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Cover for Ancestors of the Lake

Ancestors of the Lake

Art of Lake Sentani and Humboldt Bay, New Guinea

Virginia-Lee Webb (Editor), Anna-Karina Hermkens (Contributions by), Philippe Peltier (Contributions by), Dirk Smidt (Contributions by), Muridan Widjojo (Contributions by), Andrea Schmidt, David van Duuren


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After Dutch expeditions reached New Guinea's Lake Sentani island and Humboldt Bay in the mid-1800s, Western visitors began collecting works by local artists. Ancestors of the Lake is a stunning look at the region's distinctive art, such as its highly stylized wooden sculptures and decoratively and abstractly designed barkcloths. This beautifully illustrated volume brings together many of these important historic pieces for the first time, including the landmark collection of French writer and art dealer Jacques Viot, along with photographs by Paul Wirz. The book also explores how European Surrealist artists found inspiration in the art of New Guinea, highlighted by rarely seen photographs by Man Ray of Sentani sculpture.

Praise For Ancestors of the Lake: Art of Lake Sentani and Humboldt Bay, New Guinea

“A gorgeous, must-have book.” —The New York Times
— The New York Times

Selected as the winner of this year's Prix International du Livre d'Art Tribal, International Tribal Book Prize (UK Award)
— Prix International du Livre d’Art Tribal

"[A] highly informative catalogue."—A.J. Stone, Choice
— A.J. Stone

The Menil Collection, 9780300166101, 136pp.

Publication Date: July 6, 2011

About the Author

Virginia-Lee Webb is an art historian and retired Research Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.