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Cover of The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision Bulletin (Summer 2014)

"The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas"

LaGamma, Alisa, Joanne Pillsbury, Eric Kjellgren, and Yaëlle Biro
48 pages
59 illustrations
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This Bulletin and the exhibition it accompanies, "The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas," reflect on an extraordinary act of philanthropy that was also a catalyst for momentous change in the art world. In establishing the Museum of Primitive Art (MPA) in 1956—the precursor to what is today the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas (AAOA) at the Metropolitan Museum—Nelson Rockefeller was a true pioneer, assembling what remains the greatest collection of fine art from these disparate fields. Perhaps even more important than this singular achievement, however, was Rockefeller's long campaign to place his collection at the Metropolitan Museum as a gift to the city and to the world, which he finally achieved in 1969 after nearly forty years of effort.

Rockefeller's gift carried the unequivocal message that artists from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas are equal in every respect to those of their peers across the globe and throughout history. Yet until that time there was, famously, skepticism in the Western art world on this point as well as resistance from earlier generations of Metropolitan directors in viewing non-Western art as part of the institution's mission. Relying on his formidable powers of persuasion, Rockefeller eventually brokered an agreement to transfer the collections, staff, and library of the of the MPA to the Metropolitan, an astounding triumph that fundamentally changed the character of the museum, making the collections truly encyclopedic.

Met Art in Publication

Zemí Cohoba Stand, Wood (Guaiacum sp.), shell, Taíno
974–1020 CE
Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba, Edo artist, Ivory, iron, copper (?), Edo
16th century
Sculptural Bust from a Reliquary Ensemble (The Great Bieri), Fang-Betsi artist, Wood, metal, palm oil, Fang-Betsi
19th century
Couple, Wood, pigment, Sakalava peoples
Sakalava peoples
17th–late 18th century
Ceremonial Skirt (Ntchak), Raffia palm fiber, natural dyes, Kuba peoples, Bushoong group
Kuba peoples, Bushoong group
late 19th century
Ceremonial Banner (Palepai Maju), Fiber, ceramic and glass beads, cloth, nassa shells, Lampung
probably 18th century
Male Poro Figure (Pombia), Wood, Senufo peoples, Tyebara group
Senufo peoples, Tyebara group
19th–mid-20th century
Bowl, Ceramic, Nasca
1st century BCE–4th century CE
Female Figure, Ceramic, pigment, Chupicuaro
3rd century BCE–4th century CE
Feathered Tabard, Cotton, feathers, Inca
13th–14th century
Mirror-Bearer, Wood, red hematite, Maya
6th century
Relief with Enthroned Ruler, Chakalte'  Guatemalan or Mexican, Limestone, paint, Maya
early 770s
Seated Figure, Ceramic, cinnabar, red ochre, Olmec
12th–9th century BCE
Earflare with Condor, Silver, gold, gilded copper, shell, Moche
6th–7th century
Earflare with condor, Silver, gold, gilded copper, shell, Moche
6th–7th century
Figure (Yipwon), Wood, paint, Alamblak or Yimam people
Alamblak or Yimam people
19th century
Bowl, Ndanim, Wood, paint, Asmat people
mid-20th century
Shield (Grere'o), Fiber, parinarium-nut paste, chambered-nautilus shell, pigment, Solomon Islands people
Solomon Islands people
Early to mid-19th century
Skull Hook (Agiba), Wood, paint, plant fiber, Kerewa people
Kerewa people
19th–early 20th century
Male Figure, Wood, Inyai-Ewa people
Inyai-Ewa people
16th–19th century
Showing 20 of 29

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