convergences Screen 24 | Styles and Approaches

John Webber: Nootka Man

John Webber: Man of Nootka.

Webber's illustrations are almost photographic. His task was to give accurate visual representation to everything the expedition encountered, and he succeeded. His sketches, paintings and engravings, even after they have been blurred and distorted by the process of reproduction, give us a sense of the visual experience of the men on those ships. Webber's art was documentary. It focused on the surface of the world he witnessed. Its perfection predicted the invention of the camera. The Mooachaht's art, in contrast, presented the forms beneath the surface. It was more sophisticated in approach, more serious in intent, though the Europeans, their appreciation numbed by their judgment, found it primitive, barbarous, and crude.

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