenth century books illustrated by Karl Bodmer and others.

Most of the photographs in this show fall into the category of “context and framework”. There are classic portraits from around the turn of the last century by Edward Curtis as well as by Sumner Matteson, Adam Clark Vroman and John Karl Hillers, along with landscapes and views by Ansel Adams and Paul Strand. More interesting, however, are the works of Lee Marmon and the collaboration of Andrea Geyer and Simon J. Ortiz.

Spiral Lands / Chapter 3 by Andrea Geyer & Simon J. Ortiz. Source:
Andrea Geyer & Simon J. Ortiz, "Spiral Lands / Chapter 3" 2010

Lee Marmon of the Laguna photographs from within the culture. Three Eagle Dancers seen from high above is notable for its design, while “White Man’s Moccasins”, an image of a seated elder wearing sneakers, for its humor. Four pieces from the Spiral Lands/Chapter 3 series by Andrea Geyer and Simon J. Ortiz are included. Each consists of a black and white Southwestern landscape by German-born Geyer with text by Ortiz of the Acoma Pueblo floating on the glass above the image –– an arresting combination of external vision and indigenous commentary.

Perhaps now is a time for a show exploring the interaction of internal and external influences on Native American photographers?

Kindred Spirits, Native American Influences on 20th Century Art

Peter Blum Soho
99 Wooster St.
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

212 343 0441

Saturday, October 29 to
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Hours: Tue-Fri 10 to 6; Sat, 11 to 6