From: The Huntington Limited Edition: 25 Exhibition: Legacy and Legend: Images of Indians from Four Centuries Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl Dimensions: 35" x 96" (88.9cm x 243.84cm)
Hanging Hardware Included
When Hollywood filmmakers dreamed up the Western, they studied the art of centuries past in order to depict Native Americans. These images created by Europeans artists with little first-hand knowledge of these cultures, have certainly influenced, and skewed, our understanding of these cultures today. Karl Moon's intense and provocative photograph Wolf, Ma-Itso (1907) fills the front of the banner promoting Legends and Legacy at the Huntington. Moon developed an interest in Native Americans as a boy growing up in Ohio, striving to capture them in their natural state.
This exhibition put a magnifying glass on how Native Americans have been depicted in art over the course of four centuries. These somewhat distorted representations of a dramatic and romanticized life have become the basis for our understanding of Native American culture today.
The exhibition featured 220 rare prints, posters, photographs and books of Native Americans from 1590 to 1907 drawn almost entirely from the Huntington’s collection. Images depicting Native Americans were primarily painted by European-trained artists and created for audiences who knew even less about how real Native Americans lived than the artists did. Because Native American ways were so different from those known by European artists, and therefore unknown and intimidating, their images were often imagined and exaggerated. Men were often dressed in exotic garb and engaged in dangerous activities like buffalo hunting rather than as the farmers and family men they likely were. Women were seldom depicted despite the fact that many tribes were matrilineal and women played important roles in government.
Images from the 16th and 17th centuries were copper plate engravings and limited-edition books. Most of the exhibit consists of materials from the 19th century when, because of the burgeoning of lithography, it was possible to produce images for wide distribution. Henry Huntington, whose collection is the basis of the museum and library, collected three of the four major Native American portrait portfolios from the early 1800s. The fourth portfolio by painter George Catlin was acquired by the museum in the 1950s. The exhibit’s 20th century images were photographs, including a large selection by Karl Moon and Edward Curtis.
Karl Moon’s silver gelatin print called the Wolf, Má-Itso (1907), fills the front of the banner with “Legacy and Legend” in large yellow letters along the bottom. Má-Itso was a Navajo Indian. This intense and mysterious photo was taken near the Grand Canyon. The backside is brownish-black with "The Huntington" running from top to bottom (sideways) with an irregular, rust-colored left border.
These banners were displayed around San Marino and the Los Angeles area from June 9 to September 2, 2007 to promote the exhibition.