In this book one of the pioneering thinkers in the history of Pre-Columbian art considers the varying esthetic responses of Native Americans, Europeans and Americanists to indigenous art of the Americas. George Kubler chronicles the lives and writings of seventy historians, explorers, missionaries, archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians who lived between 1492 and 1984 and who devoted sustained attention to Amerindian art. His “biographical surroundings” focus on how these individuals differed in their ways of evaluating Amerindian art forms and what this reveals both about the art and about the development of esthetic thought.
Drawing on such sources as writings about Renaissance travels and military actions, the records of church missionaries in converting and resettling native peoples, statements by native and European historians in the seventeenth century, debates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries about the worth of America to the world, archaeological and anthropological research since the mid-nineteenth century, and recent esthetic theories about ancient American art, Kubler presents the impressions of individuals form Columbus to Diego de Landa to Charles Darwin to Alfred Kroeber and Alfonso Caso. The book also includes and discusses drawings and photographs by travelers and explorers. Kubler’s historiographic approach allows us to view Amerindian art from a fresh and challenging perspective.
"This book will be of value to scholars of Pre-Columbian art and culture as well as to art historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, and philosophers."—Elizabeth H. Boone, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Dumbarton Oaks
"The book is a contribution to our understanding of the visual art of the Americas."—Norris Brock Johnson, department of anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill