The American Indian parfleche : a tradition of abstract painting

by Gaylord Torrence

Paperback, 1994




Seattle : University of Washington Press in association with the Des Moines Art Center, c1994.


"The parfleche - a container of folded or sewn rawhide elaborated with painted designs on the exposed surfacesconstitutes one of the great traditions of abstract imagery created by American Indian artists. In The American Indian Parfleche, Gaylord Torrence reveals the quality and great diversity of this art form which was widespread in the western half of North America during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. He explains the origin and chronology of parfleches, and examines their aesthetic and utilitarian function." "These beautiful containers are most closely associated an probably originated with the peoples of the Great Plains, where they were integral to the nomadic way of life, providing a means to store and transport a family's food and possessions. They were made by women from more than forty tribes, and their richly associative and symbolic painted images gave visual expression to the artists' personal and cultural lives. The author writes: "These paintings were inseparable from the world view of their makers, formed from their collective experience and cultural role as women; from the details of their daily lives and the richness and love of family life and tribal associations; from the invisible spirit forces that filled their world and the profound religious traditions that sustained their inner lives; and from their intimate relationship with nature and the sweeping monumental landscapes and incomparable light of the American West which was their home. All of this was given tangible form in these paintings, through an expressive power transcending time and cultural boundaries."" "A major contribution of The American indian Parfleche is the identification of characteristics that define regional and tribal styles. The author has studied more than 1,500 parfleches in nearly one hundred public and private collections in the united States, Canada, and Europe, allowing him to conceptualize a unique analysis and interpretation of the art form. One hundred twenty-seven of the finest examples of parfleches are reproduced here. Most of the pieces are previously unpublished and virtually unknown. The book fills a gap in our knowledge of American Indian culture and history, and will be valuable to scholars in the field of American Indian studies and to those interested int he history of modern abstract art."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)



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