Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 1998, pp. 167.


Copyright 1998 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The Philbrook Museum in Tulsa has long been recognized as one of the major forces in the shaping of twentieth-century Native American painting, as well as one of the major repositories of such paintings, many of them winning entries in the well-known Philbrook Annual juried exhibit, which began in 1946. With the publication of the lavishly illustrated Visions and Voices, reproductions of 484 pieces from the collection, most of them painted by artists of Plains or Southwestern tribes, are now readily available, many in color. In works by such well-known figures as James Auchiah, Tonita Pena, Joe Herrera, and R. C. Gorman, as well as by relative unknowns, one sees almost the entire range of painting styles that developed in the first sixty years of the twentieth century, from the indigenous efforts at San Ildefonso Pueblo at the beginning of the century, to the Studio School in Santa Fe, and among the Kiowa Five and their descendants on the Southern Plains. A few antecedents to the twentieth-century Plains painting tradition are illustrated by several hide and muslin paintings of the late nineteenth century, including a very important muslin by the Lakota artist Standing Bear.

In addition to the encyclopedic survey of traditional Native American paintings from the Plains and Southwest, a few works by artists from other regions-among them Patrick Desjarlait (Ojibwe), Florence Malewotuk (Yupik), George Morrison (Chippewa), and Fritz Scholder (Luiseno}-are also represented. The works illustrated span more than a century (ca. 1870-1984), although the post-1970 period is represented by only a small number.

There are no catalogue entries for individual works, but where possible the artist's own words accompany the illustrations. The editor, along with Marla Redcorn and Andrea Rogers-Henry, conducted hundreds of interviews with artists and their descendants to make this possible. Jeanne Snodgrass King, retired curator at the Philbrook, offers a brief, informative history of the Philbrook Annual in her foreword. Lydia Wyckoffs lead essay provides considerable information on the patronage of Indian painters by the Philbrook, while Ruth Blalock Jones's essay on Bacone College gives an insider's account of the role of one Oklahoma college in the development of several generations of Southern Plains artists.

Visions and Voices is an essential volume for the library of anyone interested in the development of Native American painting in the twentieth century.