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Detail of mantle with hummingbird design, ca. 100 BCE. Peru, Nasca. Cotton, alpaca wool. Gift of Fred Olsen and the Art Acquisition Fund 1967-29-56
Detail of mantle with hummingbird design, ca. 100 BCE. Peru, Nasca. Cotton, alpaca wool. Gift of Fred Olsen and the Art Acquisition Fund 1967-29-56
Peru, Nasca
ca. 100 BCE

73 1/4 x 56 3/4 inches

The Nasca people, heirs to the South Coast Peruvian textile tradition, continued the well-established practice of wrapping and burying their dead in multiple large woven mantles. Mantles such as this, which is believed to date from early in the Nasca period (ca. 400 BCE–ca. 800 CE), demonstrate a high degree of technical skill and investment of labor.

One can infer a strong connection between the number and quality of a deceased individual's burial shrouds and the status or social role that person had in life. Although little is known of the exact origin of this particular textile, its former owner was most likely a fairly high-ranking member of Nasca society.

The arid climate of the region accounts for the preservation of the textile's vivid color scheme. Embellished with a wool border of intricately detailed and alternately colored hummingbirds, the main body of the piece is composed of a single expanse of dark blue plain-weave cotton cloth. The hummingbirds were fashioned in a difficult embroidery technique sometimes referred to as needle-knitting or cross-knit looping. The cross-knit looping technique is indicative of the early Nasca stylistic phase.

The hummingbird design may have symbolic meaning. In nature, the birds are fast, agile, and very territorial; they will not hesitate to attack much larger birds that stray into their territory. Several ancient Peruvian artistic traditions draw an analogy between warriors and hummingbirds, and it may be that this mantle shrouded an important member of the warrior class.

Text by Margaret A. Jackson, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

 

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Ilya Iosifovich Kobakov. Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project, 1998. Etching. Sheldon Good Family Charitable Foundation 2000-9-1
Ilya Iosifovich Kobakov. Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project, 1998. Etching. Sheldon Good Family Charitable Foundation 2000-9-1
Ilya Iosifovich Kabakov
1998

24 x 18 inches

The child of Ukrainian Jews, Ilya Kabakov fled the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine in 1941 and began a life of displacement, exclusion, and exile. In the 1950s he studied graphic art and worked as a book illustrator under official Soviet patronage. During the 1960s and '70s he became a leader of a group of censored underground artists in Moscow that included Vitali Komar and Alexander Melamid, who also achieved recognition in the West. Kabakov moved to Paris in the late 1980s and to New York several years later, where he became known as the "father of Russian conceptualism."

Kabakov's works reflect his experience in the former Soviet Union, a modern superpower founded on the utopian ideals of Marxism, which eventually disintegrated. Absurdity and disjunction characterize his paintings and installations. He explores the distance between public and private life under Soviet rule; the disparity between Marxist ideals and the drab reality of daily life; the unique space in which "underground" artists existed, simultaneously cut off from official Soviet socialist realism and emerging postmodernism in the West; and the gap between the imagined Western audience and the disappointing first encounters with it.

Drawing on his own earlier graphic work as well as reflecting the ironic contradictions of Dada artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, Kabakov in Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project proposed a waterless fountain in the shape of a woman for a future public sculpture.

Text by Brenda Mitchell, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008