artincontext Main Index   |   Welcome   |   Register   |   Edit

Native American Influences on 1930s & 1940s Modernists > Additional Information

David Findlay Jr. Fine Art

Native American Influences on 1930s & 1940s Modernists
- Additional Information -

David Findlay Jr Fine Art is pleased to announce its forthcoming exhibition of works from the 1930s and 1940s influenced by Native American art and culture.  These influences were the inspiration for ground-breaking thought and theory on abstraction that led to Abstract Expressionism.  The gallery will be exhibiting about 35 oils, watercolors, and mixed media works.

There were three major forces that pushed abstractionists working in the 30s and 40s to embrace Native American art and culture. The artists were feeling within themselves and in society a debilitating spiritual and emotional crisis during the Great Depression.  Arshile Gorky described the thirties as the bleakest, most spirit-crushing period of his life. This was one factor that drove the artists to learn about Native American cultures.  In the vitality and spirituality of Indian life and art, the artists discovered the universal themes and values that they believed would help society and themselves find a new path to spiritual fulfillment.

Another force was the new interest of scholars in Native American culture that came with the isolationist mood of the United States and a renewed interest in its heritage.  Between 1931 and 1941 there were two major New York museum exhibitions featuring art, artifacts, and ethnographic objects from various Native American tribes as well as numerous books and articles published on this subject. These collections of objects, ideas, and facts made the Native American art readily available to the artists.

The third force was the artist, collector, and scholar, John Graham who made accessible his vast understanding of primitive and native American art, and Jungian theories of the collective unconscious to a large group of abstractionists.  Through his discussion groups and essays many artists saw the potential for a new expression of abstraction in the Native American imagery and culture.

Some of the artists to be included in this exhibition are Will Barnett, Gertrude Barrer, Robert Barrell, Emil Bisttram, Peter Busa, Dorothy Dehner, Helen DeMott, Adolph Gottlieb,  John Graham, Raymond Jonson, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, David Smith and Steve Wheeler.

For more information, a checklist, and/or images please call Lee Findlay at 212-486-7660.

© 1995-2019 Art in Context Center for Communications. All rights reserved.