Looking at Indian art of the Northwest Coast

by Hilary Stewart

Paperback, 1979




Seattle : University of Washington Press, c1979.


Bold, inventive and highly graphic, the indigenous art of the Northwest Coast is distinguished by its sophistication and complexity. It is also composed of basically simple elements, which, guided by a rich mythology, create images of striking power. This beautifully illustrated book is the first to introduce everyone, from the casual observer to the serious collector of Northwest Coast prints, to the forms, cultural background and structures of this highly imaginative art. The elements of style are introduced; the myths and legends which shape the motifs are interpreted; the stylistic differences between the major cultural groupings are defined and illustrated. Raven, Thunderbird, Killer Whale, Bear: all the traditional forms are here, deftly analyzed by a professional writer and artist who has a deep understanding of this powerful culture.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member joumanamedlej
It is very rare to find a book that deconstructs an artistic tradition to the level achieved by HIlary Stewart. If I could find one like this for every culture, I'd buy them all no questions asked. Beginning with the basic shapes used in the art of the Northwest Coast Indians (ovoid, U form, S form...) she then methodically moves on to anatomical features (eyes, tongue, claws...) and how they are used, then to structural variations. There follows a long chapter to identify design motifs (i.e. the animals, mythical creatures and people used in representations), and then a discussion of cultural variations between the various tribes. Many pictures illustrate the text, showing traditional as well as modern work. Quite a few stories are recounted where appropriate, giving more insights into the cultural context.
The book provides the tools to decipher and therefore fully appreciate NWC art, but by extension, it also provides artists with the tools to try their hand at it with awareness of the correct design elements and of their meaning. A gem of a resource for students and admirers of traditional arts.
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LibraryThing member maggie1944
I found this book to be very helpful in looking at the art of the pacific northwest coast native populations. I appreciated the deconstruction which helped me identify various animals found in some of the more abstract pieces. I recommend this book highly.




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