The LA Times looks at Oceanic Art and a little bit of Aboriginal Art:
“Just look at the noses,” says Los Angeles collector Valerie Franklin, approaching a display of Melanesian masks at the San Diego Museum of Art. One resembles a sharply pointed beak, another curls into a spiral, yet another sprouts a branch that morphs into a bird-like form. A 19th century mask with a strikingly modern look has a relatively ordinary proboscis, but it anchors a twisted face with a haunting expression.
Noses are not the point of Oceanic Art: A Celebration of Form, an exhibition of about 100 objects from Franklin’s collection and the holdings of Edward and Mina Smith, who live near San Diego. But fascination with details is a pathway to understanding a swath of cultural history that can be baffling for novices.
“The imagination that’s manifest in the art brings the creative impulse to life,” Franklin says. “There is an immediacy about the material that makes it very exciting visually. You could come back to the exhibition 50 times and see something different each time.”
Fifty return trips may be a bit much, but many more people are looking at Oceanic art these days. And not only at ethnographic repositories, as in the past, but in mainstream art museums. What’s more, Pacific Island art is about to get a showcase of its own in Long Beach.
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