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Art of the Archaic Indonesians

DATES November 07, 1981 through January 31, 1982
  • November 7, 1981 The first major museum exhibition in the United States devoted entirely to the sculpture of the Archaic Indonesians will open at The Brooklyn Museum on November 7 and run through January 31, 1982. This exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Mobil Oil Corporation, who will also sponsor the exhibition when it travels to The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in the Spring of 1982.

    Approximately 100 traditional works of art were selected from groups who were not deeply influenced by the Hindu, Buddhistic and Moslem religions. Their culture took shape during the last millennium B.C. However, until very recent times they continued to preserve their original religious beliefs and social structures and to create works of art of exceptional aesthetic quality that were an inseparable part of life as a whole.

    This exhibition reveals the variety of sculptural traditions that flourished on the islands of Enggano and Nias, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, the Lesser Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. Included are stone carvings that are monumental in character: unusual wooden masks, figures, staffs, and architectural elements, as well as delicately crafted metal objects. The persistence of prehistoric themes and motifs, as well as cultural patterns, are revealed by the works themselves and through contextual photographs.

    One of the most unusual objects is a mid-nineteenth century Sumatran magic book. The beautifully illustrated text, written on accordion folded bark leaves, is placed between skillfully carved wooden covers. It contains the formulas for aggressive magic, divination, and astrological computations.

    A fully illustrated 149-page catalogue ($19.00) with color and black and white illustrations will accompany the exhibition. Postcards and posters will also be available at the Museum. This exhibition was organized by the museums of Geneva: Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Musée d’Ethnographie, Musée Barbier-Müller.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1981, 019-20.
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