American Indian Art Auctions: Beadwork
American Indian art encompasses many types of arts and crafts, from the more traditionally and/or stereotypically Native American art such as beadwork and pottery to modern photography, fine paintings, sculptures, and the like. There are many art auctions, both online and off, that feature this form of American Indian art.
In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most traditional and historically relevant branches of American Indian art: beadwork. Beadwork of the Native American peoples had and has practical as well as decorative, utilitarian as well as rich symbolic meaning.
Beadwork and making of the beads themselves is a very old craft. Stone, bone, and shell beads (such as turquoise and semi-precious stones) are still made the same ancient way. Little affected by modern technology, the making of beads is still carried out in nearly the exact same way as peoples did thousands of years ago.
Sea shell bead pieces are among the most popular and well-known pieces of regional trade importance for thousands of years. Nearly everyone has seen American Indian art pieces, from beaded necklaces to purses, belts, and such.
For the last several decade’s modern beadworks has been replicated in oriental factories and very cheaply imported. This makes it a competing factor against the top quality beadwork done by American Indian craftspeople. The native American crafts people have lost several millions of dollars (just over an eight-year period during the 1980s) to these fake native beads and beadwork pieces.
Historically, beads were carved from turtle shell, animal horn and deer hooves. These were often used for making rattling or tinkling pieces utilized in dance. Hunters often wore necklaces put together with animal portions, such as bear claws or wolf claws. These indicated a hunter’s prowess. Bones and seeds were often steamed to soften them for stringing and /or bending into various shapes.
As an example of beadwork used for a most practical purpose, the Iroqois League (Haudenosee) used white and purple wampum chains made of fresh-water clam shells to record sacred ceremonies, treaties, and songs. This practice was used both before and after the coming of European settlers.
Many types of agreements were recorded with such beadwork chains. They were highly valued and cared for by their owners. European settlers mistook this care and reverence for wampum beads as a sign that the beads held monetary significance. As such, they mistakenly assumed that the word ‘wampum’ referred to money when in actuality, these important beads were much more like very important original documents.
To string beads, Native Americans used animal sinew that is split very fine with which to attach beads to clothing, though infrequently strong plant fibers such as hide thongs or nettle were used for these purposes.
Today, the Navajos, as well as some pueblo people, still make the ancient bead type called the heishii. This is by far the most popular and high quantity type of beadwork that is still made today as it was in ancient times. These necklaces are also referred to as story necklaces as they can be used to tell stories, with each bead representing a character.
Beads and beadwork are a very important part of archaeological explorations of pre-European history. Beads have survived thousands of years and tell many fascinating stories about times we weren’t around to witness. This is particularly true with respect to beadwork mad of seashells. Ancient shell beads have been found thousands of miles from seas, which indicates various trade routes and contacts among different groups of people.
Today American Indian artists even create digital beadwork designs to help them make actual beadwork pieces. In this way, complex designs and pieces can be tested on the screen before the project is begun. This has certainly added to the creative process for many beadwork artists.
Beadworking weaves through native history both in ancient times as well as in today’s modern computer technology. The most important aspect of beadwork, though, is not what can be sold or gained, but personal pieces that are only given among family and friends. The true meanings behind these pieces are personal associations tied to visions, important perspectives, and other things that an individual wish to be reminded of.
Art Auctions: Art Deco
In the field of modern art, art deco plays a large and impressively lavish role. The strong colors and sweeping curves lend art deco the trademark boldness that expressed much of the progress and modern advances of the twentieth century. Art auctions around the world still move many art deco pieces of various kinds. If you’re interested in collecting art deco, there are many art auctions both online and off that deal primarily in art deco.
In the twentieth century, the decorative arts converged in what is known as the art deco movement, which grew to influence architecture, fashion, the visual arts as well as design. The term ‘art deco’ was derived from a World’s Fair held in Paris, France, called the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in the year 1925.
Though the movement and term come from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, the term was not widely used until the late 1960s. Especially pre- World War I Europe influenced the art deco movement, though many cultures influenced and were influenced by this art movement. Much of the world was experiencing similar shifts in modern technological advances.
For the most part, the art deco movement was brought about and inspired by the rapid advances of technological and social facets of the early twentieth century. As culture responded to these increasingly changing times, the art deco movement was an outgrowth of these modern phenomena.
Art deco is considered generally to be an eclectic type of decorative modernism that was influenced by a variety of artists and particular art forms. Art deco includes furniture, metalwork, clocks, glasswork, and screens as well as paintings and other fine art types of pieces.
The art deco style is known for its lavishness, and epicurean flairs that are attributed to the austerity of culture brought about by World War I. Strong patterns and bold colors and shapes were used, as were many particular motifs used universally.
For example, the sunburst motif was used in everything from the Radio City Music Hall auditorium, images of ladies’ shoes, the spire of the Chrysler Building, and several other pieces of art, architecture, and design. Other ubiquitous motifs found in art deco were stepped forms, the zigzag, chevron patterns, and sweeping curves.
In the West, art deco lost its steam around the Second World War but continued to be used all the way into the 1960s in colonial countries such as India, where it served as a gateway to Modernism. Then in the 1980s, art deco made a comeback in graphic design. Art deco’s association with 1930s film noir led to its use in both fashion and jewelry ads.
Today art deco is revered by many and dismissed as old news and overly gaudy by others. Though it undoubtedly played a major role in art history, as with most art, individual taste frames the individual’s interpretation and like or dislike of art deco styles.
Art deco is one of the most well-known art movements. This is mostly due to its wide base of influences and influenced art forms and cultures. Since much of the world was experiencing many of the same advances in technology and mass production, many of the same ideas and symbols were relevant in various parts of the world.