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Plains Indian exhibition opens in Paris, propels Nelson-Atkins into international arena
Shield, Arikara artist, North Dakota, ca. 1850. Buffalo rawhide, native tanned leather, pigment, Diameter: 20 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Purchase: the Donald D. Jones Fund for American Indian Art, 2004.35, Photo: Jamison Miller.
KANSAS CITY, MO.- A groundbreaking exhibition of Plains Indian masterworks, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, opened in Paris at musée du quai Branly on April 7. It was organized by quai Branly in partnership with the Nelson-Atkins, and in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is curated by Gaylord Torrence, one of the nation’s leading scholars of Plains Indian art and the Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art at the Nelson-Atkins.

The Plains Indians will be on view at quai Branly until July 20, 2014, then travel to the Nelson-Atkins from Sept. 19, 2014 to Jan. 11, 2015. The show culminates at the Metropolitan Museum from March 2 to May 10, 2015.

“This exhibition is a defining moment in the understanding of Native American art,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “The works on view convey the continuum of hundreds of years of artistic tradition, and we are very proud of the role the Nelson-Atkins has played in this exhibition.”

To celebrate this milestone exhibit that has brought the Nelson-Atkins to the international stage, Board Chair Shirley Bush Helzberg and Zugazagoitia attended the Paris opening with a group of Kansas City patrons. Festivities surrounding the opening celebrate the Nelson-Atkins stature in the field of Native American Art and Torrence’s scholarship in the area of Plains Indian art, as well as his deep ties of many years to the Native American community.

Stéphane Martin, President of quai Branly, traveled to the United States in 2010 to explore his idea for an exhibition on the art of the Plains Indians. On his tour, he visited the new and highly acclaimed American Indian galleries at the Nelson-Atkins and invited Torrence to curate the Plains show at quai Branly.

“This exhibition captures the beauty and spiritual resonance of Plains Indian art,” said Torrence. “The objects embody both the creative brilliance of their individual makers and the meanings and power of profound cultural traditions.”

More than 130 works of art from 57 European, Canadian, and American institutions and private collections are being displayed in an unprecedented continuum from pre-contact to the present-day. Featured works include numbers of the great early Plains Indian robes, and other masterworks collected in the eighteenth century by European explorers and taken back to the continent never to return to America until now.





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