The Monarch in the Matachina

  • Awa Tsireh, The Monarch in the Matachina, ca. 1917-1919, watercolor, ink, and pencil on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Corbin-Henderson Collection, gift of Alice H. Rossin, 1979.144.9

Exhibition Label

The paintings of Awa Tsireh (1898-1955), who was also known by his Spanish name, Alfonso Roybal, represent an encounter between the art traditions of native Pueblo peoples in the southwestern United States and the American modernist art style begun in New York in the early twentieth century. The son of distinguished potters, Awa Tsireh translated geometic pottery designs into stylized watercolors that feature the ceremonial dancers and practices of Pueblo communities. But Awa Tsireh's work is more than an amalgam of traditional and modernist design. At a time when the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs attempted to restrict Pueblo cultural and religious practices, the watercolors of Awa Tsireh and other Pueblo artists helped to affirm the importance of ceremonial dance and tirual to cultural survival.

Awa Tsireh's paintings quickly found an audience among the artists, writers, and archaeologists who descended on Santa Fe in great numbers in the late 1910s and 1920s. Painter John Sloan and poet Alice Corbin Henderson took a particular interest and arranged for his watercolors to be exhibited in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. Henderson shared with the young Pueblo painter books on European and American modernism and Japanese woodblock prints, as well as South Asian miniatures and ancient Egyptian art that provided soure material for his stylized paintings. In this way, he redefined contemporary Pueblo art and created a new, pan-Pueblo style.

The paintings in this exhibition were donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1979 by the Hendersons' daughter, Alice H. Rossin.

Title
The Monarch in the Matachina
Artist
Date
ca. 1917-1919
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
sheet: 14 1/8 x 9 5/8 in. (36.0 x 24.6 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Corbin-Henderson Collection, gift of Alice H. Rossin

Mediums
Mediums Description
watercolor, ink, and pencil on paperboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Object – furniture – chair
  • Performing arts – dance
  • Literature – unknown – The Monarch in the Matachina
  • Dress – ethnic – Indian dress
  • Figure male – full length
  • Ethnic – Indian
Object Number
1979.144.9
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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ca. 1918
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watercolor and ink on paper
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watercolor and pencil on paperboard
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watercolor, ink, and pencil on paperboard
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