The freedom of expression in this Inuit mask is just so gob smacking for me and is the inspiration for my piece Dystopia. Once part of Andre Breton’s collection which sadly was not saved for the nation the mask is now in a private collection. Wonderful works of art such as this should be available for all of us to see.
Posted on June 15th, 2016 by JaneFairhurst
Kuskokwin is the region where this mask was created. The Kuskokwim river is in South West Alaska and is the ninth largest river in the USA. The mask was made towards the end of the 19th century. I found this image in a book I bought in a charity shop it is titled American Primitive with an excellent forward by Jean Clarence Lambert the French poet, essayist and art critic. Here are the first and last paragraphs of his introduction:
“This book is concerned with Indian America, the America that was nearly ruined forever by Columbus and his successors, the America that has been concealed rather than revealed by the West, the land of maize-growers, of people the colour of maize. From the North to the South, this country, whose natural inclinations are the extreme and the excessive, offered the immigrants who came over from Asia via the Bering Strait some of the most astonishing background scenery in the world. And to cover every part of it took thousands of years; thousands of years and an unimaginable series of genetic mutations. Otherwise, how can one consider at the same time the astronomers of Chichen Itza and the gloomy tribes roaming the heavy humid forests of Brazil, the goldsmiths of the Mixtecs and the salmon-fishers of the Canadian fjords.”
“Our only solution would seem to be to try to recapture that dream state which, deep inside each of us, harbours primitive human, discovered by the archaeologists of the unconscious who have revealed to us the long-lost, forgotten civilisations of the mind.”
Inuit mask,painted wood and feathers, height 28 ins, former Andre Breton Collection, Paris
Two more examples of Inuit masks