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Addition of "Photographic Collage" by World-Renowned Thorney Lieberman to the Collection of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art


The Rockwell Museum of Western Art announced in October, 2005 a new addition to it's Native American permanent collections gallery -- a young man of Kiowa Comanche descent now stands among paintings by such greats as Charles Russell, Frederic Remington, Henry Farney and others. On loan from the artist's personal collection, Joaquin Gallegos, or "Keno" as he is called, is a life size photographic collage by world-renowned photographer and artist, Nathaniel "Thorney" Lieberman. Surrounded by romantic portrayals of Native Americans and dressed in full indigenous regalia, Keno now stands with grandeur in the Native American gallery for visitors to view. (right: Nathaniel "Thorney" Lieberman, Joaquin "Keno" Gallegos, December 1998, photographic collage, 30 x 86 inches. Collection of the artist)

Including this piece as a temporary addition to the Visions of the West gallery, Kristin A. Swain, Executive Director of the Rockwell Museum, commented: "The juxtaposition of the Lieberman photograph between paintings by Joseph Henry Sharp and John Hauser is an interesting way to compare and contrast works of art by traditional painters with the technology used by a contemporary artist. We encourage our visitors to discuss what they see in the galleries and to learn about the artists, their techniques, as well as to understand how they interpret the people, places and ideas of the American west. All of this is part of the Museum's mission to be an interesting place for our visitors to learn about Western American and Native American art and culture."

The portrait of Keno is part of a larger project intended as a unique photographic survey of Native Americans at the turn of the millennium. For each individual, Lieberman makes as many as 40 contact prints of 8 x 10 inch film. The image on each piece of film is shot life-size. These contact prints are then assembled to produce a full-size portrait. "Artistically, I hope to surpass the depth of intimacy and detail available in extant photographic portraiture. Socially and culturally, I hope to provide a vast documentation of the diversity, the dignity and sheer beauty of contemporary Native Americans and their historically referential aesthetics," offers Lieberman.

Lieberman is also quick to point out that Native American people guide his project, work on it, direct their own appearances within it, and share in any practical benefits from the project. For this reason, Lieberman references the model's name for each work, both out of respect and as an attempt to promote future practices.

Sheila K. Hoffman, Curator of Collections at the Rockwell Museum said, "Lieberman completed an exhibition here shortly after I arrived. I was taken with the magnificent color in his works as well as the stunning blend of modern medium and traditional images. It is a rare combination and I felt it had a place in the interpretation of the Native American within the context of this Museum. The piece is now housed in a gallery dedicated to portraying Native Americans from a variety of perspectives. Lieberman's piece adds a crescendo of color and accurate portrayal in a gallery otherwise consumed by 19th and early 20th century portrayals of the "Noble Savage" as well contemporary art by Native Americans."

Lieberman's work has been shown several times at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, The Brooklyn Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, as well as the Bibilothèque Nationale in Paris. During the 1970s and 80s, Lieberman photographed architecture professionally, working for many notable firms including I.M. Pei and Partners. His work is held in collections internationally.


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