The Art of the South Sea Islands, Including Australia and New Zealand

Item BBR83        

This Item was Sold on 2 June 2012 for $13

Similar artifacts for sale are often found on the Anthropology Books web pages. 

Historical Pricing information for this item and similar artifacts can be found at: Historical Artifact Prices.

The Art of the South Sea Islands, Including Australia and New Zealand

Publisher: Crown Publishers., New York (1962) ; Author(s): Alfred Buehler ; Terry Barrow ; Charles P. Mountford ; Hard Cover with DJ : 62 full color and 100+ B&W illustrations ; 250 pages ; English

This wonderful book is one of several volumes in the " Art of the World " series, published in 1962. Really great information about art from cultures in the South Seas, including Australia and New Zealand. The full color illustrations are photographic plates that are pasted onto the pages. One of the better books available on this website. The book is in very good condition. The DJ has some tears and shelf wear, but it is intact.

The art of the South Seas has acquired a great vogue during the past few years. The first to experience its fascination were painters and sculptors. some of whom came to admire it with an enthusiasm that found reflection in their works. Subsequently its appeal spread ever wider among the general public.

Today carvings and paintings from Oceania are no longer merely curiosities displayed in museums of ethnology, but important documents that help us to understand and appreciate the art of mankind as a whole. The effort to comprehend and interpret the art of exotic peoples is characteristic of our own age, when new conceptions of art have obtained an established foothold alongside the old humanistic ideals, strong though the latter still may be.

INTRODUCTION (from the book)

At the same time, however, it must be borne in mind that we cannot understand exotic art completely unless we are familiar with its postulates and fundamental principles, which are not to be found -- or at least not exclusively -- in the urge to artistic creation itself. Art is a human activity, and as such is closely connected with the culture that gives rise to it. This applies with particular force to primitive peoples. For this reason, when studying the arts of Oceania, we must proceed from the people themselves and the character and history of their civilization if we are to understand their art in its essentials, and not simply take a superficial emotional view of it. This is why in this volume a good deal of space has been given to the study of environmental factors and the general principles involved. It seems to me that these are more important than detailed descriptions, which can after all never be absolutely comprehensive.

Even when one has become reasonably familiar with the general principles underlying Oceanic art, it is still quite a difficult matter to interpret such works of art correctly, and there are still many questions on which it is impossible for us to come to definite conclusions. Generally speaking, we have to rely upon collections in museums. But these are necessarily somewhat 'lifeless', or at least seem to give the works of art they contain an entirely alien character. Far removed from their natural location, and divorced from their original context, they stand there in total isolation, without any relationship to the community from which they sprang. Often their original significance is hardly known, or can only with difficulty be made apparent to the viewer. Moreover, in many instances their outward appearance has also changed considerably: thus it is not uncommon to find that the painted decoration characteristic of many works from the South Seas has disappeared, or has been preserved only in part. The objects we see in collections and museums. thus have only a remote connection with real life. The disadvantages of housing art collections in museums are particularly apparent in this field.

With few exceptions it is unfortunately no longer possible to study the arts of the South Seasin situ. This is not so with regard to certain parts of Australia, New Guinea, and some small areas in Melanesia, but elsewhere this art disappeared or degenerated long ago. Oceania came within the orbit of our own civilization at a relatively late date, but the shock that resulted from this contact had particularly disastrous effects in this area. Although the remarks made in the following pages are usually phrased in the present tense, in almost every instance they refer to things as they were before the arrival of the white man, or at least before the encroachment of European civilization took place on a large scale.

Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Oceania are here treated separately by different authors. This is entirely justified so far as Australia is concerned, since the cultures and art of this continent were isolated from other parts of the world, and the connections that existed with Oceania were insignificant. New Zealand, however, was linked much more closely to the other islands and ought really to be treated as one of the regions of Polynesia both from the cultural and artistic point of view. But at the same time it is one of the largest and most important regions, with a style of its own, and this makes it legitimate to consider it separately.

The scope of this book is limited in the main to phenomena that can be regarded as belonging to art in the narrow sense of the term, although from time to time mention is made of implements, weapons and other objects of everyday use. In such cases we are usually referring to the decoration on such objects rather than to the objects themselves. Little attention has been paid to clothing and ornaments.

Of the three main regions into which Oceania is divided, we have concentrated primarily on Melanesia, so that Polynesia and Micronesia have received less detailed treatment. This is not accidental. Polynesia and Micronesia are far from possessing such an abundance of artistic treasures as Melanesia can boast of, and furthermore the latter region contains some areas, such as New Guinea in particular, about which little has so far been written in studies of Oceanic art.

No mention has been made of the rock paintings of Oceania, some of which are truly magnificent works of art. Little is known about their origin, and lack of space makes it impossible to discuss them here.

How to Order | Back to: Flight Toys Bookstore | Anthropology Books | contact: Ted Bailey