Objects of Desire: Surrealist Collecting and the Art of the Pacific Northwest Coast

  • Author / Creator
    Davis, Karl J
  • This thesis is an examination of four figures connected to the surrealist movement: André Breton, Kurt Seligmann, Wolfgang Paalen, and the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and their interest in art and objects from the First Nations peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. It includes case-studies of four specific objects that each of them collected: a Kwakwaka'wakw Yaxwiwe' headdress, a Wet'suwet'en Keïgiet totem pole, a Tlingit Chief Shakes Bear Screen, and a Tsimshian Shaman Figure, respectively. While recent scholarship fixes their interest in these objects to their backgrounds in anthropology, philosophy and theory, I will argue that the basis for their collecting was driven by 'surrealist desire' and that other considerations were secondary to this desire. I examine the history of surrealist collecting, the intersection of anthropology and surrealism, and the role of the 'primitive' object in surrealism.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Art and Design
  • Specialization
    • History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Harris, Steven (Art and Design)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Lowrey, Kathleen (Anthropology)
    • Greer, Joan (Art and Design)