Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection at The Met Fifth Avenue, October 28, 2016 – March 19, 2017

“An Alaskan shaman in dialogue with the spirit world; an Arctic hunter of sea mammals, bears, and caribou; the Lakota warrior No Two Horns; the Battle of Little Bighorn veteran Standing Bear; a Wasco woman of the Columbia River Plateau; and the celebrity basket weavers Louisa Keyser and Elizabeth Hickox—these are a few of the authors of the masterpieces of indigenous North American art highlighted in this exhibition.

These artists were not grounded in a single locale or historical moment. Two thousand years and as many miles separate the enigmatic human form carved from walrus ivory and found in an ancient Bering Strait burial site and the perfection of the basket woven in the early twentieth century for the art market in northern California. By employing such materials as driftwood, clay, buffalo hide, rosebud, maidenhair fern, bear grass, and porcupine quills, these individuals transformed elemental matter into enduring works of transcendent beauty, leading them to be recognized as masters within their communities and beyond. Their materials and imagery at once instill wonder and chronicle chapters of North America’s history: The stark black notations emblazoned on ancient Puebloan pottery bear witness to the all-consuming quest of its earliest settlers for life-giving water. The glass beads and silk adorning a delicately composed moccasin attest to the influx of manufactured goods that accompanied the establishment of eighteenth-century European trade centers. The unflinching pictorial accounts of Plains warriors detail the violence and devastation of colonialism.

We celebrate the Native North American legacy through a selection from the renowned Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. Drawn to the abstract aesthetic of both Native American art and modernism, the Dikers have sought to assemble outstanding works over the past several decades that reflect the breadth of vision achieved by indigenous artists across North America—a vision defined by its earliest and most enduring artistic heritage.” — Introductory Wall Text

1ab_dress-and-belt-with-awl-case

Dress and Belt with Awl Case. Unrecorded Wasco Artist. Wasco, ca. 1870. Hide, glass, shell, bone, teeth, metal. H. 52 × W. 43 1/2 in. (132.1 × 110.5 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

3_mans-shirt

Man’s Shirt. Unrecorded Niimiipu (Nez Perce) Artist. Niimiipu (Nez Perce), ca. 1850. Hide, quill, horsehair, sinew, wool, glass, pigment. H. 32 11/16 × W. 60 11/16 in. (83 × 154.1 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

4_boys-shirt

Boy’s Shirt. Unrecorded Apsaalooke (Crow) Artist. Apsáalooke (Crow), 1870–1900. Hide, glass, cotton, wool, sinew. H. 21 5/16 × W. 31 1/2 in. (54.1 × 80 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5_tobacco-bag

Tobacco Bag. Unrecorded Tsitsistas (Cheyenne) Artist. Tsitsistas (Cheyenne), 1860–90. Hide, cotton, glass, horsehair, metal, sinew. H.16 7/8 × W. 6 1/4 × D. 1 1/2 in. (42.9 × 15.9 × 3.8 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

6_shield

Shield. Joseph No Two Horns, He Nupa Wanica. Hunkpapa (Lakota), ca. 1885. Hide, feathers, pigment, ink, sinew, cotton, plant fiber, wood. H. 16 15/16 × W. 3 3/16 in. (43 × 8.1 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

8_kiowa-vanquishing-navajo

Kiowa Vanquishing Navajo. Artist A (Julian Scott Ledger). Ka’igwu (Kiowa), 1880. Pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper. H. 7 1/2 × W. 12 in. (19.1 × 30.5 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

10_twelve-high-ranking-kiowa-men

Twelve High Ranking Kiowa Men. Artist B (Julian Scott Ledger). Kiowa, 1880. Pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper. H. 7 1/2 × W. 12 in. (19.1 × 30.5 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

13_mans-coat

Man’s Coat. Unrecorded Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Artist. Lenni Lenape (Delaware), ca. 1840. Hide, cloth, glass. H. 39 × W. 63 in. (99.1 × 160 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

14a-b_moccasins

Moccasins. Unrecorded Muscogee (Creek) Artist. Muscogee (Creek), ca. 1830. Hide, silk, cotton, glass, metal. H. 3 7/8 × W. 9 × D. 4 in. (9.8 × 22.9 × 10.2 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

15_pipe-bowl

Pipe Bowl. Unrecorded Muscogee (Creek) (?) Artist. Muscogee (Creek) (?), ca. 1780. Wood, metal. H. 3 1/2 × W. 6 × D. 2 in. (8.9 × 15.2 × 5.1 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

16_comb

Comb. Unrecorded Susquehannock or Seneca Artist. Susquehannock or Seneca, ca. 1680. Moose antler. H. 4 7/8 × W. 2 1/2 × D. 1/4 in. (12.4 × 6.4 × 0.6 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

20_embroidered-manta

Embroidered Manta. Unrecorded Acoma Pueblo Artist. Acoma Pueblo, 1850–60. Wool, dye. H. 48 × W. 58 in. (121.9 × 147.3 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

21_water-jar

Water Jar. Unrecorded Ancestral Pueblo Artist. Ancestral Pueblo, 1050–1100. Clay, slip. H. 15 1/8 × W. 15 7/8 in. (38.4 × 40.3 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

24_basket-bowl

Basket Bowl. Louisa Keyser, Datsolalee. Washoe, 1907. Willow, redbud, bracken fern root. H. 12 1/2 × W. 16 5/8 in. (31.8 × 42.2 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

26_field-day-basket

Field Day Basket. Carrie Bethel. Mono Lake Paiute, 1929. Sedge root, rosebud, bracken fern root, willow. H. 9 1/2 × W. 20 1/2 in. (24.1 × 52.1 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

30_dance-mask

Dance Mask. Unrecorded Yup’ik Artist. Yup’ik, ca. 1916–18. Wood, pigment, vegetal fiber. H. 20 1/2 × W. 14 × D. 8 in. (52.1 × 35.6 × 20.3 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

31_mask

Mask. Unrecorded Chugach Artist. Chugach, 19th century. Wood, pigment, vegetal fiber. H. 17 × W. 8 1/2 × D. 5 in. (43.2 × 21.6 × 12.7 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

37_shamans-amulet

Shaman’s Amulet. Unrecorded Tlingit Artist. Tlingit, ca. 1820–40. Antler, abalone shell. H. 2 × W. 5 1/2 × D. 3/4 in. (5.1 × 14 × 1.9 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

39_mask

Mask. Unrecorded Tlingit Artist. Tlingit, ca. 1850. Wood, pigment. H. 8 13/16 × W. 6 1/8 × D. 2 in. (22.4 × 15.6 × 5.1 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

44_rattle

Rattle. Unrecorded Tsimshian Artist. Tsimshian, ca. 1780. Wood (birch), bone, hair, pigment, metal. H. 14 5/8 × W. 7 7/8 × D. 5 5/8 in. (37.1 × 20 × 14.3 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

48_jar

Jar. Nampeyo. Hopi, late 19th century. Clay, slip. H. 12 × W. 13 1/2 in. (30.5 × 34.3 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

49_qotsa-nataaska-tihu-white-ogre-doll

Qötsa Nata’aska Tihu (White Ogre Doll). Unrecorded Hopi Artist. Hopi, ca. 1910–30. Wood, plant fiber, hide, metal, cotton, pigment. H. 18 1/2 × W. 6 × D. 7 in. (47 × 15.2 × 17.8 cm). Photo: Dirk Bakker. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection is co-organized by Christine Giuntini, Conservator, and James Doyle, Assistant Curator, both in the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at The Met, with consultation from Pollyanna Nordstrand, History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University.