Art of the American West
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after Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809–1893),
Mehkskeme-Sukahs, Blackfoot-chief, Tatsicki-Stomick, Piekann chief (Tableau 45) , 1839–43
Jean-Alexandre Allais, engraver (French, 1792–1850), hand-colored aquatint, 18 1/8 x 24 11/16 in.
Gift of the Enron Art Foundation, 1986.49.517.45
Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer, is the first Museum project to focus on Bodmer’s watercolor portraits of Indigenous people painted in 1833–34. Numerous Indigenous artists, scholars, and elders from communities that Karl Bodmer and Prince Maximilian visited contributed texts to the exhibition that examine the ongoing challenges and significances of these images of cultural encounter. The exhibition was organized by the Margre H. Durham Center for Western Studies, Joslyn Art Museum, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

@FBHYDE • Apr 5
The first paintings were a means to share information. They were used to commemorate historical events and news, and show where to find resources. To me, Bodmer’s portraits of Indigenous people and lifeways made in 1833–34 seem very clinical, posed in romanticized renderings reminiscent of botanical watercolors. Watercolor on paper was the ideal medium to document on the move: fast-drying, lightweight, portable, and archival. The portrait paintings and drawings would lay the groundwork for the most accurate aquatint prints made of Native people before the smallpox epidemic. One image could be reproduced multiple times to reach a wide audience. Prints were a relatively inexpensive way for the rest of the world to glimpse the strange and wondrous “New” world. In my mind, in a very real way, they are precursors to social media.
#frankbuffalohyde #aquatint #artinnativeamerica

Frank Buffalo Hyde
Onondaga Nation, Beaver Clan

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