Bill Holm inside his studio. Photo: Allyce Andrew
It’s been 50 years since art historian and former Burke Museum curator of Northwest Coast Indian art, Bill Holm, published his influential book, Northwest Coast Indian Art: Analysis of Form.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bill Holm’s definitive book on northern Northwest Coast art, the Bill Holm Center and University of Washington Press published an updated color edition of Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form with a new preface by the author and contributions by contemporary Northwest Coast artists. Last year we produced 200 copies of a limited hardcover collector’s edition of the book and fewer than 70 are left! Each numbered book costs $200*, features artwork unique to the collector's edition and has been signed by Bill Holm. Visit burkemuseum.org/holmbook to purchase your limited collector’s edition today before they’re gone! *$150 of your donation is tax deductible.
In the 1950s, Bill Holm, a graduate of Dr. Erna Gunther, former director of the Burke Museum, began a systematic study of northern Northwest Coast art. In 1965, after studying hundreds of bentwood boxes and chests, he published Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, a foundational reference on northern Northwest Coast Native Art.
Through his careful studies, Holm described this visual language using terminology that has become part of the established vocabulary that allows us to talk about works like these and understand changes in style both through time and among individual artists’ styles. Since its publication in 1965, more than 100,000 copies of Northwest Coast Indian Art: Analysis of Form have sold.
“The designs of the naaxiin are bounded by both the pentagonal format and horizontal and vertical warps and wefts used to create a chief’s robe. The unique angled ovoid and U-shaped forms are a dialectal variant of the visual language of the Northwest Coast, which has been studied and defined by Bill Holm in his groundbreaking book Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form. Reading this influential book, I was better able to comprehend the designs that stretched and filled the textile matrix of the naaxiin.”
Evelyn Vanderhoop, Haida weaver